(Compiled from inquiries made to the TopBand Reflector and private communications)
Two Wire Beverages
Using Ladder Line for the Beverage Wire
Adding Surge Suppression to a Beverage
Supporting the Beverage Wire
Minimizing Common Mode Feedline Noise
Beverage Coax Grounding
Two Wire Beverages:
I use 2 wire beverages with good success. Mine are 580', 12" spacing, and
average about 8' or 9' off the ground.I always wound my own transformers.
This year, I tried the K1FZ matching and termination transformers. I don't
know why, but they perform much better than my own units. I would advise
using a termination transformer on the distant end. . . it will help you get
The spacing is not real critical. If it varies somewhat, it's no big deal.
Good luck and 73. . . Dave W0FLS
>1)Use an end termination transformer (wind my own) or just ground/float the
I recommend the termination transformer because you will get better F/B if
it's done correctly. Simply grounding one wire will work but not as well.
>2)Okay to let the spacing vary a bit (6 - 12 inches) with the tree trunk
Yes, some variation is OK but try to keep the variation gradual over
distance. Sharp changes create impedance "bumps" which are not so good.
>And any other comments/advice would also be warmly received ;-)
Be sure that the unused feed is always terminated (dummy resistor, etc.).
The power in that feed has to be dumped somewhere or else it ends up going
back down the Beverage and into the other feed as an unwanted signal.
Also, it's a good idea to measure the SWR with an antenna analyzer (MFJ259
or whatever) and trim the impedance matching transformers for lowest SWR.
73, John W1FV
> 1)Use an end termination transformer (wind my own) or just ground/float
> the far end?
By all means, use the reflection transformer! Establish a good ground at
both ends with ground rods or equivilent. I like 1-inch copper pipe, since
every copper-plated ground rod I've ever installed has rusted through the
ccopper in short order. You can wind your own transformer: it's a simple
> 2)Okay to let the spacing vary a bit (6 - 12 inches) with the tree trunk
> diameters?Yes, but try to keep the run in a straight line.
If you are going to use
trees to support the wire, consider nailing or screwing crosspieces
made from 2x2 lumber (15-18-inches wide) at constant heights
from the round, and with notches at the top to retain the wire.
You can space them 12" - 15" for 160, and the wire can be pulled
tight when resting unrestrained in the notches.
We've never used trees as supports: we fabricate "Beverage Poles"
out of 2x2 poles, with a 15-inch crospiece at the top (with notches).
I use an auger bit to dig 2-inch holes 18-inches deep in the yard, and
support the poles in these holes. My Bevs come down in the Spring, and
when we were doing the W8LT 160M Contest efforts, we had a large open
field to navigate for our long Bevs: no trees to use!
73, Jeff Maass
Buy a 1/4 mile roll of 17 Gauge Aluminum Fence wire from your farm supply store.
This wire has extremely low weight per length and can be stretched very tightly.
I suspect it would need only 2 intermediate supports between the ends (i.e about
200' per span). Build 2 supports with the desired wire spacing and perhaps one
intermediate spacer for each span (i.e. 3 total). I don't have the formula in
front of me but I guess 3-4" spacing would be in the ballpark for 17 Gauge wire
to be around 4-500 ohms. You can connect Cu to Al wire easiest if you use twist
electrical connectors with a dab of Noalox inside each. I would slope each end
of the wires down to a stake and stretch it as tightly as I could. This should
allow you to need only 2 intermediate supports with very low sag. One set of
spacers between supports would then make 100' spans without any physical spacers,
but if you stretch the wire very tightly I suspect there would be little variation,
even in a brisk wind.
Hopefully someone will calculate the exact spacing for #17 wire to yield 400-500 ohms,
but I'm guessing 3-4" should be fairly close. The key to all of the above is stretching
the wire VERY TIGHTLY!
