urbanst.jpg (28619 bytes)Igor Grigorov's Urban Antennas, Volume 1: A Review
L. B. Cebik, W4RNL

Igor Grigorov, RK3ZK, has written a very timely book on Urban Antennas. In the US, amateur radio operators are gradually discovering that little urban or suburban area exists in which there are no antenna restrictions. Even the 60' yard-edge poles with a doublet between them have become mere photos in old antenna books in many parts of the country.

The time has come for many hams to change their thinking. Instead of going for the simplest antenna, the trick is now to find--for each unique situation--the most effective antenna that will be invisible, nearly invisible, or disguised. And here is where Igor's extensive experience comes in handy.

Not only does Igor have the right experience, he also brings something special to his book--a distinctly Russian outlook on antennas. That outlook is not identical to the US outlook—or even the western European outlook. (US antenna enthusiasts do not in fact have the same outlook as Western Europeans. For example, on the continent, the HB9CV phased horizontal array enjoys high favor over the ZL Special version of the same antenna type, but the latter is generally favored by English-speaking hams.) In Urban Antennas, then, there are many antenna techniques, designs, and even whole types of antennas that US hams have not yet explored.

Igor has divided his book into 3 main parts. The first deals with invisible and substitute antennas for the ham or other radio enthusiast who must hide his antenna or find a way of shrinking the affair to the smallest practical size that still operates. Part 2 is devoted to antennas for two special frequency regions. One is the low frequency range centered on 136 MHz in Russia. "Lowfer" work at under 1 watt has gone on as a very special enterprise for a number of experimenters in the US, but new antenna ideas are always welcome.

Here's a listing of the contents of the 220-page book containing over 240 diagrams and tables:

Chapter

Title

PART 1 Invisible and Substitute Antennas 12
1 Invisible Antennas 15
2 High-Altitude Invisible Antennas 57
3 Substitute Antennas 64
PART 2 Antennas for Special Bands of Frequencies 108
4 Antennas for 136 kHz 110
5 Urban CB Antennas 129
PART 3 Special Antennas 151
6 Underground & Spreading Antennas 153
7 Making Antennas with Coax 177
8 Making TV Antennas work for Amateur Radio 189
9 Multi-Purpose Antennas 199
     

ONE OF MY FAVORITES
The final part of the book is my personal favorite, since it is devoted to "special" antennas. In Chapter 8, Igor reminds us of how to make TV antennas work on the amateur bands, something that many US hams have forgotten with the emergence of the age of cable television. Not forgetting the main theme of the book, Igor show some techniques for combining amateur and TV antennas, a method of disguising the extra activity going on from prying eyes of neighbors.

igor-intro.jpg (15161 bytes)Another useful chapter is #7, making antennas with coax. Although we do not have the luxury of obtaining military surplus coaxial cable at bargain basement prices in the US, many of us have aging lengths of coax that we suspect have relatively high losses due to long years in the weather. However, if we construct an antenna with coaxial cable, connecting the inner conductor and braid together at both the center and outer ends, we can make verticals, doublets, and other antennas with no particular concern about the losses the cable might have in transmission line use. As well, we can use short sections of the cable as transmission line phasing sections once more without undue concern for losses, since the sections are so short. RG-8, RG-213, and similar cables make excellent fat-wire antennas--about 0.4" in diameter. Even RG-8X, RG-58, and RG-59 have good antenna applications with an effective diameter of nearly a quarter inch. Since we are recycling otherwise questionable cable, an experiment gone bad simply ends the life of an already scrap piece of cable.

However, many unsuccessful antennas for one frequency range can be come successful antenna materials for the next higher band. This principle applies to almost any antenna material, from wire to cable to aluminum tubing. I have some 2-meter antennas whose materials began life as HF elements, only to shrink to 6 meters, with a final step to the 144-MHz region. Some of my "scrap may find use on 220 or 432 MHz before very long. Therefore, if you have aluminum tubing, even salvaged from a broken TV antenna, do not discard it. It is raw material for VHF and UHF use--or may find new life as a beta-match hairpin or a set of connector strips.

UNDERGROUND AND SPREADING ANTENNA TECHNOLOGY
Perhaps the most challenging chapter for US hams deals with underground and spreading antennas. Spreading antennas include the Beverage, as a point of familiarity, but also much more. Low wires close to the ground in various configurations may come in terminated or unterminated form. When terminated with a non-inductive resistor, we sometimes call such arrays traveling wave antennas, and even the military still uses long terminated wire antennas for reliable communications with specific target regions. Igor tends to call these antennas progressive-wave antennas (PWAs).

ua-uga.jpg (26140 bytes)

