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HELIX ANTENNAS

REAL WORLD COMPARISON
MEASUREMENTS
Clare - VE3NPC
QCWA Dinner Nov. 21, 2006

Early Helix – 2 x 10 Turns

1989

2 x 15 Turn 70 cm Helix

1991 ?

AO-13 Antennas

About 1994

AO-40 Antennas 2001 .

13 and 23 cm Helix Arrays 2003 .

So How Did We Do? Only worked AO-40 in mode L/S  6 other low orbiters were used by others  Used Yaesu FT-736R with 10 watts on L  There were 30 submissions  We made 102 QSO’s.  . nearly all on SSB  Placed 7th.

VE3NPC L/S QSO’s AO-40 AO-40 on mode L/S from 16 Sept 01 to 28 Jan 04  10 watts output into 4 x 27 T helix array on the L uplink  Works out to about 1500 watts ERP  In that time I logged 832 QSO’s in mode L/S  .

More Helix Antenna Operation First satellite QSO in 1988  Now 18 years later have over 11 K Satellite QSO’s in log  With exception of mode A and K used in early RS satellites all were made using home brew helix ants for 70cm up and down links and 23 cm uplinks  .

loop yagis and dishes that most satellite operators were and are using. . They have worked very well on the air in competition with commercial crossed yagis. What my paper is about is that according to some published antenna modeling theory they should not have worked as well as the have.So What !    I have learned a lot about building and operating helix antennas.

THE HELIX ANTENNA  Invented by Dr. John D Kraus in 1947  He constructed large arrays of helix antennas for radio astronomy .

      “the dimensions of the helix are so noncritical that the helical beam antenna is one of the simplest types of antenna it is possible to make” circumference turn spacing (phase angle) reflector size conductor diameter helix support (boom) .

Kraus Gain (db)=10log3.double gain – 3 db  Four times n – four times gain – 6 db  .325n  Linear function  Double n (turns) .

2 C = circumference in wavelengths 12 < a > 14 a = pitch angle in degrees But used C = 1 wavelength and a =12.Kraus  Satellite Experimenters Handbook 0.8 > C > 1.5 degrees .

V E3NPC  C = 1 wavelength  pa = 12.5 degrees .

Helix Antenna Computer Modeling (NEC) 1990 ARRL UHF/Microwave Experiments Manual – Bob Atkins KA1GT  1995 ARRL Antenna Compendium Emerson  2005 Proceedings of the Southeastern VHF Society – Cebik W4RNL  .

for a given number of turns there was a particular value of circumference and pitch angle that would provide peak gain. .NEC Design Theory The NEC designs concluded that : . .as the number of turns was increased the increase in gain soon leveled off.

Bob Atkins .

Emerson .

Cebik .

Cebik .

Length .Emerson .

Consequences NEC modeling peak gain designs used in ARRL publications  Web page helix antenna calculators use NEC peak gain design formula  AMSAT “experts” come up with peak gain formula dimensions  .

VE3NPC 1990 or so Constructed several 70cm helix antennas following Bob Atkins design in the ARRL UHF/Microwave Experimenters Manual  They did not give any better performance.  Narrower band width and harder to get good feed match  .

4 GHz helix antennas and arrays for AO-13 mode S  All were over 30 turns and most used Bob Atkins peak gain design  Didn’t work – never even heard beacon  Made 4 ft dish – worked like a charm  .VE3NPC – 1992/93 Constructed several different 2.

Well that started the ball rolling Maybe I was wrong but I didn’t think so Simple matter to compare his with mine What appeared to be simple turned into a major project Constructed and compared 10 different helix antenna .Summer 2005         Dave VE3KL proposed constructing a 70cm helix antenna using the Emerson design From my previous experience I questioned his choice Dave was skeptical.

.  3 To test the effects of different boom materials.Objectives  1 To compare the peak gain design verses the simple Kraus design.  2 To test the validity of the difference in gain relative to the number of turns (length in wavelengths).