73, Bill W4ZV
Using Ladder Line for the Beverage Wire:
I've heard it mentioned a couple of times by guys on the reflector and ON4UN
briefly alludes to constructing a 2 wire Beverage using 450 ohm transmission
line (pp 7-22 and 7-23 of his book). I thought this might make installation
a lot easier if I could scrounge up the wire. If there is a technical down
side to using such closely spaced conductors, I'd appreciate hearing from
any knowledgable folks.
Ladder line works fine. The only disadvantages are
cost and wind loading. However, two parallel number sixteen copperweld wires
cost about 5 cents per foot of antenna. Now figure out how you would make
spacers, and how long it would take to install the antenna using each system!
You could also use 300 TV twinlead.
I've used 450 ohm line for all my two wire Beverages since the early 70's.
For me, the extra cost is offset by the ease of construction. There are no
electrical disadvantages when using close spaced wires, other than some
slight deterioration of termination in wet weather with plastic "ladder line".
As a matter of fact, I don't believe there are any real advantages to using
modest or wide spaced conductors in two-wire Beverages. As a general rule,
the closer and more evenly the wires are spaced the better the antenna behaves.
That's because it is easier to keep the standing waves off the line, making
termination better over a wider frequency range. Think of the wire as serving
two functions, as an antenna with the wires tied in parallel and as a
transmission line to reach the far end. Anyone who understands transmission
lines would never use a very long, wide-spaced, line (more than a few thousandths
of a wavelength spacing) because they know it would be a very poor transmission
line. The longer the line the more critical the spacing is.
73, Tom W8JI
I wrote an article in the early 80's describing how to use coax, twin
lead, or any other transmission line to make a Reflection Beverage. I
had a similar article in Communications Quarterly. The point of both
was you could use almost any transmission line if impedances of
transformers were adjusted. Certainly that would apply to coax,
although you would have to be careful about voltage distribution at
I have used 300 ohm twinlead and 450 ohm ladder line with equally
good results, and coax wouldn't be a problem either.
On 160 meters (or anywhere below UHF) virtually all transmission line
losses are related only to conductor resistance...not the dielectric.
Keeping that in mind, any thin small conductor could be both
electrical and mechanical problems.
73, Tom W8JI
Since a beverage antenna is carrying no current, ohmic losses aren't really a factor.
You could use #30 wire if you could ever get it to stay up! Anyway, 18 gauge should
be fine. However, if it's soft copper it will stretch and may break under weight
of ice and snow (particularly when combined with wind). Copperweld would be a much
better choice (mechanically speaking). I use #18 military surplus telephone wire
(steel) which I buy in one mile spools from Fair Radio Sales of Lima, Ohio.
It's made to be stretched and really holds up well to the Iowa winters. It comes
as a pair of wires so I have to pull them apart which is kind of a pain. . . but
it's good wire and the price is right.
73. . . Dave W0FLS
I am using two wire bevs made from 450 ohm PVC covered ladder line. Here's what
I know about it:
1) It is convenient to run out - more so than with normal two
runs of say #`14 THHN stranded at say 2-3 foot spacing.
2) I am told it is SLIGHTLY less efficient than a two wire at 2-3 foot spacing
3) It's use requires
a feedpoint matching xfmr with its output impedance made for 450 ohm ladder
line RATHER than the 600-800 required for the two #14 wire variety.
4) Similarly, the reflection xfmr required at the far end must also be customized
for 450 ohms as well. I have two such bevs made from 450 ohm ladder line I purchased
at RADIOWARE (Craig Clark at 1 800 950-WARE) The CUSTOM feedpoint and REFLECTION
xfmrs I had made for me by Clark Electronics (K1FZ). These cost $129 and $99
respectively - you can reach Bruce K1FZ at email@example.com or www.qsl.net/k1fz/
Good luck 73 JEFF
I have 4 beverages constructed with the 450 ohm ladder line, and they work
just fine. I have also made one out of RG-58 coax, which also works just
fine. Remember, on a single wire beverage, that there are two signals
present at all times. One from the front direction, and the other from the
rear. You could run a coax feed to both ends, and have a bi-directional
antenna, just by hooking one or the other to your transceiver.
or you could use 450 ohm ladder line to send the far end signal to the near
end. Thus, between either conductor of the 450 ohm ladder line to ground,
you have one signal, and between the two conductors, is the other signal.
