LNR End-Fed Trail Friendly Antenna

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Compact, light, robust and stealthy- a good combination for HF in the field.
The antenna I used with the Youkits TJ2B review is a relatively well known and very well made antenna from a company that caters to QRP and SOTA operators- LNR Precision, made right here in NC. I purchased up one of their antennas a short time ago on a recommendation from a buddy who’s big into NPOTA and has had hands-on input with LNR’s product development.

Wanting something ultra compact for trail use, I’ve normally always built my own antennas out of whatever I can source at Lowes, Harbor Freight, Sears, and Hamfests. I like building antennas, as long-time readers know, but my aforementioned friend talked me into trying one of LNR’s designs and promising he’d buy it if I gave it a thumbs down. Thinking it’s simply an end fed with a small matchbox, why bother buying? Well, after a few runs with it, I’ve taken some notes.

Built with very good components, the antenna is worth the money, and is on par with the issued HF long wire antennas I used in the Army, but much, much lighter. The total package weighs in at just a few ounces, and can fit in a pocket without you knowing it’s there. The matchbox is super compact, and features a BNC connector, which not only makes a more compact coax interface, but is easier to attach or take down in a hurry. On the matchbox is two tie down points for hoisting lines. Tarred bankline works well and is cheaper than 550 cord for stringing it up in a tree. The wire is very compact polystealth, and is extremely flexible, making it quite durable. This is an asset. The end of the primary section houses a plastic spool with another short run of wire and terminated with a small insulator. Again, bank line works very well to hoist the antenna end.

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The tiny matchbox mates well to RG-8X fitted with BNC connectors. I use RG-8X because it’s the best medium between weight and durability and has very little loss on HF. Many SOTA and ultralight operators like RG-174, which is a super-compact and lightweight coax. I don’t run it because with the advantages of lighter weight comes a tradeoff with durability- the connectors vastly outsize the diameter of the wire and looks like it could break if moved the wrong way. RG-8X, while heavier, is more durable with its attachment to either BNC or UHF connectors, so I’d rather trade a bit of weight for hardiness on the safe side. A 25ft run of RG-8X is nothing to complain about weight-wise anyway, so it’s no big deal.

The antenna configuration was one that should be familiar to any HF-capable RTO- a simple horizontal longwire-2longwire with a counterpoise strung relatively low, in order to allow for strong NVIS propagation characteristics. The counterpoise is simply a 40ft run of 14AWG THNN, available anywhere and cheap, strung out on the ground to give the hot wire (radiating element) something to push off of- a reflector.

An end-fed antenna is essentially a dipole with one end chopped off, so the use of a counterpoise makes for an even stronger radiation pattern, roughly broadside to the antenna wire. In plain terms, this means your pattern will move at 90 and 270 degrees to the antenna direction. Raised to just above head level, the antenna will have a very tight radiating pattern which is exactly what we’re looking for when we need NVIS propagation on 40M.

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See the antenna? Yeah, it’s kinda tough, and I’m standing next to it. It’s running to the cedar tree just in the distance- and the counterpoise is laying on the ground. Very, very stealthy.

Performance

The LNR raises fast- I had it up and running in under 5 minutes, and I was taking my sweet time and enjoying a fine pilsner while doing it. In a hurry, I could have it up much faster. Running the antenna roughly N-S, East and West stations were coming in strong in both directions, especially from the West. Using the LDG QRP tuner, the antenna tuned very fast for both the 817 and the TJ2B, presenting a low SWR to protect the radio.

The antenna presents very low noise, which is surprising considering it’s compact form factor. Shortwave stations were very loud and clear, which was also surprising considering the noisy atmospheric conditions present. I had no problems making 5w SSB contacts into TN, which is a testament to both the radios I was using and the antenna itself. As a complete system, it works, and works well. One station in TN was surprised I was only running 5w, and even more surprised I was on a field-expedient setup. With both radios I had no issue making solid contacts, even in the deplorable band conditions present on 40m.

Concluding Thoughts

Why pay for something I could make? Because it works. And works well. At $75, it’s worth the money especially for the beginner who’s new to making antenna, and likely would spend twice that on trial and error. While I strongly advocate building your own antennae to learn the underlying theories, engender a sense of accomplishment, and most importantly, gain the know-how that can never be taken away, this antenna is a great example of something done right, built by my neighbors just a few counties over.

For a compact, stealthy antenna system, the LNR is a good choice and a solid performer. For 20w and  under, this is a definite performer and one you should be eyeing for a simple, rapidly deployable antenna in the field. Pick one up- you won’t regret it.

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21 thoughts on “LNR End-Fed Trail Friendly Antenna

  1. Just a thought on using paracord,tarred bank line etc.
    Don’t know if you’ve ever considered this option for inexpensive strong line-string line,sometimes called mason’s line that is used for setting up concrete forms,keeping courses of block/brick straight etc. is both inexpensive and strong.
    There’s also a wide selection of colors available.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve used it- we call it plumb line, but it’s the same stuff. I used it for putting up straight fencing as well as laying block.

