Why I Don't Like Trap Antennas

Out there in the void where all signals go to be dissipated, lives a wizard. This wizard jealously guards a wonderful secret. The secret? The 'Infinity antenna©'. This antenna is exactly what its owner needs at any particular time. It's a perfect match on any frequency. Its lobes are aligned on any desired station. It doesn't hear noise or QRM. It opens the band when you are ready to listen and closes the band when you're QRT.

The wizard has not yet yielded the secret ...

The wizard has not yet yielded his secret, and we must deal with the real world of antennas. So, let me tell you why I choose or design antennas the way I do.

I want to get the absolute best performance possible from the space I have available for antennas. It doesn't matter if convenience has to be sacrificed.

To make a point, suppose I want a single antenna that works on most of the HF bands. I have several choices. First, I could choose a trap antenna. A good trap antenna will provide multiband coverage and usually don't require a transmatch. Unfortunately, their SWR curve is low over only a small portion of the band. This is especially true on 80 meters. In addition, a trap-dipole will perform no better than a dipole, because that is what it is. Because of the traps, most of the antenna is unused except on the lowest band. All that extra wire just hangs there.

On the other hand, I could choose a design that will operate efficiently over all of the HF bands. Not only can I have full HF coverage, but this antenna will give me some signal gain and a favorable radiation angle on most bands. Once in the air, I can conveniently match the transmitter to the antenna's feed system for maximum performance and do it right at the operating position. What antenna can do this?

There are many antenna designs and configurations that can give you all this and more. Some of them are featured in this catalog. Some of them are still on my drawing board. They have three characteristics in common: They are trapless; they use the antenna's entire length at all frequencies; and, they use a transmatch to transfer maximum energy (signal) from the transmitter to the antenna system.

A transmatch means that you have extra knobs to adjust, but I believe that antenna gain, low radiation angles, and all band coverage are an easy trade for the slight inconvenience the transmatch imposes. A big signal on the air more than compensates for the few seconds it takes to adjust the transmatch.

Full HF coverage, gain ...

We already see it coming. On the telephone and at hamfests, we are asked "when are you coming out with something special for 80 and 40 meters?" You can count on us. We will be bringing out some big performers on 80 and 40. The VRD system is the first of the new breed. The SuperLoop is still as good a choice as it ever was. And, the CAROLINA WINDOM - what else needs to be said? The antenna is sold predominately by word of mouth. When someone hears it on the air and then buys one for their station, that antenna has to be something special. Any of these antenna systems are excellent candidates for "king-of-night-time DX."

This article first appeared in my 1989 catalog. I still prefer transmatch fed antennas. Now we are on the down-side of a sunspot cycle. With 10 meters disappearing fast, 15 meters will be close behind. If the bottom of this sunspot cycle is anything like the last one, 20 meters will be closed early in the evening. The low bands, 160, 80, 40 and perhaps 30 meters will become 'kings-of-the-night.''


How the times have changed since 1989 when I wrote this article for the RADIO WORKS' General Catalog. Of course, we've now experienced the decline and bottom of the sunspot cycle and we are on the way back up. We await the return of 10, 15 and 20 meters to their full glory. One thing which has remained constant over all these years is the CAROLINA WINDOM and the SuperLoop. These antennas have been the champions of the bands. through both the sunspot lows and highs. There are thousands in use and the testimonials have arrived by the hundreds. They have been on DXpeditions, served the needs of DXers all over the world, and proved themselves as the antenna of choice for net stations and rag-chewers alike. We have improved the CAROLINA WINDOM and the SuperLoop over the years and they are poised to be the best, low cost, high performance antenna for coming sunspot arrivals. More than ever, the CAROLINA WINDOM and the SuperLoop are the best choice you can make in antennas short of spending thousands on a tower and beam. Even then, some users who have both beams and our antennas claim it's often a toss-up. And yes, I still don't like trap antenna!