Test Equipment Set Up .

Antenna Test Range .

5 deg.= 12.5 15.3 46 13 2.53 22. Measured B/W deg.44 13.Comparison Results Between Four Kraus Design Helix Antennas of Increasing length.7 20 52 11. B/W deg. Incremental Theor.3 12 .0 + 6.4 + 9.A.76 19. Gain Gain db db Incremental Measured Gain db Theor.4 + 3. C = 1 w/l P.9 30.0 + 7.6 32 26 5.0 + 2.4 0 0 43.88 16.4 + 6. 6 1/2 1.2 21. Number of Turns Length in Wavelengths Theor.

provide higher or lower forward gain .e. exhibit a narrow forward beam width but due to the configuration of the side lobes and/or degree of losses.Gain & Directivity  An antenna may be very directive i.

5 cm-Increased Turns 6.5 turns 26 turns 12 turns 52 turns .Kraus 12.

Increasing Turns/Gain Differences .

5cm 24 5.5cm 26 5.8 +1 29 36 K 12. Gain db Measured Relative Gain db Theor.5cm 12 2.9 -6.6 32 E 12.88 16.4 0 30.2 +0.88 13.5cm 13 2. Beam Width deg Measured Beam Width deg K 70cm 10 2.1 20 44 .4 0 21.40 12.76 14.7 40 E 70cm 10 2.4 27 25 K 12.2 0 34.22 15.Comparison Results Between Kraus Design and Emerson Design Type No of Turns Length in Wavelengths Theor.7 20 E 12.76 19.

70 cm 10 Turn Kraus/Emerson Kraus 10 turns Emerson 10 turns .

88 w/l Kraus/Emerson Kraus 13 turns Emerson 12 turns .5 cm 2.12.

5 cm 5.75 w/l Kraus/Emerson Kraus 26 turns Emerson 24 turns .12.

88 18. WaveGain lengths db Relative Theor.8 32 PVC Pipe 13 2.1 +0.88 18. Measured Beam Gain db Width deg Measured Beam Width deg Fiberglass 13 2.Kraus Design – Different Boom Materials Boom Material No of Turns Length in Theor.8 32 .1 0 30.88 18.3 30.8 30 Aluminum 13 2.1 0 30.

Conclusions  Casts serious doubt on NEC computer modeling of helix antennas  Ant based on modeling doesn’t give predicted peak gain  30 Turn helix ants can be made that will give real gain.  Aluminum or PVC OK for boom . Useful gain with 52 turns.

Other Verification  Can find no other information on direct experimental evidence to verify the computer modeling results of helical antennas ! .

Questions ? ? ? .

VE3NPC 23cm Array Constructed by KB9UPS KB9UPS VE3NPC .

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WHO CARES !!        Checked my satellite QSL cards 40 % did not list type of ant Of the 1267 cards listing type of antenna only 37 used a helix (3%) Only 3 were in the US One VK.FY and FP The rest European (G3RUH pattern?) 22 countries .

3 mm copper wire conductor Boom 1 x 1 inch aluminum Measured gain (sun noise) = 15.A.5 degrees 3.G3RUH – James Miller        1993 published design for 16 turn 2401 MHz helix C = 1.2 dbic Kraus gain = 17. 12.3 dbic .06 wavelengths P.

23cm and 13cm measured  2 met the theoretical (VE3KSK) – G3RUH design 5 within 1 – 3 db 8 within 4 – 11 db Where theoretical = Kraus gain minus 3 db    . 33cm.Central States VHF Society Antenna Range Tests 1995-2006  15 helix antennas for 70cm.

 Both about 1 db less than Kraus gain minus 3 db  .Southeastern VHF Society Antenna Range Tests 2006 2 helix antennas tested at 2304 MHz  One 27 turn and one 16 turn.

AO-40 Orbit 60 k kilometers .