Icom IC-703

Icom IC-703 is a great choice for radio communications out in the wild such as when the SHTF. Not only is the size of the IC-703 attractive to preppers and survivalists alike it has a great many features that could be a great assets in survivalist and/or prepper situation. Some people will comment that the IC-703 radio is “just a QRP rig” and they might be right in a way. But a radio’s performance is based more on the antenna than on its power output. A good QRP rig such as the IC-703 works very well in mobile radio situations as well as with base station use. Running an IC-703 portable, such as a prepper or survivalist would do, is a very good application for this versatile little ham radio.

Here are some of the features of the IC-703 radio by Icom:

  • Comes with a general coverage receiver
  • Many memories
  • RIT (receiver incremental tuning)
  • Preamp as well as an attenuator (although preamps are generally though to be worthless on the HF bands)
  • Dual VFO’s
  • 1 Hz display for tuning into odd frequencies
  • DSP, auto-notch, and noise reduction
  • SWR meter

There are TWO IC-703 models out there so be sure you look at a prospective purchase closely before you buy it. The last IC-703 was designated as an Icom IC-703 Plus designating it as the IC-703 with 6 meters in it. The original radios sold by Icom stated “HF/50MHz” on the front panel but that was a printing error. The early IC-703 radios did not have six meters in them so beware when buying an IC-703!

As any honest amateur radio operator will tell you, a good antenna is the main part of a communications system. It doesn’t matter what band you’re operating on, what mode you are using, or even what radio you’re running. Preppers and survivalists alike need to learn to employ the best antenna they can come up with while still maintaining some sense of portability. Wire antennas, vertical antennas, and dipole antennas are good performers in the field or other portable operations. As has been mentioned elsewhere in this web site: “A dollar spent on an antenna is worth ten dollars spent on the radio.” For some reviews of the IC-703: ICOM IC-703 REVIEWS.
IC-703 radio


ZeroFive Antennas

Stealth Antennas
were covered on another page of our web site (stealth antennas) and yet we felt the need to cover the Zero Five line of amateur radio antennas. The reason for this is that the Zero Five line of antennas will cover any and all HF1 bands as well as all the shortwave radio frequencies. Along with the frequency coverage the Zero Five is excellent for stealth work. With no traps2 or coils3 sticking out it is difficult to see, paint it with colors that blend in with the surroundings and it is even harder to detect.

Why Does It Work So Well ?

The popular ZF-43 43 foot vertical cannot be matched for quality and can be a great multi-band antenna for an antenna restricted QTH4. 05-ZF43_InstalledThe VSWR5 presents a very manageable load on all the HF ham bands except 30m. Our customers find that their built-in radio auto tuners can tune this antenna. The design goal was accomplished with careful design of the antenna feed point and taper, careful measurements and design of the nylon insulator and capacitor it creates, and the matching transformer/balun to achieve this kind of VSWR5 performance. For a better view of the Zero Five ZF-43 antenna shown here just click on the picture and it will open in a new browser window at full resolution. In this case you could paint the antenna a flat dark green and it would difficult to spot until you were up close to it.

The Flagpole Series

Why a flagpole antenna? Stealth! It doesn’t matter if you are a survivalist or you simply live in an area where antennas aren’t allowed the Zero Five 05-flagpolewebFlagpole antennas are the answer. These fantastic antennas come in three different sizes: 18 foot, 24 foot, and the 33 foot model. These antennas are made from heavy duty T-6 1/8″ wall aluminum tubing. The custom welded bolt down base with its massive 4 inch OD CNC machined base will let you run your rig at legal limit all day long.

The Zero Five Flagpole antenna comes complete with a 3 inch gold ball for the top, pulley truck, 3 x 5 foot American Flag, and rope with a tie off. This particular antenna is made for a more permanent installation due to the mounting requirements. All of these antennas require a concrete base to bolt the antenna base to so that it will withstand the forces placed on it by the flag as it blows in the wind. While this may not be an ideal antenna for someone on the move it will prove to be a great addition to a permanent base camp installation.

1HF when used to describe radio equipment refers to the High Frequency bands.

2Traps part of an antenna used to make it multiband.

3Coils part of an antenna used to make it multiband.

4QTH this is a “Q” code that hams use for your house/camp/location.

5VSWR Voltage Standing Wave Ratio (VSWR). A comparison of the power transmitted to the power received back from the system with respect to a 50 Ohm line impedance. A VSWR of 1.0 is a 100% efficient antenna, a VSWR of 1.5 is 97%, a VSWR of 2.0 is 89%.

