It’s been repeated again and again by speakers at club meetings: the only bad antenna is no antenna!
For all of the griping and hand wringing by members about how the band conditions are bad, and they are waiting to get a “perfect antenna” to get on the air, it turns out that yes—you can do DX on a horrible, horrible antenna, even on low power (QRP). How do I know this?
How about the Dominican Republic on 6 watts and two hiking sticks (on upper sideband)?
On September 21st, I happened to be on Santa Cruz Island (IOTA NA-144), part of the Channel Islands National Parks, and I decided to try to make a few contacts just for fun.
So, due to a dearth of trees available on the beach, I strapped together two hiking poles and attached them to a “Do Not Disturb Marine Mammal” sign, using them to hold up an end-fed wire that was approximately 26 feet long (and mostly just lying on the beach!). I didn’t expect much, but amazingly, made contact with HI8RD in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic (a mere 3,200 miles)–on upper sideband, not CW–using a battery powered Yaesu FT-818ND, running 6 watts. That’s 533.3 miles/watt. The contact was made on 17 meters – a great DX band.
To be fair, operating on the beach is a great place for any amateur radio – the ocean is a giant ground plane, and the salt water under the beach probably helped the antenna operate even though it was laying on the ground, and the propagation conditions were good– but it’s a demonstration of what you can do if you just get on the air.
So, even if you have a lousy antenna and no permanent place to put it – put one up anyway and give it a try, you might just get lucky!