Saturday, April 7, 2012

In Pursuit of Immaculate Reception

Thought for the day:  Two antennas fell in love and got married. The ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was exceptional.

[THEME: Amateur radio]

Unless you're talking about packing on a passel of pounds before your weekly weigh-in at the Overeaters Anonymous meeting, the word GAIN generally has a positive connotation. When talking about antennas, the word refers to its directionality, as compared to another antenna, like a dipole. (a very basic antenna consisting of center-fed wire or tubing)

In simplest terms, when it comes to antennas, size does matter, and bigger is generally better. The larger the antenna, the higher the gain, and the higher the gain, the better you can send and receive signals in a specific direction.

At left is a simple wire dipole, center-fed with ladder line. The closer the length of the wire is to a full wave length of the desired frequency, the higher the gain. Therefore, a 1/2 or 5/8 wavelength antenna will outperform a 1/4 wave one.

One of the most popular high gain antennas used by amateur radio operators all over the world is the Yagi, or beam. See the three parallel elements? The one in the center is the driven element, and it's actually a dipole. The longer element to the left is the reflector, and the shorter one to the right is the director. By using a rotor to turn the antenna, the signal can be directed in the direction of the director. (Try saying THAT fast three times!)

Adding additional directors to a Yagi increases its gain. That's why the antennas used for such things as moonbounce and direction finding have so many elements. Same for cell tower, and TV antennas.

So to amateur radio operators, GAIN is a very good thing. (Don't even bring up that nasty word loss.)

     Oooh, such fuzzy reception! I think that guy needs a higher gain antenna.


  1. How sad is this: I still watch television (when I actually watch television) via an antenna. Get good gain though. :)

  2. I KNEW size mattered. I KNEW it!!

  3. I like this positive spin on GAIN.
    :-) Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  4. L.G.- With TV signals being digital now, an antenna can often get you a better picture than cable. (Cheaper ... no, make that "more frugal" ... than cable, too.)

    Delores- Leave it to you! You totally crack me up, lady.

  5. Tracy Jo- Hey, of course it's positive ... it's amateur radio! (Only things negative here are the electrons!) You have a wonderful weekend, too.

  6. I am sooooo impressed. How do you know all this????? I'd like to but I know nothing. A really great learning theme.

  7. Manzie- HA! Thanks, but I only know this stuff because I'm a total nerd and find it interesting. YOU, on the other hand, know all about organic foods and how to dance like an angel. So we can learn from each other. Happy weekend.

  8. I love all of this new information that I GAIN from your blog!!

  9. Your jokes crack me up... Love learning new stuff

  10. Hah! That joke raised a smile :)

  11. It is amazing how the same word has different connotations to different readers.

  12. That's a really cool post! Good luck in your A-Z challenge, I am also participating. :)

  13. So, that's another new thing I've learned on your blog :-)

  14. Momto8- And I always GAIN something when I visit your blog, too.

    Jaimee- Good to hear. (I crack me up, too ... isn't that AWFUL?!)

    Botanist- I can almost imagine my kids saying, "No! No! Don't encourage her!"

    Cindy- Sounds like some other bloggers must've selected "gain" as their word. I'll have to check around.

    Hannah- Thanks. Good luck to you, too.

    Sarah- Cool. There'll be a test at the end. (Just kidding.)

  15. I love that last picture! And the joke. I like how you pack your information with funny stuff. Impressive knowledge too.

  16. Hi Susan. Stopped by to say that, Yes, Ernest Borgnine WAS in the 1953 movie From Here to Eternity. He played a cruel sergeant, and won acclaim for the role. I should have mentioned him in the post.

    YOUR post is informative, and a lot of fun. I did try to say "directed in the direction of the director." That's a mouthful!

    Have a great Easter Sunday!!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

  17. Hahahahahahaha! I like the joke at the beginning. Have a blessed Easter.


  18. Nick- Glad you liked it, and thank you for stopping by and for signing on as a new follower. Welcome aboard!

    Ann- Thanks. I THOUGHT he was in that movie, but I couldn't remember for sure. Guess that means it must be about time to watch it again, huh? And a very blessed Easter to you, too.

    Janie- Woo HOO! I made Janie laugh! Happy Easter, kiddo.

  19. Hi Susan .. I think you slightly lost me here - maybe I'm antennaed out .. but love the title and thought at the beginning ..

    Cheers Hilary

  20. Once aGAIN you come up with a posting that is well received and you certainly didn't HAM it up too much :)
    And I'm loving that flag, eh
    Hope you had a peaceful, positive Easter and thank you for your thoughtful comment on my posting.
    All the best and I shall stay tuned to your superbly written blog :)

  21. I'm more a biochemist/microbiologist so physics is not an area I've studied.
    In your first picture of a Yagi, does the beam propogate along the axis of the director, or 90ºto it. If it's 90º, does that mean along all radii?

  22. What do you expect from a walking carpet?

    (Super post, Sus.)

  23. Clever title and I especially enjoyed, "Gain is a very good thing!" Julie

  24. Hilary- Thanks. I appreciate you following these posts ... even if you don't exactly "follow" them.

    Gary- Yeah, I figured that flag would resonate with quite a few of you guys. (LOTS of Canadian hams, ya know!) Thanks for your punny comment, and for hanging in there with me through these posts. I do appreciate it, dear sir.

    Twisted- Propagation from a beam is 90 degrees from the axis, and along all radii. Good question. Thanks for stopping by.

    Suze- Thanks. Glad ya liked it.

    Julie- Thanks. I enjoy playing around with the titles for these things.