About Antenna Names

Antenna names come from many sources. Some are named for their shape, like the “inverted V” or rhombic. Some are named after their inventors, like Sterba, Bruce (though he would rather have had his name applied to a different antenna), and G5RV, or those who wrote about someone else’s invention, like Windom and Yagi. Those names have been in common usage for over 50 years, and they are well documented and referenced, and generally don’t cause a lot of confusion (although sometimes people may misunderstand what the inventor originally intended for the antenna). I have no problems using these well-documented names, and others that have withstood the test of time.

There are others where an author makes a trivial change to a standard antenna and gives it a new fancy name that doesn’t describe the antenna at all. That causes confusion if the name isn’t at all descriptive to readers, or if it reuses and existing name in a different way. In those cases, I prefer to use descriptive names, because they show the similarity between different antennas, rather than making them appear different.

A couple examples:

Hams have been using multiple dipoles for different bands on a common feedpoint for decades. Around 1990, someone decided that this should be called a “fan dipole”, because his particular arrangement had the elements in a fan shape. Due to articles on web sites, this became a common antenna name, even though most such antennas are built with parallel elements and aren’t fan-shaped at all. To add to the confusion, there is an older “fan antenna” that dates from at least the 1940s that deserves to be better known: it is capable of less than 3 : 1 SWR across the entire HF range. And the fan shape is an important part of the design.

So, being a curmudgeon, I use “fan dipole” to refer to the older antenna, and “multiple dipoles on a common feedpoint” for the other, because it is more descriptive. I want names to tell readers what an antenna is, and how it relates to similar antennas, rather than making unnecessary divisions due to different names.

A ham showed up on an online discussion board talking about the “H double-bay” antenna, and wondered why nobody else knew what he was talking about. It turns out that the name was used in one article somewhere, and others who had written about it simply called it a “double rectangle“, which was much more descriptive. True, there are several ways that a rectangle can be doubled, but at least it got readers started in the right direction. (And, it turns out that, while it can be an excellent antenna for low angle radiation, a single rectangle was often better, and easier to build. That is one reason why names that group similar antennas together are advantageous.)

So I will use descriptive names where possible, as well as those that have withstood the test of time (even if they have been reused by the unknowing). Hopefully that helps to make the designs easier to understand, and the relationships among them more clear.