Underground antennas, long familiar to those people who had to operate clandestine radios within occupied regions during World War II, are attracting professional investigation in the US these days. Whether in a near-surface location or erected deep within a cave, underground antennas do work for both short and long distance communications. No, they will not compete with the long Yagis on towers reaching the 200' level during a CQ or ARRL DX contest, but that is not their purpose. They can permit communication of essential information over various types of propagation paths. Interestingly, it is difficult to get a bearing on these antennas from any significant distance, thus adding to their security.

igorant.jpg (10232 bytes)PRACTICAL INFORMATION
Igor's book is more than a survey of antenna types. It contains very practical information on how to build the antennas that he samples. Building advice includes the components necessary to complete the antenna. For example, he shows how to construct terminating resistors for long-wire terminated antennas such as might be run between two buildings. Also included are instructions for constructing a home-brew magnetic mount. Indeed, for the apartment dweller, there are complete instructions for creating antenna element tape from aluminum foil and two-sided tape for installation on windows and other non-conducting surfaces. These are but a few of the many practical elements of antenna construction that RK3ZK offers in Urban Antennas.

However, it would be wrong for the average antenna experimenter to simply follow Igor's words as if they were a set of Heathkit assembly instructions. Rather, the best use of the book is as a trigger for inspiration. The perspective and situation within which Igor developed the antenna ideas should open us up to the use of new techniques and materials that we can find in our own environment. In short, the book should enlarge our idea of what makes a working antenna and what makes a usable antenna material.

In the US, we have a particular advantage called the home improvement center—places like Lowes and Home Depot, among others. We can drop into these warehouses of diverse materials just to explore the aisles, all the time thinking antennas. As we stroll through the plumbing, painting, lumber, electrical, and other departments, we can look at everything available as a potential antenna component. Although almost every US ham knows about paint roller extension rods as potential antenna support elements, I found a good source of fiberglass tubing in a strange place--among the handles for chimney cleaning brushes. My power lawn mower gave me the idea for connecting sections of a portable field day antenna for 20 meters using hitch-pin clips, speeding both assembly and disassembly into the pile of tubing for transport. (By all means, use more secure methods of ensuring good metal-to-metal contact for permanent antennas.)

MATERIAL & SPACIAL INSPIRATIONS
Not only should Igor's book inspire us to see more materials as antenna-relevant, it should also help us see our yards--both large and small--from new angles. The idea is to use the available space more efficiently. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that we both had proposed, where space dictated, arranging doublets in a Z or zig-zag formation. Using everything available in the most efficient manner—without incurring high costs—is the key message behind Urban Antennas, and Igor makes the case well with dozens upon dozens examples of great ingenuity.

GLOBAL TEAMWORK
The availability of Urban Antennas owes much to many people, with Igor, of course, as the source. However, for Igor, English is a second language, and as he notes, Russian English is not quite the same as American English. However, publisher, Jack Stone gathered together a cadre of text editors who helped to transform Igor's manuscript into highly readable pages for the US audience. Among the text editors are Gary Nixon, WA6HZT, Jay Lemmons, N6YIP, Harold Allen, W4MMC, and Tom Cox, KA5NEE. Richard Morrow, K5CNF, long a contributor to antenneX, deserves credit for many of the outstanding graphics in the book. Because such people exist, we can look forward to future works by Igor in a format of maximum benefit to US and other English-speaking amateurs.

I have reviewed the volume from the perspective from which it should be read--as an inspiration to experimenters as well as a gold mine of practical antenna ideas for the space-challenged modern amateur radio operator. Hence, it would be superfluous to do a critical analysis of each individual antenna idea in the book. The key is always to be looking for and developing the next and hopefully better antenna that fits within one's space restrictions.

jorecat.jpg (12797 bytes)FELINE SUPERVISION
If I must find a weakness in the book, it is in the role Igor has let Jore play in its development. It would appear that Jore can interfere with antenna research and writing to the degree that he wishes. I have a comparable companion—named Leo—who demands attention from me and who owns most of my premises. However, by long and patient--and humane--training, Leo has learned not to disturb me at my computer or in my small shop. Yes, to a limited but useful extent, even cats can be trained to be respectful of antenna work.

By all means, obtain a copy of Urban Antennas. It will be both an informative and inspirational adventure into antennas. Someday, with increased exchanges of information and perspectives, it is possible that we shall all share a common view of antenna work. Actually, I hope this never happens. Looking at the world of antennas through someone else's eyes both keeps my own ideas honest and increases the stock of ideas at my disposal. In the diversity of perspective lies both progress and the pleasure of sharing.

Urban Antennas is published by antenneX and the book is available in the popular PDF format for immediate download or CD-ROM from the Shopping Shack and specifically found at this URL: http://www.antennex.com/Sshack/urban/urban.htm As another interesting note, listen to Igor's own personal "Hello" from Belgorod, Russia in streaming audio from a link found on this same page. It's well worth the time! -30-

~ antenneX ~ November 2001 Online Issue #55 ~

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This document last modified 03/19/17