Stealth Hidden Camouflage

Stealth Hidden Camouflage

Stealth: stealthy – furtive or surreptitiously, denoted or otherwise marked by quiet, caution, and secrecy, it can also mean to take great pains to avoid being observed;

Stealth is an absolute necessity when you are in survival mode especially when it comes to your communications equipment. The very best communications antenna for a survivalist is one that no one can see. You know yourself that paranoia will run rampant and anything seen as a “threat” will be reported. The last thing you want to do is to draw attention to yourself or your location by having a huge antenna sticking up in the air. Sure, the big antennas work so much better but they also tend to attract unwanted attention. So with this page we will show you some antennas that will perform very well for the bands they are created for and yet will not draw a lot of attention.

Before you go any further on this page you may want to read about a ham operator who specializes in working stealth modes with stealth antennas. The article is entitled: “Secrets of a Successful Stealth Operator“.

Stealth Antennas

The Grasswire

Grass Wire Antenna
Grass Wire Antenna

What is it? Put simply, it is an end-fed, longwire antenna that is laid right on the grass. Hence the name. The original grasswire used by K3MT in the summer of 1988 was just 204′ of #18 AWG magnet wire laid along the property line, anywhere from 1″ to 6″ above the ground. This sketch shows plan and elevation views of a typical installation. Both an 8′ ground rod and optional counterpoise wires are shown. Use one or the other. Both are not needed. (Click the image for a better view of the Grasswire Antenna.)

Small Loop Antennas

Magnetic loops are very effective small antennas. these 3 to 3 1/2+ foot antennas perform close to and in some cases (low mounting heights for one) better than even a small beam. The reason is that a magnetic field is much more concentrated than an electrical one, for example a small horizontal loop at 17 feet performs better (lower radiation angle) than a full size dipole at 35 feet, in fact better for DX than a beam at that height because of the much lower takeoff angle. If you place a beam 1 foot off the ground it will only radiate straight up while a vertical loop will still work DX stations quite well. This smaller more intense magnetic field also has the advantage of greatly reducing TVI – RFI potential if the loop is more than 15 feet or so away from TV antennas, electronics etc. Another advantage of this magnetic field is the very low background noise heard on the loop because most man made noise is electrical fields. For example if you lived next to a Shopping Mall the loop would not hear all that lighting and power transformers. Also reducing interference is the loops “Hi Q” which means that it receives & transmits on a narrow band range compared to the “full size” antennas. This effect is very pronounced on the lower bands that the loop will work.

Low Profile Operating Outside Antennas

Antennas outside ? Not here ! Well you might be surprised. There are many methods to get your antennas out in the free air. The key here is do the very best you can to blend in or conceal your installation. Do your best not to attract attention. Install your antenna at night if possible, another way is to mix it in with some other project like painting, repairs or hanging Christmas lights.


A little paint does very little to your RF efficiency but goes a long way to disguise your antennas. Since my house is in the clear with few trees I use a blue-gray color that blends into the sky and in my case my house. Use a flat color if possible. Also there is a line of camouflage paints that are made for cars that are great around foliage, fences or decks. Experiment by painting boards to see what will work best for you.


Radials: On HF the length of the radials on the ground is is not as critical because the earth detunes them. Run as many as you can as close as you can to the 1/4 wave length for your lowest frequency. I would suggest that you bury them down about 1 inch. Radiator(s): On VHF & UHF full size and radiators are usually fairly easy to hide. For example use 3/16 rod instead of 1/2″ tubing for your J-pole and paint to match, or hide it in a fake roof vent. Several amateurs have built 1/4 and even 5/8 wave antennas into a working wind vane. On HF verticals can be built into “birdhouses” on a pole, these can be full sized on 10 meters or so and loaded or capacitance hats in the “house” itself for other bands. A popular theme is the flagpole antenna. One design for a multi-band version is in the ARRL antenna book, it consists of a pole made of PVC with home made traps inside. Another good way is to feed a ground isolated 26 foot pole against a radial system with a concealed remote turner at its base. Also a wire radial can be run up a wood flag pole. Coax: Use a good quality coax cable to reduce RF & interaction problems.


Dipoles can be very effective and also being balanced usually are some of the cleanest in terms of TVI and RFI. The eves of your house is a good spot to hide a dipole, just staple it up there and paint to match. Also a dipole laid flat on your roof can have good results. Inverted Vee configurations tend to work best to stateside contacts while flat tops high in the air work best for DX. A surprisingly good choice is the “invisible wire”, small gauge wire as small as 30 gauge can be used if suspended properly, I suggest 26 gauge magnet wire. These small wire sizes will create some loss but not too much until you get to the low bands and even there will work OK. Also 18 gauge or so wire can be used and allowed to oxidize to have no reflection of sunlight. Caution with colors is necessary to prevent birds from running into your wire. I found light green is invisible to our feathered friends but they avoid dark green. These antennas can be supported by trees, fences etc. Fishing line is very useful for tying to structures and pulleys with small springs or weights can be used to let the dipole move in the wind without stretching. Feed line: A little care is needed here, be careful of running parallel to electrical lines or duct work if using balanced lines. Use the best coax or twin lead you can but if you can use 300 ohm TV lead with some loss for easy routing.


