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Home-brew Compact 6dBi Collinear Antenna

(first published September 2005, details of higher-gain version added July 2013)

This page details the onstru tion of an easy!to! ma"e ollinear 3#0 degrees omni!dire tional, verti ally polarised, antenna for $02%11b&g 'ireless net'or"ing% The antenna is very robust and ompa t, and has a gain of appro(imately 5!#d)i% )a "ground *arious 'ebsites detail the onstru tion of a ollinear antenna suitable for 2%+,-. 'ireless net'or"ing, in luding wireless.gumph.org and guerrilla%net (no longer available, but mirrored here)% -o'ever, these antennas are /uite omple( to build, being made up of numerous short lengths of oa( 'hi h must be a urately ut to length% 0ou also need to "no' the velo ity fa tor of the oa( that is being used, as most of the measurements are based on it% 1 variation of the oa( ollinear is onstru ted from brass rod and brass tubing, but is still 2ust as fiddly to onstru t% Some time ago, 3 made an $!element oa( ollinear, using the wireless.gumph.org instru tions% Antenna comparison testing onfirmed the gain 'as appro(imately $d)i% -o'ever, it too" many hours to onstru t, and the antenna has very little physi al strength% 3 resorted to able!tying a length of do'el to the oa(, and then en asing it all inside some 25mm ele tri al onduit% 3 'as parti ularly intrigued 'hen a friend pointed out a mu h simpler ollinear, onsisting of 2ust a length of opper 'ire appropriately bent, as detailed here, 'ith a laimed gain of about #d)i% This version provides a number of benefits over the oa( onstru tion, re/uiring far less effort to onstru t, and providing a smaller and more robust antenna% 4hile the #d)i gain is less than that of an $ element oa( ollinear, the gain an be improved by increasing the number of elements% 5oubling the number of elements 'ill in rease the gain by almost 3d)i, ie, double the gain%

6arts 7e/uired The materials re/uired8 appro( 300mm 2%5mm2 opper 'ire panel!mount female 9! onne tor 250mm length of 20mm light!duty ele tri al onduit 2 end! aps to suit 20mm onduit and optionally, for mounting of the ompleted ollinear antenna8 2 lamps to suit 20mm onduit or metal bra "et 3 used a length of opper 'ire from some s raps of 2%5mm 2 ele tri al able 3 had lying around% This able has a diameter of appro(imately 1%#mm, and is fle(ible enough to bend into the re/uired shape 'ithout too mu h effort or spe ialised tools%

2%5mm2 3! ore ele tri al able 1 panel!mount female 9!type onne tor is also re/uired, to allo' the antenna to be onne ted to a 'ireless devi e% 9ote that other onne tors (ie, T9:, S;1, et ) an also be used, depending on the onne tors on your pigtails% 3 used a panel!mount female 9!type onne tor, as sho'n in the photos belo'%

panel!mount female 9!type onne tor 5esign 5etails This ollinear simply onsists of a length of opper 'ire 'ith some loops lo ated at spe ifi lo ations% The dimensions of the se tions of the antenna are important, and are sho'n in the diagram belo'% dimensions of the ollinear The length of the bottom se tion is 1&2 'avelength (the left se tion in the diagram above), the entre se tion is 3&+ 'avelength, and 'hip se tion on the top is slightly less than 3&+ 'avelength, apparently to redu e the apa itan e effe t% The $02%11b standard uses 2%+12,-. to 2%+$+,-. fre/uen y range, so at the entre of that fre/uen y range, 1&2 'avelength is #1mm, and 3&+ 'avelength is <1%5mm% These dimensions appear to be onsistent 'ith similar ommer ial antennas% :onstru tion Start onstru tion of the antenna from the bottom end, and solder one length of the opper 'ire into the 9 onne tor% ;easure 1&2 'avelength from the top of the 9 onne tor, and reate the first loop%

loop detail, and ompleted bare antenna 9ote that the loops are offset from the 'ire 'hi h ma"es the verti al se tion of the antenna% Then measure an additional 3&+ 'avelength, and reate the se ond loop% Trim the 'hip se tion on the top so it=s the orre t length% 3f you are intending to use a length of 20mm onduit to house your antenna, be sure to "eep the diameter of the oils to appro(imately 15mm or less, to ensure they 'ill fit inside the onduit (20mm light!duty ele tri al onduit has an internal diameter of 1#mm)%