This allows you have both near and far signals at one end, at the same time.
Proper transformers (2) at the near end and a single 1:1 transformer at the
far end should do the trick. I have several twists in the ladder line, every
few feet, as this makes it less susepticle to the wind. The two wire beverage
has two modes, first the antennas mode (same as a single wire beverage, both
wires have front and back signals present), and secondly, the transmission
line mode (the two wires in the ladder line carry the far end signal to the
near end). Any trnasmission line can be used for a beverage, 50 ohm coax,
90 ohm coax, 300 ohm TV twin-lead, 450 ohm ladder line, 600 ohm ladder line,
or a pair of open wires of any spacing. The only difference is the matching
Hope I have helped you understand what I am trying to get across.
73 & DX, Dick - N6FF
>In my limited understanding of
>terminating the far end - I though a transformer was necessary when the
>characteristic antenna impedance differed from 450 ohms. ]
A transformer is ALWAYS necessary.
>ON4UN gives the impedance of a 2m high ladder line Beverage at 424
>and 449 ohms respectively using 450 and 300 ohm ladder line
>Wouldn't it then be possible to dispense with the
> transformer at the far end and use a simple open/short circuit termination?
Nope, won;t work for crap. That ground one wire idea makes no electrical sense at all.
73, Tom W8JI
A procedure I use for "tweaking" the reflection transformer is to adjust the turns
ratio until the SWR in the reverse direction at the receiver end is flattest.
By flattest I mean that SWR exhibits the smallest variations up and down over a wide
range of frequencies, and not necessarily the lowest SWR. With an antenna analyzer
like the AEA or MFJ, sweep the frequency from 1.8 to as high as 10 MHz and look for
the SWR to change the least over this entire range, not just inside the amateur bands.
This procedure usually gets you very close to the optimum. 73, John W1FV
I've been involved in re-doing the low band antennas at KC1XX the last few months in
preparation for the upcoming contest season. I helped install four 2-wire Beverages
which use the K1FZ KB-2 feed box. The 160, 80, and 40 meter stations will be using the
Beverages. I have to agree the performance and construction quality of Bruce's boxes
are excellent. Also, Bruce has been very good about providing "tech support" for his
products. For those of you doing 2-wire Beverages, he also now has a reflection
transformer product, the KB-3. In general reflection transformers will give you much
better F/B than simply tying one of the wires directly to ground, which is what most
people do. At KC1XX we saw a big improvement in performance when we changed over to
reflection transformer terminations (our own homebrew units) for all the Beverages.
BTW, I have no commercial interest or affiliation with K1FZ.
73, John W1FV
I've installed a pair of two wire Beverages using 450 ohm 18AWG copper-clad ladder
line and they work fine. However, significant improvements have been made over the
last 3 years as a result of changes to the reflection and matching transformers.
The first transfomers followed the designs I found in several of the popular
books. The new transformer followed the design presented by W8JI in
Communications Quarterly, Spring 1997. Signal level, f/b ratio and SWR
all improved. More information on the transformers I wound can be found here.
Trees are my Beverage supports. I hammer in a galvanized staple nail about 8ft high
and hang a two inch plastic loop from the nail using a tie wrap. I just run the
Ladder Line through the tie wraps. The Ladder Line can move freely and if a branch
comes down on the Beverage, the tie wrap will break off quickly and is easily repaired.
I use a homebrew tensioner (see below) at each end to keep tension on the ladder line.
The tensioner sandwiches the ladder line between two 1/4 inch (6mm) thick flat pieces
of stiff resin material. The tensioner is secured to galvanized staple nail with a
long tie wrap that can be progressively tightened with one hand while the other tugs
on the ladder line.