This is a bit tougher, VHF & UHF beams can be hidden from view behind chimneys or trees. HF beams even on 10m are big and hard to camouflage but a clever ham could possibly shorten one to look like a TV antenna. I expect to see more antennas like the new Hy-Gain 2/6 meter beam that looks a lot like a TV yagi and lets you take advantage of the Communication act of 1996. This FCC ruling states that if you own your property you can have a outdoor TV antenna despite local covenants etc.

Commercial Antennas For Stealth Mode

portable vertical antenna
BuddiPole – It’s a dipole… It’s a vertical… It fits in your travel bag! The Buddipole™ is more than an antenna, it’s a versatile system for launching your signal. Optimized for transmit power and proven for DX work, the Buddipole™ is the secret weapon used by HF portable operators all around the world. Precision engineered for maximum performance using ultra light composite materials and High-Q coils. Zero-loss balun with Quick-Connect feedpoint.

The CliffDweller II antenna!

The Original Variable Length HF Antenna

The CliffDweller II is the Original variable length HF antenna that adjusts it’s size to fit YOUR operating environment. 6 to 80 Mtrs. – QRP to 100 Watts – Anywhere you need it.
Composed of 130 feet of wire (a full half wavelength on 80 mtrs!), the CliffDweller II operates in as little as 16 feet (8 feet per side) to a fully extended length of 50 feet (25 feet per side) or anywhere in between. It works in any space you have available!

For traveling or for storage, fully compressed (as shown), the CliffDweller II takes up less than one foot of space. Take it with you anywhere you’ll need an HF antenna. Operates great in permanent or portable operation. Makes a great emergency “have on hand” antenna – used by several emergency ham services around the country.

The Force 12 flagpole antenna is a large diameter aluminum pole that is the actual antenna. It is not a plastic tube with a wire inside. The Force 12 flagpole is an effective antenna and is a solution for many people who live in restricted areas, while allowing us to be patriotic. The basic flagpole antenna system is composed of the flagpole, the radials and the feed line. The optional feed point kit contains a feed point pigtail that connects the flagpole to the coax feed line and four (4) radials.

One of the best choices in stealth antennas is those produced by the Zero Five antenna company. Their antennas are quite hard to discern and can be made even more stealthy by applying a coat of paint that coincides with the surrounding areas. Zero Five also sells flagpole antennas that are virtually impossible to discern with Old Glory displayed on them. We have a little more detail on the Zero Five antennas on this link: Zero Five Antennas.

Grasswire Antenna © MICHAEL TOIA, K3MT .

Small Loop Antennas © CLIFFORD HOLLOWAY, N0HC

Low Profile Operating Outside Antennas © CLIFFORD HOLLOWAY, N0HC

How To Launch An Antenna

How To Launch An Antenna

Now How Do I Get It Up There? Getting an antenna up into a tree is the single most easy method of getting your antenna up and operational. Many people have come up with many unique ways of getting the middle or ends of their antennas into the trees. Among the many methods used to “launch” antennas:

While all of these are good, proven methods they are not exactly the safest at times. As mentioned earlier the spud gun might have legal issues to deal with in your area and also has a side issue of the noise it creates when fired. Bows and arrows would seem to be the best but it takes and accomplished archer and a good bow to get the arrow to the top of the tree where you need it to be. Slingshots with fishing weights can work but the weights need to be just right or you risk them getting snagged in the branches. To use a rock would require someone with a major league pitcher’s arm to get the rock anywhere near the top of a tree of minimal proportions. Using a fishing rod seems to be a great way to get an antenna up into a tree but you better be good with it or else you’ll wind up wasting time and fishing line in failed attempts.

So what’s left? What’s the secret? Well, it isn’t really a secret and is actually a compilation of several of the methods listed above. Rather than blather on it would be best to hear from the manufacturer of this fine product which, by the way, is widely used by amateur radio operators (hams), cable installers, and tree surgeons, and phone installers.

EZ HANG — SlingShot & Reel Device for installing wire antennas.

THE NEW AND IMPROVED Custom EZ HANG WITH FOLDABLE WRIST SUPPORT with UV protected 11″ long Bands and 1 1/2″ pouch, The EZ HANG’s basic construction is welded steel attached to a reel that is corrosion resistant plastic and stainless steel. The reel comes with 300 feet of 10-pound-test monofilament line installed, a quick disconnect clip to release weight has a easy-to-see “bright yellow” powder coated cannon ball one-ounce lead weight. Plus one extra weight and clip. (Preceding & image copyrighted by EZ HANG).

EZHANG antenna launcher

Please note: we are not affiliated with the EZ Hang Company.


