Quadrifilar Helix Antennas
The purpose of this page is to provide information
and links about
Quadrifilar Helix Antennas. There are a few links at the foot of the page - if
you want me add yours please email the details.
What is a Quadrifilar Helix Antenna (QHA) ?
Simply - It's the best antenna to use for APT satellite reception - the
featured antenna is depicted on the left.
To paraphrase M. Walter Maxwell
"It comprises two bifilar helical loops oriented in mutual orthogonal
relationship on a common axis. The terminals of each loop are fed in antiphase
and the currents in the two loops are in phase
quadrature. By selecting the
appropriate configuration of the loops, a wide range of pattern shapes is
available". The basic form of resonant QHA was developed by Dr. C. C. Kilgus of the
Applied Physics Laboratory, John-Hopkins University, Silver Spring, Md. and
published in December 1970 in "The Microwave Journal". Since then a lot of research has been done into the number of turns and
length/diameter ratios. All of these affect the radiation pattern. The "traditional" fractional turn design produces a cardioid radiation
has been found that tall narrow QHA exhibit a "shaped-conical" pattern with high
gains to the horizon and decreased gain overhead, which is much better suited to
APT ground stations (See polar diagram examples). Most of the published data and
designs on narrow antennas however have been more suited to UHF and do not
translate well to 137.5Mhz. One of the best is a narrow 5 turn, but at the
frequencies we are interested in would make an antenna 7 metres high!
1/2 turn design
A tall narrow
This design came about in the search for better gain at the horizon and yet
still make construction easy. After a lot of discussion, experimenting and some
frantic NEC modeling came up with the dimensions for this one.
As you can see from the polar diagram above, this model exhibits a good
compromise between the two previous examples. The +dB figures give the direction
of highest gain, the - figures the direction of greatest loss.
For more information on NEC and where to get it look at my NEC page.
John and myself have both built this one and find it has excellent reception
properties. Its quite easy to get full horizon to horizon passes!
Try it - you'll not be disappointed!
Construction notes and dimensions
The finished model should look like the one labeled "Tall narrow
QHA" at the top of this page.
- Mast - 1.5m of 32mm (1 1/4") PVC waste pipe.
- Elements - 8mm (3/8") mini-bore soft copper tube - 8 copper elbows for the
- 2 - 190mm lengths - bottom horizontal tubes
- 2 - 903mm lengths - short helix elements
- 2 - 1002mm lengths - long helix elements
- 4 - 90mm lengths - top horizontal elements
Note - these are cutting dimensions and assume that 90 degree elbows NOT
bends are used - The dimensions on the drawing are from centre to centre of the
respective elements - you may have to adjust your cutting sizes accordingly.
- 4 self-tapping screws for feed.
- Suitable length of RG58 or UR43 for balun and feed.
- 32mm cap to plug top end of mast.
Drill 4 - 8mm holes at 90 degrees to each other 25mm from the end of the mast
- make sure the holes are Square and in the same plane!
Mark and drill the bottom holes remembering they are in opposing pairs spaced
100mm apart - you're advised to check the measurements at least twice before
Drill a 7mm hole near the top of the mast for the cable entry.
Drill pilot holes in the 4 top elements for
self-tapping screws and assemble
top tubes, push coax through hole and make top connections with screws. Wrap the
coax 4 times around the mast and tape/glue in position (balun).
Push the elbows onto the top tubes and measure from the centre of each leg -
it should be 200mm, NB -you may have to cut more off if you used swept bends
rather than tight 90 degree elbows.
Assemble bottom tubes, make sure they are central and square to top tubes.
Bend helixes to suit - tip - try and find a former of some
type; a suitable
log or large pipe makes the bends nice and neat.
When your happy with the shape solder up the
elbows. It should appear
circular when viewed from the end.
Check the connections and cap the top end of the pipe.
The copper tubes can be fixed to the mast using
glue/silicon sealer and/or
tape - make sure you seal the coax entry hole.
Push a suitable piece of wood up the bottom end to avoid crushing the PVC
tube too much when clamping to the mast.
I hope you'll give it a try - it really is worth the effort.
Click here to download the
construction notes and illustrations.
NEW - 2Mtr version!
- Due to many requests here are the dimensions for a 144-146Mhz version
- Diameter both loops 188mm
- Long loop height 950mm, helix length 961mm
- Short loop height 850mm, helix length 863mm
- It doesn't scale very well for 435Mhz - but I'm working on it!
- If you have any comments about this page or questions about QHA antennas
please email me.
- RIG The Remote Imaging Group -
it's a group of enthusiasts interested in receiving pictures from weather
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