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LONGWIRE ANTENNAS


The easiest to put up and simplest to build antenna is the longwire. This is a length of wire that is run from your receiver to a point as far from the radio as possible. The antenna wire can be of any type that you can easily buy. The gauge of wire is not important and any gauge from 14 to as thin as 24 can be used. The wire can be coated (insulated) or bare. Remember however if you use bare (uninsulated) wire insure that at no time does the wire come into contact with any material that is made of metal or other conductive material. Coated or insulated wire is easier to work with and is preferred by many DX'ers.

INDOOR WIRES

If you are restricted to the indoors run the wire around the room at ceiling level. You can even make two or three turns around the room you are in. If you use bare wire you must make sure the turns do not touch each other anyplace on their run. Do not worry about keeping the wire straight across the room. Going around is fine and will not harm reception.

TEMPORARY OUTDOOR WIRES

If you live in an apartment or town house you can hang a wire from your balcony and just let it drop as far as is safe. Make sure you keep the end at least 10 feet above ground so nobody gets tangled up in it. A fishing weight tied to the end will keep it from coiling up, and light wire 18-24 gauge is best for this type of antenna that you can reel in when you are finished listening. You can even use a Slinky Toy as an antenna. Make sure it is metal version of this popular toy. Hang it out the window with a feed line attached to your radio and one end of the Slinky. Once again a weight at the end can help stretch out your "antenna".

PERMANENT OUTDOOR WIRES

If you are putting a longwire outside on a permanent basis try to keep it as high as possible, and clear of any obstructions. ALWAYS STAY AWAY FROM OVERHEAD WIRES!! These can be the end of your receiver and you if they come into contact with your antenna. You can run the wire from the house to a garage or tree at the far end of the yard. You can attach a small mast to the fence to raise your antenna, but if you do not have this option, running a wire along the top of a fence to keep it out of sight will do fine. Once again straight is not a must and if you have trees in two or three corners use them to make a L or U shape. Outdoor wire should be of a heavier gauge 14 to 20 gauge and once again coated wire is easier to work with. A caution about using trees. If you do use a tree make sure you leave enough slack on the wire so when the tree moves you wire does not snap. One way it help with this problem is to use a spring so that the spring will stretch as the tree bends. The spring is fitted securely to the tree and the antenna is secured to the other end of the spring.

FEEDING YOUR LONGWIRE

You can attach the longwire directly to your receiver but it is best to use a coax feed where possible. Even an indoor wire can be fed with a coaxial cable to help cut down on man made interference that your longwire will pick up. For an outdoor antenna running a coaxial feed from the outside is best but 10 feet or more in the house is still a big help. If you have a receiver that has a simple audio type plug you can attach the coax to it and then plug in the antenna. If there is a proper coax plug on the receiver use this with coax. For the most part receivers prefer coax that is 50 to 75 ohms. The coax you buy will be so marked or ask the sales person for this type of coax. On a longwire you need only use the centre conductor and ignore the shielded material. Attach the wire from your antenna to the center wire of the coax lead in only. You can peel the braid back and and tape it up so it does not touch the antenna wire. You can attach the shield and center wire to the jack/plug you use at the radio for best effect. If you are using a small mini jack it is OK to just use the center feed from the coax and ignore the braid by taping it back out of the way. Insure however the shielding and the centre conductor of the coax do not touch or short out. This is not so much dangerous as it does cut back on signal strength.

SAFETY

As mentioned never let your antenna touch any conductive material, and keep away from power lines inside and outside. If you are using a longwire antenna there is one other risk to be aware of, static. Static can build up on an antenna at any time and anyplace. Insure once you are finished listening that you unplug the antenna. Before using the antenna it never hurt to tap the connector or end of the wire that you are going to attach to the receiver with a screwdriver or other metal object to bleed off static. Also to be safe never use a longwire that is outside in a thunderstorm or snow storm. Both types of storms will generate a lot of static and a lightening strike in your area even if not close by can throw up enough static to cause serious damage to a receiver. Snow will also build up static as it blows across your antenna. See the article about grounding your antenna to insure a safe installation.

HEIGHT

The height should be as high as possible and still let you put it up safely. There is no right or wrong height for a long wire. Mine is attached to the peak of my roof about 20 feet and the other end to a mast 17 feet up. If you can go higher then that is OK if not that is good too. Some people put them up higher because they can do it with what they have available to them...a tree... a taller house etc The best rule to follow is to be a couple of feet above whatever is underneath..like my roof. Try to keep the wire in free air space not too close to anything especially metal.


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