What is a Ham Radio?
Before we discuss Ham Radio Antenna types, it is important to know a little about the Ham Radio. The Ham Radio was invented in the 1890's, as radio waves had been proven to exist in the later 1880's, it was also referred to as the "amateur radio". To begin with, this radio was used by many hobbyists. It was also used for rudimentary radio shows before it became commercialized. Even though it might seem that this radio was made for those who wanted something to do, it does not take away from the actual use and credibility this type of radio has.
Many emergency responders use ham radios when large emergencies hit the world, due to the ham radio broadcasting range, it is very useful for long distance communication. Ham radios also have the ability to reach through multiple channels. It has also gone on record as being one of the foremost useful communication devices in emergency situations, from 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina.
A ham radio is very uniquely made, it is capable of transmitting on all types of frequencies, not just receive them. The circuitry is also open to customization, in which nearly everything can be upgraded and interchanged. However, due to this type of item's capabilities, there is a legal side that might need to be taken into account.
All ham radio users are required to receive certification and a license proving that they know and can correctly operate a ham radio. This was implemented when ham radios began to interfere with the commercialized use of radio waves. Citing that due to the great lengths ham radios can transmit to and from one country to another, it could lead to international problems in the case of an emergency or regular day to day radio transmissions.
What is the Antenna used for?
The antenna is a core part of any radio, allowing for receiving of radio waves. The antenna allows for information to be transferred from different frequencies such as AM, FM and many different wavelengths among the radio frequency. Which is why it is so useful in emergency situations since antennas allow for the transfer of information between long distances.
You may be surprised to hear, from many hobbyists to emergency personnel, that you can never have too many antennas. As the more antennas you have means the more you can reach higher bands of AM and FM radio waves and longer distances. Prior technical knowledge may come in handy when set up and connecting your ham radio to receive or transmit.
Antennas are rather complicated as well, as you have to take into consideration the level of efficiency, heat, bandwidth, RF energy, and antenna length. These respective points are paramount to pay attention to and keep track of.
Ham Radio Antenna Types
The most common antennas are ham radio wire antennas. While there are a multitude of different antennas, the main types can be categorized into the 5 main different configurations and types in which the information is carried and transmitted.
- Log Periodic Antennas- These antennas are most commonly used in high power shortwave transmissions and are able to transmit on a good portion of frequencies and bands. Has a grill-like design, used to better convey and receive transmissions.
- Wire Antennas- The traditional antenna that is very cheap and easy to set up, used by most beginners and pros due to reliability. Has a electrical wire like design, perfect for transferring information short distances or long depending on its power output.
- Traveling Wave Antennas- This antenna is unique in its design, making it only able to transmit in one direction, by guiding it with a protrusion from its satellite dish face. Often used by those in need of a wider bandwidth.
- Microwave Antennas- This was used to transmit broadcasting to television in the past, as it was very useful and efficient in both broadcasting and transmitting radio waves. This design is shaped as the traditional satellite dish.
- Reflector Antennas- This is the most recognizable antenna, it is used to reflect all manner of radio waves. Very efficient and is used in radar systems or integrated into different systems.
What is the Best Antenna?
Antennas are the core of any ham radio worth its salt. It can range in size and capabilities, from as small as 6" to as large as a room. Due to this, generally, there is a method to the madness, as most antennas are categorized by their abilities. Such as long range, high efficiency, most channels broadcasted and the ability to transfer information.
Many hobbyists and emergency personnel use Diamond X50A, due to the dual band VHF/UHF which is vertically polarized. This item may not be completely perfect for every ham radio but it is effective as a starting point and has accesses to many ham radio channels. With its fairly simple look and easy to set up design, it has the potential to upgrade with other higher tier items with little issues it is truly one of the best antennas you can find.
Of course, it is much more complicated than just this, and there are much more varieties that all depend on what you are looking for and what you can pay for. There is not one best ham radio antenna. But as with anything, having the most efficient and practical item usually pays off in the long run. Also, keep in mind it might be prudent to look into configurations for how to set up and place your antennas effectively and for the most amount of range and efficiency.
How is a Ham Radio Useful in an Emergency Situation?
An emergency situation comes in varying degrees and issues, from a natural disaster or a man-made apocalypse. Anyone who has the ability to communicate will have the leg up on knowing what the status is of the rest of the people around the world. This is why there it is such a popular item with preppers, as this allows for the best communication possible with the least amount of dependence. With enough know-how, it is wholly possible to communicate with people across the globe in minutes.
Many people have preowned ham radios as a way to ensure communication is not lost during emergency situations, many states, countries, and governments have access to emergency ham radios and similar devices. Another reason why having a ham radio is so imperative, is because news alerts, updates, and other important information are set to play at all times. News can mean life or death, whether staying in your home will be the best idea, or trying to find better shelter.
While there are many ways to communicate with the outside world in modern day civilization, it is very easy for all of that to disappear. Due to this, it is always useful to have a contingency in order to ensure that even if things go south, you still have a fighting chance due to your own preparedness.