(Note: this is a reprint of a blog post I made August 21, 2013 on an older iteration of this site — I will be uploading additional photos to this post as I recover them)
I often tell visitors that my best antenna is actually my simplest: a 400 -foot beverage-on-ground (BOG) for listening on 160 and 80. It is constructed from leftover RG-213 that I no longer trusted under power. The only expense were the cores, and at $0.40/pc, it was hardly an expense.
I got this design from Low Band DX’ing by ON4UN, with a few modifications. His version was designed around a 50Ω element with 75Ω feedline. My design used a 50Ω element with 50Ω feedline, so I required an isolation transformer. Additionally, I used a series of radials at the far end (for the reflection transformer), but mostly because these radials already existed from a previous project.
The antenna has two feedlines, one for each direction. The feeds are standard 50Ω coax, and are just long enough to produce a choke. They then go to a relay box so I can switch directions. In the shack, the user interface looks like two sustain toggle switches, allowing the operator to listen NE or SW or both. EDIT: you can see me operating the control to diagnose some plasma TV noise on a later post
So how does it work?
It works well. It is certainly not a real beverage, but it definitely hears better than my 160 and 80 transmit antennas (sloper and linear-loaded tower, respectively). During the ARRL 160 and CQ 160 (ph & cw), I worked many stations that I could not have heard without this antenna. Contrary to popular belief, Europe isn’t so easily had from New England, even when conditions are good, and a listening antenna is often required.
The main benefit of this BOG is that it is a good “family” antenna. If you have a yard that you must share with your kids, dog, barbecue, etc., this is a good solution. When it is time to mow, I simply roll up the coax. Mine stays laid out the full year, but this would also be a great antenna for someone who could only use the yard during the winter. It will work better than your transmit antenna, and if it doesn’t — you just have some spare coax for your next project.
I’ve tried lengthening the element by 50 feet without any noticeable result. I’ve disconnected the ground at the near and far end with only negligible results, and I’ve played with the radials at the reflection transformer (also with negligible results). This is a compromise antenna, but it is somewhat impervious to these changes. It should also be noted that the ground in my area is very, very good.
In the future, I plan to lengthen the antenna even further (I think I can get another 100 feet in during the winter). I would also like to experiment with elevating the element by a few feet to observe any changes.