No, not drinks, but beverage antennas, the ultimate DX'pedition or large area antenna. A beverage antenna is a long wire, a very looooonnng longwire. Once you take the longwire we are familiar with, and run it out 500 feet or more, you get a wire antenna that is directional in the direction it is pointed as well as the opposite direct to a lesser extent. Many beverages are 1000, 2000 or more feet in length, but a mini beverage can be 500 feet if space is limited. One thing you may have read about beverages, is that if they are to work well, they must be about 6 feet up in the air and be terminated with resistors and ground rods. This may be so in all the antenna theory books, but experience has proven this not necessarily to be the way they work. Over the years I have been using beverages that are up in the air or on the ground, terminated or unterminated, and it is my opinion that they all work, and work well. I am not claiming to be a technical expert in the antenna field, but on an open field, it is my experience that a beverage antenna laying on the ground or, for that matter, under the snow, can be a great antenna that will bring in a lot of new DX.These are BOG's or Beverages On the Ground. If you are out for an overnight DX'pedition and do not wish to spend hours putting in stakes and supports, just take your wire and walk out in the direction you have chosen and enjoy the DX as it rolls in. If you have sufficient wire and space, put out 2,3, or 4 beverages in different directions. You will be surprised by the diversity of signals each beverage antenna can hear on a frequency (due to their directional abilities). One important thing to remember is that a beverage which is not terminated will be able to hear signals from the west, if the beverage is run in a western direction, but will also pick up stations from the back of the beverage, the east. This bidirectional ability of an unterminated beverage can be taken advantage of if space or wire is limited at your site. If space and wire are a consideration, you might want to try some mini beverages around 500 feet. Four 500 footers can be more fun than one, 2,000-footer. Putting Out a Beverage Antenna The first step is to decide which direction you want to go with your antenna. Look at a great circle map centered on your location to get the correct directions for the part of the world you are targeting. Once you have chosen a direction, look at the objects in that direction and pick one as a reference point. This will help you keep a straight line when you are walking out an antenna. If you are going through some trees or a bushed-in area, be careful to try and stay on course. This is not easy as you have no reference point to use. If your wire is on a spool, all you have to do is put a stick or large screw driver through the holes to allow the spool to rotate freely as you walk out. Before you start, make sure that you secure the end of the wire to a solid object near your receiver. Ensure you have left enough wire to reach the receiver or your antenna switch if you are using one. When you get to the point where you run out of wire or go as far as you wish, you must secure this loose end. This does not have to be a solid tied off end, unless you are terminating the beverage to a ground stake. Put a rock on top of, or loosely wind, the end on a branch or other object. If you do this very loosely, you will not have to walk out to untie the antenna. A solid tug on the antenna while rewinding will loosen it and you can rewind from the DX site. If you have several beverages out, this can save a lot of walking around. One other tip: take out wire for two antennas at a time if possible. That way, you can put out a second antenna on the way back in and save some time and energy. You are here to DX, not work yourself ragged and sleep through the good openings. Winding Up a Beverage Antenna As you have seen, putting out an antenna is easy. All you do is walk out the wire. Now, how do you get it back onto the spool? There are several options: a) First you can hand rewind the wire onto the spool. This can take a very long time and will result in sore arms. I have used this method and it is not my favourite, especially when it is below zero outside. b) The second option is to fit your spool to an electric motor and rewind the antenna by allowing the motor to do the work. This will work well on spools that have about 1000 to 2000 feet of small gauge wire (20 gauge or so). You should ensure you have a power source to run the motor, whether it be 110 or 12 volts, depending on your location. An adaptor from the motor's shaft to your spool will have to be made, and all the spools must fit the adaptor. c) The third method is the one I have used the most. It is fast, inexpensive, and efficient with all types of wire. My beverage wires are wound onto a spool stand assembly, sold at hardware stores, which winds up outdoor extension cords. They are intended to hold a 100-foot extension cord, but will hold 2000 to 3000 feet of beverage wire (if it around 20 gauge). To put your wire onto the spool stand assembly, all you do is secure it to the drum of the spool and turn the hand crank on the side. This will pull in your wire and, by moving your other hand back and forth across the front of the unit, it will give you a good rewind as the wire goes across your hand. Wear a glove on this hand to avoid burns or cuts. I can rewind a 1000 foot beverage in about 10 minutes this way. The wire, once on the spool, can be easily unwound by attaching an end to a solid object. Just walk out while holding onto the handle that is on top of the unit. This simple unit allows you to unwind, rewind, and store your wire all in one easy mechanism. I have been asked if in an urban or semi-urban setting is it OK to bend the antenna to fit a piece of property. I would say yes even if it changes some of the properties of the antenna the more wire the better at lower frequencies. All I can say is try it and see what happens. You can also mark off the wire on these spools in 500 foot lengths so you can put out the amount you want each time. If you are buying coated wire, you can buy 500-foot spools in different colours so you know where your 500-foot marks are more readily. Personally, I have never really measured out my beverages. I have just run them out as far as possible and listened to what they bring in. This is supposed to be fun, remember.
Remember On A Clear Day You Can Hear Forever