Considering a vertical? Among all the dipoles, beams and other types of antennas, the lowly vertical has regained some popularity thanks, in part, to the BigIR SteppIR and, more recently, the 43 foot vertical offered by DX Engineering and Zero Five antennas.

Vertical antennas may have lower angle radiation than dipoles unless the dipoles are very high above the ground. However, vertical antennas rely immensely on ground conductivity well away from the antenna to realize this possible benefit; Go to for the reasons why.

Trap verticals have been around for decades and many use them with success. However, two new designs have achieved some notice and are attempting to eat into the trap vertical market: The 43 Foot Tuner Required Fixed Length antenna and the Variable Length SteppIR BigIR antenna.

During this shootout we will compare a 43 foot antenna with the BigIR one band at a time. The base model for this analysis will use a ground vertical model from Larry Cebik’s NEC model collection which simulates the benefit of a good radial system. The radial lengths will be adjusted for each band and will be identical for both the 43 foot and the BigIR. The 43 foot vertical will, of course, never change height. The BigIR will be “adjusted” in height for minimum SWR at the test frequency. Where the BigIR can be 3/4 wavelengths height that will be calculated too.

HF Band Analysis:

Band Antennas Notes
43 Foot BigIR
160 m 1/12 wave n/a The Top Band is great, but both antennas are woefully short
80 m 1/6 wave 1/8 wave Having an 80 meter vertical is worth while
60 m 1/4 wave 1/6 wave Its nice to have a way to use this new band
40 m 1/3 wave 1/4 wave
30 m 4/9 wave 1/4 wave WARC bands are often the forgotten bands
20 m 5/8 wave 1/4 wave This is an important DX band
17 m 4/5 wave 1/4 wave Another good WARC band
15 m 7/8 wave 1/4 and 3/4 wave We will compare three antennas since the BigIR can tune 15 m two ways
12 m 17/16 wave 1/4 and 3/4 wave Ready for sun spots
10 m 5/4 wave 1/4 and 3/4 wave Ready for sun spots
6 m 9/4 1/4 and 3/4 wave Just for fun 😉

Note, all the above comparisons have the antennas ground mounted, not elevated.

The big 43 foot next to the BigIR set to 10 meters 1/4 wave

The big 43 foot next to the BigIR set to 10 meters 1/4 wave

We will analyze each band in turn in upcoming posts and link to them from here so bookmark this page now and stay tuned…

About John Huggins

John is an electrical engineer working in astronomy and aerospace including 33 years in antenna/RF design with experience modeling, manufacturing and measuring past, present and new antenna concepts.

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