Ladder Line tensioner at N1EU
Adding Surge Suppression to a Beverage:
I would appreciate any suggestions on adding surge suppression to the
terminating end of a single wire Beverage. I have a small 12vdc relay powered
down the wire that I use to switch between uni/bi-directional, and routinely
blow its coil. I've also seen my multi-watt carbon terminating resistors vaporize.
CONSIDER PUTTING A BLOCKING DIODE IN PARALLEL WITH THE COIL TO SHORT THE BACK
EMF WHEN DE-ENERGIZED. THE DIODE CAN BE ANYTHING FROM A 1N4001 TO A 1N4005, THE HIGHER THE
PIV, THE BETTER
CONSIDER ADDING A NEON BULB, SOMETHING LIKE A NE-2, FROM THE ANTENNA SIDE OF
THE TERMINATING RESISTOR, TO GROUND. WHEN EXCESSIVE VOLTAGE APPEARS, IT WILL
CAUSE THE NEON BULB TO FIRE, AND HOPEFULLY SAVE THE TERMINATING RESISTOR.
I THINK THE NEON BULB WILL ALSO SAVE YOUR RESISTOR, AS IT SHOULD FIRE WELL
BELOW THE RATING OF THE RESISTOR. A 450 OHM RESISTOR, 2 WATTS, SHOULD HANDLE
ABOUT 60 MA. AND IT WILL TAKE ABOUT 30 VOLTS TO DEVELOP THAT MAGNITUDE OF
CURRENT. PICK A NEON THAT WILL FIRE (CONDUCT) AT SOMETHING LESS THAN THIS
VOLTAGE, AND YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO SHUNT THE DESTRUCTIVE CURRENT TO GROUND
BEFORE IT EXCEEDS THE RATING OF THE RESISTOR. AN MOV AT LESS THAN 30V SHOULD
DO THE SAME THING.
if you use back to back series-connected
zeners across the relay coil, that would work better I think and
offer more protection, with less likelyhood of burning out the
I used to have the problem of "evaporating" matching transformers and
resistors. About 5 years ago, I addopted a very simple cure for this, and
so far, no more "evaporating" parts due to lightning surges. My matching
and termination components are contained in small plastic weather proof
boxes, and I simply bypass the antenna side of the transformer or resistor
to the ground side through a spark gap. The spark gap consists of heavy
solid wires - about 10 AWG, soldered to teardrop terminals that are placed
under the screws going to the antenna and ground. The ends of the wires are
cut with "side cutters" leaving a nice "knife edge", and I position the two
edges very close to each other. A piece of paper makes a nice "feeler gage"
for this purpose. It is very effective, most simple, and negligible cost.
You might bypass the relay coil with a .1 uF 50 volt capacitor in
parallel with a low voltage MOV. Choke each of the leads leaving
the coil with a single layer choke of about 100 uH. Be sure you tie
one terminal of the coil directly to the relays metal frame or pole-
piece if you can.
Are the resistors "real" carbon composition resistors or are they
carbon film? Virtually all carbon resistors are now carbon film,
which have very poor immunity to surges.
Metal or carbon film resistors will fail constantly no matter what
wattage you use. Also, be sure to use close spaced spark-gaps at
the antenna ends! I just use a post-type insulator nailed to a tree or
post. I loop the wire around two ribs, and then secure it. I form a gap
from loose wire ends.
While Ohmite's OY series of ceramic composition resistors ("ideal for
circuitry associated with surges, high peak power or high energy") have
done a good job for me by themselves, my recent installation of a new
4,320 foot long Beverage (more so for lower frequencies) made me to
decide to add some more protection. I added Taiwan Semiconductor's
SRYH-90L gas tube surge voltage protectors (the $1.85 CATV models
"with high current capability") across the resistors. Both have survived
recent day's super wind static generator--60+ mph winds with sub 0º F
Supporting the Beverage Wire
I use 5/8 rebar eight feet long driven into the ground about 4 feet and slip
an eight foot piece of thick wall plastic pipe over it. I put a hole about a
half inch from the top of the plastic and saw a slot that I slip the wire
through. Results: supports wire but allows the wire to slip back and forth.