      I’ve got a crap-ton of bankline laying around, so I use it pretty frequently, but anything works. So many people get all wrapped up around 550- I mean it’s neat and was great in the Army (because it was free) but it’s relatively expensive and any line will do the same stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you mean RG-58.

      For HF only, it’s fine. For 6m and above, it’s too lossy to be adequate at low power levels.

      RG-8X is superior cable and doesn’t cost that much more per foot, and reminds me of a conversation I had over the weekend regarding HF, VHF-UHF, and feedlines.

      RG-58 is generally the bottom of the barrel cable, but is fine for HF, as is RG-8U or RG-8X. HF presents far less signal loss in feedlines than its higher frequency counterparts.

      LMR 240/400, etc are extremely low loss cables, but much more brittle than RG, meaning it can’t be wound up as tight as RG coax. I use LMR for my permanent VHF base antenna, but use RG-8X for everything in the field.

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  2. 55six

    Another great article. I have a question about the balun article. Would you say that the one from the article would be sufficient for my TS430 into a dipole for 20, 40 and 80M? I also need to buy a tuner. Would you recommend an auto type or a DIY type? Why?

    I am a general licensed ham but have not ventured into HF yet and I am trying to put my stuff together. I have a G5RV but do not like the ladder line aspect of it where I have it up. I plan to build another style hence the questions about the balun. -55six

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The featured Balun is best on 40-160, but there’s nothing saying you can’t try it. I’ll defer that to Keypounder, as it’s likely just a torroid size issue.

      I’ve run both manual tuners and autos, and I use autotuners for their ease of use in the field (not that manuals are hard). I really have had great success with LDG both in use and with their customer service.

      The G5RV really likes 20M, where it was designed to perform, but works well on the other bands too.

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  3. dangero

    Nice, I have had outstanding luck with the Chameleon ECOMM II, I ran my antenna analyzer on it and it was typically below 2:1 across all bands up 10-30m and then not much more than an easily tunable 3:1 on 40 and 80. For the record I strung it 8 feet up (as high as I could reach) between two trees about 60 feet apart and also ran a 60 foot counter poise wire. You are also right about tarred twine bits 120lb test which is plenty for 95% of what I need cordage to do and it’s cheaper and more compact than 550 cord.
    http://chameleonantenna.com/BASE%20ANTENNA/CHA%20EMCOMM%20II/CHA%20EMCOMM%20II.html

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Brushbeater: LNR End-Fed Trail Friendly Antenna AAR | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  5. Matt

    I’m glad to see this article. I had been looking at this antenna, but he recommends not using a tuner with it. I was hesitant to go with it as I was worried about damage to my radio. Glad to see that it works with one.

    Since you build most of your antennas, what need do you see for owning an antenna analyzer? I am new to the station/antenna building (I have used them in the military and aviation for quite a while). I have been looking at various analyzers, mainly interested in models that would be more easy to use in the field. Some show the magnitude of the impedance but not the reactive component or sign. Would that be an important feature?

    Thanks for the great site and all of the outstanding information.

    Matt

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you like it!

      LNR says the antenna is resonant on 10, 20, and 40m (which it is) under ideal conditions. But this doesn’t account for minor impedance changes varying with differing heights or the feedpoint and radiating element.With a tuner, none of these differences, minor though they may be, will put the transmitter at risk.

      You need an antenna analyzer for building your own antennas- not only for accuracy but also to mitigate any potential damage to your equipment when building at home. It also may tell you things about your design you otherwise wouldn’t know, such as other bands it’s resonant or usable on aside from the one it’s cut for.

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  6. G

    Another great article; as usual. Thanks!

    A couple questions…
    Would an antenna like that help with a 2 meter ham such as a VX7R or others?
    Would an antenna like that help with a receive-only radio such as a Tecsun PL600?

    Thanks in advance

    Liked by 1 person

    1. An antenna such as this one won’t help out much for what the VX7R does.

      Being that it’s VHF and UHF, it works Line of Sight (LOS), and can directionally be used with a long whip, external J-Pole, the Jungle Antenna (aka 292 groundplane) and the Moxon.

      I’ve wrote about homebrewing the last two-

      https://brushbeater.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/the-jungle-antenna/

      https://brushbeater.wordpress.com/2016/06/13/diy-moxon-antennas-and-lpi/

      If you have any other questions, feel free to shoot me an email.

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  7. Question re the counterpoise (CP):

    Is it as simple as running another wire below and in parallel to the radiating element above?

    Is the CP connected to anything?

    I think you told me in this piece why my limited tests with the end-fed were NFG.

    Thanks for all you do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for all the attention you draw to what I write CA!

      As to the question, a CP is indeed a simple wire, a tad longer than the radiating element. I say that because ground radials on a vertical (the groundplane) is the same concept. For a low Dipole or EF, simply stringing the wire out on the ground achieves the desired results and minimizes ground loss of your signal. It’s not always a must, but it’s usually a good idea.

      I have more showing off the very simple one I use in the next EF review that’ll be up probably late tomorrow, God willing.

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