The Beverage antenna is a long wire receiving antenna mainly used in the low frequency and medium frequency radio bands, invented by Harold H. Beverage in 1921. It is used by amateur radio, shortwave listening, and longwave radio DXers and military applications.
A Beverage antenna consists of a horizontal wire from one-half to two wavelengths long (hundreds of feet at HF to several kilometres for longwave) suspended above the ground, with the feedline to the receiver attached to one end and the other terminated through a resistor to ground. The antenna has a unidirectional radiation pattern with the main lobe off the resistor-terminated end, so that end is pointed at the transmitter region. Some Beverage antennas use a two-wire design that allows reception in two directions from a single Beverage antenna. Other designs use sloped ends where the center of the antenna is six to eight feet high and both ends of the antenna gradually slope downwards towards the termination resistor and matching transformer.
The advantages of the Beverage are excellent directivity, and wider bandwidth than resonant antennas. It's disadvantages are its physical size, requiring considerable land area, and inability to rotate to change the direction of reception. Installations often use multiple antennas to provide wide azimuth coverage.
Harold H. Beverage experimented with receiving antennas similar to the Beverage antenna in 1919 at the Otter Cliffs Radio Station. He discovered in 1920 that an otherwise nearly bidirectional long wire antenna becomes uni-directional by placing it close to the lossy earth and by terminating one end of the wire with a resistor. By 1921, Beverage long wave receiving antennas up to nine miles (14 km) long had been installed at RCA's Riverhead, New York, Belfast, Maine, Belmar, New Jersey, and Chatham, Massachusetts receiver stations for transatlantic radiotelegraphy traffic. The antenna was patented in 1921 and named for its inventor Harold H. Beverage. Perhaps the largest Beverage antenna—an array of four phased Beverages three miles (5 km) long and two miles (3 km) wide—was built by AT&T in Houlton, Maine for the first transatlantic telephone system opened in 1927.
The Beverage antenna consists of a horizontal wire one-half to several wavelengths long, suspended close to the ground, usually 10 to 20 feet high, pointed in the direction of the signal source. At the end toward the signal source it is terminated by a resistor to ground approximately equal in value to the characteristic impedance of the antenna considered as a transmission line, usually 400 to 800 ohms. At the other end it is connected to the receiver through a transmission line.
How it works
Unlike other wire antennas such as dipole or monopole antennas which act as resonators, with the radio currents traveling in both directions along the element, bouncing back and forth between the ends as standing waves, the Beverage antenna is a traveling wave antenna; the radio frequency current travels in one direction along the wire, in the same direction as the radio waves. The lack of resonance gives it a wider bandwidth than resonant antennas. It receives vertically polarized radio waves, but unlike other vertically polarized antennas it is suspended close to the ground, and requires some resistance in the ground to work.
The Beverage antenna relies on "wave tilt" for its operation. At low and medium frequencies, a vertically polarized radio frequency electromagnetic wave traveling close to the surface of the earth with finite ground conductivity sustains a loss that causes the wavefront to "tilt over", producing an electric field component parallel to the Earth's surface. If a horizontal wire is suspended close to the Earth and approximately at a right angle to the wave front, the electric field generates an oscillating RF current wave traveling along the wire, propagating in the same direction as the wavefront. The RF currents traveling along the wire add in phase and amplitude throughout the length of the wire, producing maximum signal strength at the far end of the antenna where the receiver is connected.
The antenna wire and the ground under it together can be thought of as a "leaky" transmission line which absorbs energy from the radio waves. The velocity of the current waves in the antenna is less than the speed of light due to the ground. The velocity of the wavefront along the wire is also less than the speed of light due to its angle. At a certain angle θ the two velocities are equal. At this angle the gain of the antenna is maximum, so the radiation pattern has a main lobe at this angle.
The antenna has a unidirectional reception pattern, because RF signals arriving from the other direction, from the receiver end of the wire, induce currents propagating toward the terminated end, where they are absorbed by the terminating resistor.
The antenna is particularly suited to receive radio waves reflected off the ionosphere, called skywave or "skip" propagation, which is used for long-distance communication at shortwave frequencies. The radio waves typically arrive at the Earth's surface with shallow angles (wave tilt) of approximately 5 to 45 degrees, which is a good match to the antenna's direction of maximum gain (main lobe).
While Beverage antennas have excellent directivity, because they are close to lossy earth they do not produce absolute gain (typically -20 to -10 dBi). This is rarely a problem, because the antenna is used at frequencies where there are high levels of atmospheric radio noise. The antenna has a high radiation resistance (200 to 500 ohms) and is rarely utilized for transmitting. The Beverage antenna is a popular receiving antenna because it offers excellent directivity over a broad bandwidth, albeit with relatively large size.