Now once you get everything where you want it you will need a way to secure the antenna to prevent it from falling down. The best way is of course to tie it off with rope and this presents another problem which is that of tying knots. We went to the best knot site we know of to get some information on the tying of knots (www.realknots.com).

Instruction Pages

Terminal Knots, Overhand-knot, (Flemish)eight and more.

To bend two lines together. Reef-Knot, Sheet-Bend, Carrick-Bend, True-Lover’s, and more.

To tie on an object. Timber Hitch, Constrictor, The Eight, and more.

Bowline, Bowstring, and more.

The running bowline, hangman, and more.

The monkey fist, Dolly (trucker-hitch).

Some Fancy work.

1 Spud guns: A spud gun is a pipe-based cannon which uses air pressure, or combustion of a gaseous fuel, or both, to launch large projectiles at low speed. They are built to fire chunks of potato, as a hobby, or to fire other sorts of projectiles, for practical uses. In some jurisdictions spud guns are outlawed or have restrictions on their use and may require licenses and certification of the gun.

Near Vertical Incident Skywave

Near Vertical Incident Skywave

Near Vertical Incident Skywave antennas (better known as NVIS antennas) are one of the most viable antenna possibilities that survivalists might use. They are quick to deploy, easily maintained, and are high performance antennas as well. For simplicity the remainder of this article will use NVIS to denote the information is about Near Vertical Incident Skywave antenna systems.

While the term NVIS might be new to most it it highly likely that a survivalist or prepper might already have a NVIS antenna in their communications arsenal.

As for the application of the NVIS antenna it would pay us to realize that NVIS antennas are generally lightweight, high performance antennas, and quickly deployed. Just these three attributes make NVIS antennas highly desirable for both survivalists and preppers.

One other feature of NVIS antennas is that the always “handy with their hands” survivalist and prepper can make their own NVIS antennas. All that is needed to construct a NVIS antenna is a vertical support and wire. For the wire you can use wire gauge as small as 24 gauge as long as you will not be using any type of large amplifier.

If you want a really great portable antenna mount then you might want to take a look at the Tilt-N-Raise® portable antenna mount. This unique mount slides into the receiver hitch on the back of your vehicle and allows you to quickly and safely to tilt the antenna up into place. For more information about ordering the Tilt-N-Raise you can visit their website at: http://www.tilt-n-raise.com.

Here is part of an article that goes into the nitty gritty of NVIS antenna technology by Harold Melton, KV5R who is the copyright owner of the full article. The full text of the article is available in its entirety at the following link:

Understanding Amateur Radio NVIS Antennas and Propagation

What is NVIS?

Near-Vertical Incident Skywave is a combination of radio hardware, skywave radio propagation, operating procedures, cooperation, and knowledge used by a group of radio operators who need reliable regional communications. It fills the gap between line-of-sight groundwave and long-distance “skip” skywave communications.

German ground forces first documented NVIS techniques in WW-II. NVIS was more fully documented, studied, and used by US forces in Vietnam. Radiomen in military vehicles discovered that their HF whips would sometimes work much better when tied down horizontally. Amateur radio operators have been studying NVIS propagation and operating techniques for at least fifteen years. In tactical military use, NVIS allows communications around the region while providing very little groundwave signal for the enemy to home in on. Any radio operator that has used a horizontal antenna well under a half-wave high has used NVIS.

NVIS propagation is generally considered to be F-layer ionospheric reflection at angles of 70-90 degrees. It is skywave propagation without the usual skip zone. The purpose of NVIS is to communicate locally and regionally, out to a few hundred miles, with moderate power, simple antennas, and no skip zone. NVIS is typically used on 160, 80/75, 60, and 40-meter bands by Amateur radio operators using relatively low horizontal wire dipole antennas.

NVIS operations are optimized by understanding and controlling two major factors: (1) Proper antenna design and placement, and (2) proper training of the operators. The antenna is designed and placed to provide the maximum possible gain straight up, on two or three frequency bands. Operator training includes an understanding of antennas, ionospheric propagation, and operational procedures.

Why Do It?

First and foremost, to completely eliminate the skip zone. This enhances all forms of local and regional HF communications, for all practical and experimental purposes.

Emergency groups such as ARES and RACES are studying NVIS propagation, techniques, and equipment deployment for emergency preparedness. NVIS is the tactical communication system of choice in mountainous areas, any areas without complete repeater coverage, and all situations where repeater-based systems have failed or might fail. With the recent release of manufactured mobile and even portable HF radios, HF, and antennas employing NVIS propagation, should become much more popular and useful for disaster tactical communications.

Researchers and users have observed that NVIS antennas work considerably better in the valley than on the mountain top. This is due to much better ground conductivity in the valley than on the dry, rocky mountain top. This happy fact eliminates a lot of unnecessary climbing, and allows the antenna to utilize trees for both support and cover.

NVIS-equipped Amateur fixed stations enjoy regional nets and rag-chews without the annoying skip zone. It is particularly useful to net controllers and emergency practice groups. All fixed stations should take steps to immediately supplement their antenna farms with at least a dual-band NVIS antenna (described herein).

Antenna and propagation experimentation is FUN! Building and deploying antennas is as close as many hams get to home brewing. NVIS is as easy as antenna experimentation can get. The antennas are simple, and are installed very low. Light-gauge wire and nylon string may be nailed to trees at extension-ladder heights. Dropping a dipole and making a change to it takes only minutes and may easily be done by one person without the need to obtain helpers or plan a big event.

NVIS antennas are stealthy. Communism-by-contract property owner’s associations have restricted the placement of visible antennas and severely stifled Amateurs’ pleasure, emergency preparedness, experimentation, and innovation. With NVIS, a fine wire may be brought through the trees, or routed along the top of a privacy fence. The Ham thusly equipped may never win any low-band DX awards, but will still have ample opportunities for QSOs and nets within the regional circle provided by an NVIS antenna in the daytime, in addition to some low-band DX at night, particularly in the winter when the storms are gone.

If you could only have one antenna, it should be an NVIS with ladder-line feed and a tuner, as this may be operated on all bands. The “best” multiband antenna is probably the 260-foot dipole, or 520-foot loop, with 76 feet of windowed ladder line and a tuner.

How to Make a Good NVIS Antenna

The best NVIS antenna is one which is simple and effective. One favorite is the dual-band dipole. This antenna uses two dipoles, one for 75 meters (about 122 feet), and one for 40 meters (about 65 feet), both connected directly to 50-ohm coax and supported at 5 points by trees at 10-12 feet. The two dipoles should be well separated at the ends, or they will interact. They may be strung up in an “X” or a “+” shape. The bandwidth of the 75-meter dipole will be quite narrow (<100kc), so it will benefit from using two sets of stagger-tuned wires. Some researchers recommend that the ends of the wires should be a few feet higher than the middle. This will increase gain and raise the feedpoint impedance a bit. If the feedpoint impedance is too low to match, the antenna should be a folded dipole, which will raise the feedpoint impedance by a factor of four. Stringing the antenna over a highly conductive surface, such as salt water or a wet, acidic marsh, will substantially improve the antenna’s performance, compared to stringing it over dry rock or sand.

Since the support points are typically 10-12 feet high, the wires must be both light and pulled tight to remove annoying sag. Appropriate wire ranges from #17 aluminum electric fence wire, ($14 for 1/4-mile at farm-supply stores), to #14 insulated stranded copper THHN, ($15 for 500 feet rolls at electrical suppliers, and available in green). The #17 aluminum isn’t very strong, but is almost invisible. The wire may be supported with green nylon string, available at garden centers. The center feedpoint and coax may be built around a simple insulator, waterproofed, and nailed to a tree trunk at 10 feet. Insulators and coax may be sprayed dark green or brown as needed. Antennas below 8 feet should use insulated wire to avoid RF burns. Insulation does not affect the performance of antenna wire, except (1) reduced wind and rain static, (2) lowers the velocity factor a tiny bit, and (3) prevents corrosion.

It is better to use a broadband current balun at the feedpoint when using coax. A simple choke balun made of coiled coax may be used if needed to remove common-mode currents from the line. Try to design the installation so the feedline extends away from the antenna at a 90-degree angle, for at least one-quarter wave. Also, the line should be detuned — that is, it’s length should fall between resonance points. If these are done, feedline RF pickup and re-radiation will be minimized, and a balun should not be needed. Detuning the feedline is also the cure for “RF in the shack” problems. Suitable lengths will depend on how the antenna is fed and whether one side is grounded or not. See the Antenna Book for determining appropriate lengths.

For resonant dipoles, avoid using twin-lead or ladder line — the feedpoint of these low dipoles will be well under 50 ohms and attaching 300-600 ohm parallel feedline will present a severe mismatch at the feedpoint. However, if the antenna is to be used non-resonant, with a tuner, ladder line should be used because coax is very lossy when operated at high VSWR.

There is a long-standing myth that dipoles must be resonant to be efficient. Non-resonant dipoles of similar size are just as efficient as resonant dipoles, assuming that (1) impedance mismatches are matched, (2) the matching devices are designed so that losses are insignificant, and (3) feedline losses are minimized (use ladder line when the SWR is high). It is also important to remember that baluns and matching transformers are quite lossy when operated with a mismatch on either or both ends. The ARRL Antenna Book shows how to make baluns for any ratio of impedance transformation. The myth come from the fact of severe losses in mismatched coaxial line. In the author’s experience, a 160-meter dipole fed with ladder line will outperform a 75-meter resonant dipole fed with coax, both at the same height, and both operated on 75 meters. This is because the larger antenna, even though not resonant on 75, has an “aperture” twice as large as the smaller one and thus captures, and radiates, more signal. However, it does have 4 partial nulls, while the half-wave dipole has only two.

To connect aluminum or steel wire to copper, make a couple of short #14 solid copper pigtails, twist them tightly into the aluminum or steel elements at the feedpoint, then solder an SO-239, or direct coax feed, to the copper tails. Waterproof the dissimilar metals connections with waterproof grease and Coax-Seal, or silicone caulk. If any moisture gets into the connection, the metals will corrode one another and make a nasty rectification point. Mechanical connectors (split-bolts or set-screw lugs) may be used but they also should be waterproofed.

Fancier (more expensive) NVIS installations include full-wave loops with automatic antenna tuners at the feedpoint. These antennas, if installed at 15-20 feet or more, will provide both excellent NVIS performance on the low bands and DX on the higher bands, where the height of the loop is over 1/2-wave. However, the pattern of the antenna will have several peaks and nulls on frequencies where it is several waves long.

Two things about loops are worth mentioning: (1) Loops are resonant on every harmonic, not just odd harmonics like dipoles, and (2) the lower the frequency (greater the length) of the loop, the more harmonic points it will have. For example, an 75-meter loop will resonate at about 3.8, 7.6, 11.4, 15.2, etc. But a 160-meter loop will resonate at about 1.8, 3.6, 5.4, 7.2, 9.0, 10.8, 12.6, 14.4, etc. — and the peak SWR arising from imbalanced reactances will be lower between all these points. Therefore, a big loop should be strung up, even if it cannot be used on its fundamental frequency because of low feedpoint impedance.

Carrying this idea further, an operator with acreage might run a really big loop (like 1100 – 2200 feet) atop a perimeter fence and it would have so many resonant points as to be useful as a broadband antenna — although the fundamental and all harmonics below about 3-4 MHz might be unusable for transmitting due to extremely low feedpoint impedance, unless feedpoint matching is used.

Another good antenna is the 3-wire folded dipole. This design may be used on all HF bands, with a tuner. The rules are pretty simple: Make a 2- or 3-wire folded dipole as long as possible (preferably 260 feet). Feed it directly with ladder line, and match it to the radio with a balanced line tuner. Use a 1:1 current balun at the tuner’s input. The reasons: (1) Feedpoint resistance of low antennas will be very low, typically 15 ohms or so, and the 3-wire folded dipole will raise it by a factor of 9. (2) Ladder line does not suffer any significant loss when operated at high line SWR (unlike coax). (3) Balanced tuners with the balun on the input (the matched side) are considerably more efficient than unbalanced tuners with the balun on the output, because baluns are only efficient when both ends are matched.

Some emergency groups are successfully experimenting with mobile antennas mounted horizontally. For example, pairs of 75 and 40 meter Hamsticks make excellent shortened, portable NVIS dipoles. The mobile antennas are mounted back-to-back and fed in the center just like a dipole. These are oriented horizontally and placed a couple feet above the roof of a vehicle on a short mast.

Other operators carry (1) an autocoupler, (2) a 125′ roll of wire, and (3) traffic cones or fiberglass stakes in the trunk, for rapid roadside NVIS deployment. NVIS antennas have been used as low as 18 inches high. Surprisingly, S9 signals have been received from an antenna mounted 10-1/2 inches high.

Near Vertical Incident Skywave (NVIS) antenna

Preparing for Portable NVIS Operation

Emergency communication groups should create and test an “NVIS kit” which contains a sturdy NVIS antenna, feedline, tuner, and sundry tools, hardware, and accessories. The radio should be a small, “all-band” rig like the Icom IC-706, powered by a deep-cycle battery. Hardware should include a 20-30 foot telescopic pole, #18 nylon line, stakes, throwing weights, hammer and nails, extra feedline and connectors, etc. Tools should include the usual electronics hand tools, including a small butane soldering torch and extra butane fuel. Accessories should include a folding table and chair, a rain tarp with it’s lines, and an ice chest with food and drink. Another piece of hardware worth having is the notebook computer, with appropriate software and cables, that may be used to provide radio teletype traffic. The station should also include a 2-meter transceiver and antenna, and a scanner.

The entire station may be packed in a medium-sized ice chest, using custom-cut foam rubber for the sensitive parts. The serious portable operator will also have a tent and various other camping equipment and supplies. Some clubs even purchase and equip a small travel trailer for this purpose. This is the best solution, since the trailer will contain all the needed equipment and supplies, at the ready, and will also provide a measure of security and protection from the elements.

Don’t have just one NVIS antenna. Have one at home (a dual-dipole, or multiband nonresonant, or a loop), and have another for fast portable deployment. The portable antenna and its feedline may be rolled up on an extension cord reel. You never know when you may be needed to quickly deploy a portable station. The goal should be to prepare to provide reliable regional tactical communications services without power mains, in the midst of large-scale emergency events. It’s also a good idea to have the radio “clipped” so that it may be operated outside the ham bands by emergency officials who are authorized to do so. The station will usually need to be located at the incident command post — however, it is very important to make prior arrangements with the authorities.

Tuners: The best tuner for barefoot NVIS is probably something like the MFJ 949E. It has a wide tuning range, internal balun with balanced output, three-position antenna switch, internal dummy load, and a large cross-needle meter. Of course, full power tuners must be used with linear amplifiers. Autocouplers by SGC and others work very well at the feedpoint, provided the impedance isn’t too low. The internal autotuners in most radios usually do not have sufficient range to match low antennas on 160. The 75/40 dual-dipole described above does not need a tuner, as the elements may easily be adjusted to resonance. If the SWR at resonance is still too high, raise the antenna a few feet, because the feedpoint radiation resistance is probably too low. Modeling over average ground shows a feedpoint resistance of 50 ohms at around 41 feet high. Short stubs with alligator clips may be clipped onto the elements at various places to provide multiple resonant points, and if bare wire is used for the antenna elements, these may be moved around to match the antenna (don’t burn your fingers).

Power Supplies: The portable station should use a deep-cycle marine battery and a portable generator. Small “camping” generators in the 900 to 1800-watt range, having both 13.8 VDC and 120 VAC outputs, are the most preferable. Connections to batteries should be made using ring lugs soldered to the wire, attached to the battery with stainless steel bolts, washers, and wing nuts. All connections should be greased. The battery should be connected to a power distribution box, of the type with several sets of 5-way binding posts.

{NVIS antenna article is Copyright © 2002, 2006 by Harold Melton, KV5R}

NVIS antenna


Commercial Antennas

Why use
commercial antennas for your SHTF needs? Availability. Price. Performance. There’s something to be said for
antennas that you can build yourself but then again there’s no reason to not use commercial antennas for survivalist needs.

Then there are times when you can find really good deals on commercial antennas that you just can’t pass up. Sometimes people are not pleased with an antenna and will just give it away, never realizing the antenna might have been assembled or installed improperly. Many times a so-called ‘poor antenna’ is the result of using poor feedline. We can’t stress enough how important the coax is to a communications system.

In this section of our web site we go into a few of the commercial antennas that a survivalist or prepper should at least take a look at for their communications needs. A note in advance, we aren’t ‘affiliates’ with these antenna companies nor do we receive anything from them to put their antenna on this web site.

Stealth antenna 02






Build Stealth Antennas

Build Stealth Antennas

Building stealth antennas to keep prying eyes from detecting your communications resources takes some skill and a lot of ingenuity. The skill part comes into play when it comes down to building antennas that will be sturdy and will perform optimally for the frequency/band desired. The ingenuity part of a stealth antenna comes about when it comes to hiding the antenna from nosy people with nothing better to do than to concern themselves with YOUR antenna. A lot of survivalists and others who want to hide their communications antennas think that mostly wire antennas are the type of antennas used the most and for the most part that’s fairly true. But that doesn’t mean that your HF/VHF/UHF beams and vertical antennas can’t be also hidden. In this picture to the right, you can see how easily a multi-element VHF beam was hidden in the average looking attic of this home. Admittedly it may not work as on receive or transmit as well as it would if it was mounted higher up on the outside Stealth Antenna 01of the home but it is thoroughly hidden away in the attic. Since this antenna is directional it has the characteristics of other beam antenna in that the transmit signal is higher in strength along with it having the ability to better receive signals that might otherwise be too weak to hear.

What Other Ways Can Be Used?

There are many but here are a a couple ideas to get your “idea factory” working on your own stealth antenna ideas.

This type of stealth antenna has been discussed elsewhere on this web site but it was decided that it should be included on this page. Can’t see the antenna yet? Just take a look at Old Glory wafting in the breeze and Stealth antenna 02you will see the antenna. Give up? It’s the flagpole! These flagpole vertical antennas are popping up all all over the place, especially where outside antennas are restricted or forbidden altogether. If you wish to erect any sort of flagpole antenna such as this one then you might want to be sure there aren’t restrictions on flagpoles in the area where you wish to erect it. Some homeowner associations have an even more restrictive policy towards communications by stating that no radio emissions are allowed. Of course this would not apply to shortwave listening but it is best to check first. The flagpole antennas are permanent as they require a concrete base under them and this might keep them from being used in some survivalist situations.

Stealth antenna 03

The owner of this home has built a loop antenna that literally circles his house and no one is the wiser. Take note of the coax exiting the attic vent and running over to the balun1 which is connected to the wire running around the eaves of the house. Wire loop antennas like this one are quite effect and stealthy as well. Along with this is the fact that loop antennas tend to be broadbanded and can readily used on more than one band.

Well, about the time you think you have seen it all there comes around something like the Stealth antenna 04antenna to the right of your screen. It is manufactured by Rohn Products and should hide any antennas systems contained within fairly well. Of course it will also tend to make people stop and point thereby drawing more attention to it than one might desire. Nevertheless, it shows what can be done to hide your antenna.

1 Balun: Derived from the terms “balanced” & “unbalanced”. It is an adapter that converts an unbalanced signal, eg 93 ohm coax to 100 ohm.

American Military Survival Radios

American Military Survival Radios

WikiPedia has an excellent article on a sometimes overlooked source of high quality communications equipment and antennas. These communications systems are designed and built for the ultimate in survival – the United States military. These military radios are readily available as surplus in various markets around the United States. The referenced article goes into some detail about the high costs of the military radios and yet these same radios can be found in military surplus stores for a mere fraction of the original costs.

Can military radios be used in a survivalist’s communications plan? Absolutely! While they may be oversized and or over weight they are generally available at prices far below that of other commercial radios such as ham radios.

Military radio gear has grown into quite a niche market which has enjoyed tremendous growth thanks to the Internet. Admittedly some of the gear is too large and/or too heavy to carry around in your communications bag. But the same gear might be attractive to those who have set up a base camp of sorts that there will evacuate to in times of stress and emergency.

One aspect of military radio gear that a survivalist should not ignore are the surplus military antennas that are available. A very good bargain can usually be found in the form of portable antenna masts. These aluminium antenna masts, and sometimes fiberglas antenna masts, are generally available in a kit form consisting of several length of antenna masts (usually 4=foot sections). Along with the antenna mast there is a reinforced carry bag for the mast and any accessories need to erect the mast on site.

By now you are asking yourself how a simple antenna mast could be if use in a survival environment. There are several scenarios here, each of them being used in different configurations.

Vertical Antenna

Attach a wire to the top of the mast, push or pull the mast into position, add ground and ground plane wires and you have a quite effect vertical antenna.

Antenna Support

Attach a small pulley to the top of the mast before erecting it and you can use it as a main support or outward support for any number of wire antennas.

Central Communications

You can use these masts to support VHF and UHF vertical antennas and even small beams. Lower on the mast you could utilize a small pulley attached to the mast to hold wire antennas such as dipoles, NVIS verticals, slopers, inverted L, and many other wire based antennas.

military radios

Tilt-N-Raise Portable Antenna Mounts

Tilt-N-Raise Portable Antenna Mounts

Antenna mounts are always an issue when running a portable radio set up. Elsewhere in this web site you read information about fixed base antennas, mobile antennas, portable antennas, and even stealth antennas. This product reviewed on this page is a new type of portable antenna mount that should prove to be quite popular with portable radio operators as well as survivalists.

The Tilt-N-Raise® portable antenna mount is not a mobile antenna mount. Although it does go in to the receiver hitch on the rear of your vehicle it is not meant to be used while the vehicle is moving. Survivalists will really enjoy rolling up to a camp hooking up the Tilt-N-Raise and getting your antenna up and operational in 5 minutes or less.

The antenna mount will take all the work out of getting a portable communications antenna up and running quickly and efficiently. Sure, you could make these yourself. But do you have the time and tools to do so? Besides, we are an affiliate site for the mount so we get to make $5 for each mounts sold through this web site. Helps pay for our server so thanks in advance.

Instead of going on and on about all the features of the Tilt-N-Raise® we invite you to look their web site over thoroughly. The link is provided below:

Tilt-H-Raise Portable Antenna Mount: www.tiltnraise.com

Tilt-N-Raise Portable Antenna Mounts


Antennas for 160 Meters

Antennas for 160 Meters

Antenna: 160 meters, Range: 1.8 to 2.0 MHz

Good 160 meters antennas are easy to build with nothing more than readily available materials. Since 160 meters covers the frequency range of 1.8 to 2.0 MHz you can use a few algebraic formulas to compute antenna sizes. One thing about 160 meters as a survivalist band, you won’t see many others there!

The use of 160 meters for survivalists is likely never to come about for several reasons. One reason is the size of antennas needed for the 160 meter band are rather large. On HF communications radio operators generally use antennas that are one quarter wavelength for the band they wish to use. On 160 meters a quarter-wave antenna is in the neighborhood of 130 feet. Shortened verticals and dipoles are used with some success and there are some hearty souls who have develop massive beam antennas for 160 meters such as the one shown below.

160 meter beam 01 160 meter beam 02


Of course these 160 meter beam antennas would not be practical for any type of survivalist communications.

Problem number two with 160 meters is that it is primarily a nighttime, wintertime band due to its propagation characteristics.