ompleted ollinear -o'ever, a length of opper 'ire isn=t parti ularly robust% >ne of the easier 'ays to address this short oming is to en lose the antenna inside a radome% 9ote that you need to use something that=s transparent to 2%+,-., else it 'ill adversely affe t the performan e and operation of your antenna% 3 used a 250mm length of 20mm light!duty ele tri al onduit, 'ith some end aps to suit% The 20mm light!duty onduit has an internal diameter of 1#mm, and the loops bent in the opper 'ere a snug fit inside the onduit% 3f you need something a little more roomy, then 25mm light!duty onduit an be used% T'o small bends are re/uired in the 'ire near the base of the antenna, to ensure that the loops are entrally lo ated above the 9 onne tor, thus allo'ing the entire antenna to be inserted into the onduit% Testing indi ates these bends to not have any noti able impa t on the performan e of the antenna%

20mm onduit and end aps To mount the antenna, a suitably si.ed hole 'as drilled in one of the end aps, and after dis arding the 9 onne tor=s nut and 'asher, the 9 onne tor 'as s re'ed into the end ap from the outside%

9!type onne tor s re'ed into an end ap The antenna an no' be inserted into the onduit, and the other end ap an be installed%

en losed ollinear 3f the antenna is to be used outdoors, the end aps should be glued on 'ith appropriate onduit glue, to ensure a 'eather!proof seal% 9ote that the antenna should be tested before gluing the end aps in pla e% ;ounting The ollinear antenna is designed to be mounted verti ally% The onduit radome provides a robust and sturdy en losure for the antenna, and if re/uired, it an be mounted outside in the 'eather% 3f mounting it outside, be sure to 'rap the 9! onne tor appropriately in self!amalgamating tape to prevent any moisture ingress% 6lasti lamps made spe ifi ally for onduit an be used to atta h the antenna to

a verti al surfa e% 1s these lamps are plasti , they 'ill not interfere 'ith the operation of the antenna, 'hile all!metal mounts pla ed in the radiation pattern ould affe t the operation of the antenna%

20mm onduit lamps 1fter atta hing the lamps to the surfa e 'here the antenna is to be mounted, the antenna an easily be lipped into the lamps, and an also be easily removed%

sample mounting using lamps 1n alternative method of mounting the antenna is 'ith a short length of right! angle galvanised steel% 1 suitable hole needs to be drilled in one side, and the antenna an be atta hed to the galvanised steel by removing the 9! onne tor

and atta hed opper antenna, and passing it through the hole in the galvanised steel% The antenna 'ill be firmly atta hed bet'een the 9! onne tor and the end ap%

using a metal bra "et 3f you 2ust 'ant to use the antenna for asual stumbling or 'ardriving, there is no need to mount it, and it an 2ust be used as a handheld antenna%

demonstrating 2ust ho' small it is

?sage @or information on onne ting an e(ternal antenna to a 'ireless radio, have a loo" at the page on using wireless antennas% Testing 4hen building my first ollinear using this design, 3 made the loops in a similar 'ay to those seen on many ommer ial antennas 'hi h have multi!loop oils, 'ith the 'ire above and belo' the oil being entrally lo ated 'ith regards to the loop% first attempt at the loops -o'ever, after doing some further resear h, 3 realised this 'as in orre t, and made another ollinear using the loops as per the approa h des ribed above% Some /ui " omparison testing indi ates the ollinear 'ith the offset loops performs mu h better than the ollinear 'ith the entered loops%

9eed ;ore ,ainA ;ore gain an be a hieved by adding additional segments to the middle of the ollinear, as sho'n in the diagram belo'%

dimensions of a longer variation of the ollinear Some /ui " omparison testing indi ates this longer ollinear has appro(imately 2d)i more gain than the #d)i version, 'ith a gain of about $d)i% 9ote that lengthening the ollinear antenna in this 'ay 'ill redu e the verti al beam'idth of the radiation pattern%