Has lasted Chicago winters fine.
Minimizing Common Mode Feedline Noise
I recommend is adding a series common mode choke using a very high ui
material, making the choke more like a large resistor than an inductor. I
add a ground rod at ONE end of the choke, to provide a shunt impedance.
To wind an effective choke it takes big hi-mu torroid cores, stacked, and lots
of coax. Using 2 or 3 stacked 2" cores, I wind them up with RG174 until they are
full. Put an appropriate coax fitting on each end of the cable for I/O.The
target is about 17 mH of inductance between the input and output terminals ( as
low as 10 still works ). For 75 ohm feeds it is desirable to use 75 Ohm cable,
but the only '174 size available in 75 Ohms is Teflon type and VERY expensive.
In practice I use 50 Ohm RG 174 for everything, and a 3,000 foot roll lasts
forever. By raising the series reactance to the common mode, it looks like a
stone wall to any current flowing on the shield and center conductor
simultaneously. From the standpoint of the desired signal, it looks just like an
additional length of coax. On low frequencies the additional loss is negligible.
Beverage Coax Grounding
First make sure you're using an isolated transformer with separate grounds for input
(Beverage) and output (coax). Ground the Beverage but leave the coax floating and
ground it at your shack. If you're paranoid, you can also make a feedline choke at
the Beverage (14 turns of mini-coax like RG-176 around a mix 31 toroid should work).
Good advice signal-wise, however, if the feedline is long and you happen
to have a lot of lightning, you will probably find that close strikes
cause the transformer to arc-over, destroying the transformer and other
things, because the far end of the coax line is floating (even though
the coax line is buried).
Notice there are two possible sources of the problem, induced currents
on the cable, and ground surge where lightning may hit a tower elevating
the ground around the tower while the ground at the receiving antenna is
still low. Because the shack ground is also elevated in potential, and
all these cables get tied together there, currents flow down the coax to
the receiving antenna. If it is floating there can be a huge voltage
impressed between the coax and the ground at the far end.
There are a few different ways to fix that. Some people just ground the
coax line at the far end and use a VERY good choke. I don't like that
one but it will work if the choke is very good. Another way is to put a
very low voltage (85V) gas tube between the coax shield and the ground
rod. Another way is to add a ground rod just for the coax line. That
is my preference because it helps dump common mode currents, as well as
helps with lightning protection.
What I do is to sink a single 1m 25mm copper pipe at each end. Connect Bev wire at
far end and measure resistance between near end of wire and earth. Must use high
voltage R measurement, eg 12V, or electrolytic effects distort the measurement.
Then assume resistance at each end is half of that value. Subtract the result from
500 ohm , and use that as the termination. Then add more ground rods at near end.
After doing that, I swept mine with my VNA, and the result was between 460 and 500
ohm over nearly an octave, so I think the method is reasonable. I made up a N2PK VNA
about 3-4 years ago. They work really well for all sorts of things.
The gold-standard Globar is still out there -- but it is called the
"gold-standard" for a reason ($$$). But when you invest all of the
time and money into a Beverage there are lots of reasons why it pays
to spend a few bucks for a decent termination.
I used to parallel around ten 2W carbon composition resistors and
would still lose them to nearby lightning strikes. When I went to
Globars I no longer had the problem.
To better weatherproof them I would dip them into Plasti-Dip whcih
would keep them out of the direct sun for a number of years. Black
Plasti-Dip spray is available from Lowes, but I would buy a gallon
can of it for dipping all kinds of things that ended up outdoors and
Many have been using Ohmite OY series ceramic composition
resistors. K0HA first made a post about these in January 1999. Now
Array Solutions, DX Engineering and possibly others are using them
because of their high surge capacity. I've had many 2W carbon comp
resistors disintegrate due to induced lightning surges but I've never
had that happen with the OY series.
Array Solutions now offers a 10W version made by a combination of OY resistors.
Newark has the 2W OY series available for $1.15 each. The 470 ohm
version is shown below: