OK lots of great comments! Let me address a few of them and then tell you what I will be looking for at the hamfest this weekend.
@ Byron: At first glance the PAR EndFedz end-fed wire looks interesting, but they are mono-band. And, outside of maybe more flexibility in how they are erected, they seem to be about the same as a dipole. I need to research these more.
@ Elizabeth: Yes I see the Versa-Tenna is similar to the PAR EndFedz that Byron uses. The hamstick is interesting but again monoband. I expect to be on 20 meters most often, but I would prefer the option of trying out a few other bands without having to buy more and re-configuring. I am considering a monoband wire antenna and it could be hard to find places to anchor the ends and the hamstick would solve that problem. It would also be out of reach to other campers and therefore safer. If horizontal and on the hitch receiver mounted mast, it could also be rotated to take advantage of the directional characteristics of a dipole. Did you run it vertical or horizontal? PS for Elizabeth, I’m still 23 days from getting my camper myself, and might not get the radio running in it for some months, but remind me and I will be sure and let you know what I do and how it works for me.
@ jaevans: I do like the idea of your inverted V with ladder line although I think for convenience I would cut it for 20 meters (and give up using 40, at least for now). I believe what you are talking about is what ARRL describes it as a “center-fed Zepp,” “tuned doublet” and “dipole with tuned feeders” in this article
. From what I read about this type of antenna, the impedance varies depending on how it is installed, and distance from ground, so a 4:1 balun usually works but if the impendence is off too much then a different ratio balun should be used. Since the campsites would vary, the effectiveness of the antenna and a 4:1 balun might also. This sounds like a good idea for future experimentation from the trailer. It is similar to my G5RV that I just put up at home. It was meant to be temporary but its working very well (13 countries in a week without really trying). Not as well as the tri-band beam at 50 feet I used to have at the same QTH, but still quite well.
@Greg: Spoke to your RF Engineer guy this morning, thanks for the reference. His advice was pretty consistent with everything here except he was not a fan of the end-fed antennas, or running a dipole in vertical config. He also seemed to think that coax was better than ladder line for portable, temporary setups.
@Frank Fox: I had not thought of using the belly band for a mount. How does that work for you? What is the effect of having the antenna there? A photo would be nice too.
@ Mike, K5NAN: Ahhh JT9
! This is something that intrigues me. Years ago, I ran packet on 2M and also a little RTTY on HF, both with one of the early TNCs. JT9 was not around then. The digital modes have always interested me but they are so limited, at least when compared to the vast amount of data on the internet. Nevertheless, this is where Amateur radio has the potential to shine. The original mandate for Amateur radio to provide a pool of trained communications specialist for emergencies seems to be lost in this age of the Internet and 4g, but perhaps digital modes used by hams can provide some redundancy for the Internet, when the inevitable worldwide disruptions occur. The idea of effective digital communication over hundreds or thousands of miles with only five watts or so is amazing and I will be interested to see if it goes beyond the basic information exchange to the passing of potentially important and more lengthy messages.
@John, WD5IKX: On your QRZ page I see your bugcatcher and vertical with 8 radials but not sure I see what you described. In any case, lots of wires and antenna on the ground, or even just a 50 ft counterpoise, might not work at most campsites. If you have the area to set it all up, those are impressive antenna and results.
@redbarron55: Well you beat me to the punch. I was going to ask if anyone had laid claim to the name for their trailer of “The Hammin Egg.” I don’t want to steal the name and I have seen similar references, so if that’s the name of your camper, speak now
So where am I with this now?
Right now, I am leaning toward a monoband hamstick style dipole on a mast to start with. Depending on how that works, and my desire to use other bands if they are active, I can then get additional elements or I can try one of the other antennas such as the end fed, and inverted V dipole or maybe the zepp style multiband.
One of the most important deciding factors for me will involve the mast because I very much want to avoid using guys. Since I am have not done this before, I have to ask is it practical to mount a hamstick or buddiepole dipole on a hitch receiver mounted mast at least 12-15 feet high, without guying and with only a supporting bracket to the spare tire? Also would a mast bracket on the spare tire carrier require reinforcement? BTW, I would only use it with calm weather. If guys are going to be needed anyway, I might as well just use an inverted-V and save some money. Perhaps this one from MFJ
would be good for a 20M antenna.
I see some people use hitch receiver flag mast mounts but I wonder if the tiltnraise
mast mount is worth the extra money. I see you can also spend even more than that if you want.
BTW, I stumbled across this article
that seems to echo some of the suggestions in this thread. I like it because its an easy read.
I’m going to stay away from the battery
discussion for now.. when chasing DX its 99.9% listening. Even at 100 watts, just saying “59 North Carolina” won’t use much battery
juice. Besides I expect to be on shore power more often than not, at least for a while.