Directivity is a function of the length of the antenna. While directivity begins to develop at a length of only 0.25 wavelength, directivity becomes more significant at one wavelength and improves steadily until the antenna length reaches a length of about two wavelengths. It's generally accepted among Beverage antenna experts that directivity no longer improves when the antenna is longer than two wavelengths. Beverages longer than two wavelengths suffer from the phase incoherency of the incoming waves over distances of several wavelengths, resulting in phase incoherency of the currents induced in the antenna that degrades the directivity of the antenna.
The Beverage antenna is most frequently deployed as a single wire. A dual wire variant is sometimes utilized for rearward null steering or for bidirectional switching. The antenna can also be implemented as an array of two to 128 or more elements in broadside, endfire, and staggered configurations offering significantly improved directivity otherwise very difficult to attain at these frequencies. A four element broadside/staggered Beverage array was used by AT&T at their longwave telephone receiver site in Houlton, Maine. Very large phased Beverage arrays of 64 elements or more have been implemented for receiving antennas for Over-the-horizon radar systems.
A single wire Beverage antenna is typically a single straight copper wire, between one and two wavelengths long, running parallel to the Earth's surface in the direction of the desired signal. The wire is suspended by insulated supports above the ground. A non-inductive resistor approximately equal to the characteristic impedance of the wire, about 400 to 600 ohms, is connected from the far end of the wire to a ground rod. The other end of the wire is connected to the feedline to the receiver.
The driving impedance of the antenna is equal to the characteristic impedance of the wire with respect to ground, somewhere between 400 to 800 ohms, depending on the height of the wire. Typically a length of 50 ohm or 75 ohm coaxial cable would be used for connecting the receiver to the antenna endpoint. A matching transformer should be inserted between any such low-impedance transmission line and the higher 470 ohm impedance of the antenna. A transformer with a turns-ratio of 3:1 would provide an impedance transformation of 9:1 which will match the antenna to a 50 ohm transmission line. A transformer with a turns-ratio of 5:2 would provide an impedance transformation of 6.25:1 which will match the antenna to a 75 ohm transmission line. Alternatively, a parallel wire transmission line (Twin lead) of 600 ohms makes a fairly good match to the antenna.
- U.S. Patent 1,381,089 Jun 7, 1921 Radio Receiving System - the Beverage antenna
- U.S. Patent 1,434,984 Nov 7, 1922 Radio Receiving System - the bidirectional Beverage antenna
- U.S. Patent 1,434,985 Nov 7, 1922 Radio Receiving System - using a Beverage antenna with multiple receivers
- U.S. Patent 1,434,986 Nov 7, 1922 Radio Receiving System - a Beverage antenna with selective circuits to eliminate interference from adjacent wavelengths
- U.S. Patent 1,487,308 Mar 18, 1924 Radio Receiving System - improvements to the directivity of the Beverage Antenna
- U.S. Patent 1,556,122 Oct 6, 1925 Radio Receiving System - improvements to the directivity of the Beverage Antenna
- U.S. Patent 1,658,740 Feb 7, 1928 Radio Receiving System - broadside phasing of two of more Beverage antennas for improved directivity
- U.S. Patent 1,768,239 Reducing interference received through a sidelobe of a Beverage antenna
- U.S. Patent 1,816,614 Wave Antenna - improvements to the directivity of the Beverage Antenna
- U.S. Patent 1,821,402 Staggered Beverage antennas and phased staggered Beverage antennas
Antenna Theory and Design By Warren L. Stutzman, Gary A. Thiele, John Wiley & Sons, May 22, 2012
- End of an Era: NSGA Winter Harbor to Close Its Doors
- Radio NBD, Otter Cliffs, Maine (circa 1917-1919) - from Les Smallwood, CTRCS, USN Retired
- AA3PX Antenna design page
- AMANDX antenna page
- W8JI Beverage antenna construction - definitive guide
- W0BTU's Practical, comprehensive information concerning Two-wire Beverage antennas
- VE4QRP "baby beverage" antenna
- SWDXER ¨The SWDXER¨ - with general SWL information and radio antenna tips.
- Harold H. Beverage article on 200 meter Beverages
- Map of the AT&T Transoceanic Telephone Receiver Site in Houlton, Maine
- U.S. Naval Radio Station Otter Cliffs
- The Wave Antenna, A New Type of Highly Directive Antenna, Proceedings of the AIEE, February 1923
- Beverage Antennas for High Frequency Communications, Direction Finding and Over the Horizon Radars, Canadian Research Center
- The Wave Antenna, Edmund Laport