The J-pole antenna, more properly known as the J antenna, was first invented by Hans Beggerow in 1909 for use in Zeppelin airships. Trailed behind the airship, it consisted of a single element, one half wavelength long radiator with a quarter wave parallel feedline tuning stub. This concept evolved to the J configuration by 1936 attaining the name J Antenna by 1943. When the radiating half-wave section is mounted horizontally, at right-angles to the quarter-wave matching stub, the variation is typically called a "Zepp" antenna.
- 1 Characteristics
- 2 Feed and mounting
- 3 Variations
- 4 References
The J-pole antenna is an end-fed omnidirectional half-wave antenna that is matched to the feedline by a quarter wave parallel transmission line stub of Lecher system form. Matching to the feed-line is achieved by sliding the connection of the feedline back and forth along the stub until an impedance match is obtained. Being a half-wave antenna, it provides a small gain over a quarter-wave ground-plane antenna.
Gain and radiation pattern
Primarily a dipole, the J-pole antenna exhibits a mostly circular pattern in the H plane with an average free-space gain near 2.2 dBi (0.1 dBd). Measurements and simulation confirm the quarter-wave stub modifies the circular H-plane pattern shape increasing the gain slightly on the side of the J stub element and reducing the gain slightly on the side opposite the J stub element. At right angles to the J-stub, the gain is closer to the overall average: about 2.2 dBi (0.1 dBd). The slight increase over a dipole's 2.15 dBi (0 dBd) gain represents the small contribution to the pattern made by the current imbalance on the matching section. The pattern in the E plane reveals a slight elevation of the pattern in the direction of the J element while the pattern opposite the J element is mostly broadside. The net effect of the perturbation caused by quarter-wave stub is an H-plane approximate gain from 1.5 to 2.6 dBi (-0.6 dBd to 0.5 dBd).
Like all antennas, the J-pole is sensitive to electrically conductive objects in its induction fields (aka reactive near-field region ) and should maintain sufficient separation to minimize these near field interactions as part of typical system installation considerations. The quarter wave parallel transmission line stub has an external electromagnetic field with strength and size proportional to the spacing between the parallel conductors. The parallel conductors must be kept free of moisture, snow, ice and should be kept away from other conductors including downspouts, metal window frames, flashing, etc. by a distance of two to three times the spacing between the parallel stub conductors. The J-Pole is very sensitive to conductive support structures and will achieve best performance with no electrical bonding between antenna conductors and the mounting structure.
Feed and mounting
The J-pole antenna and its variations may be fed with balanced line. A coax feed line may be used if it includes a means to suppress feed-line RF currents. The feed-point of the J-pole is somewhere between the closed low-impedance bottom and open high-impedance top of the J stub. Between these two extremes a match to any impedance between the low to high impedance points is available.
The J-pole design functions well when fed with a balanced feed (via balun, transformer or choke) and no electrical connection exists between its conductors and surrounding supports. Historical documentation of the J antenna suggests the lower end of the matching stub is at zero potential with respect to earth and can connect to a grounding wire or mast with no effect on the antenna's operation. Later research confirms the tendency of the mast or grounding wire to draw current from the antenna potentially spoiling the antenna pattern. A common approach extends the conductor below the bottom of the J-pole resulting in additional and undesirable RF currents flowing over every part of the mounting structure. This modifies the far field antenna pattern typically, but not always, raising the primary lobes above the horizon reducing antenna effectiveness for terrestrial service. J-pole antennas with electrical connection to their supports often fare no better, and often much worse, than the simpler Monopole antenna. A mast decoupling stub reduces mast currents.
Slim Jim antenna
A variation of the J-pole is the Slim Jim antenna, also known as 2BCX Slim Jim, that is related to the J-pole the way a folded dipole is related to a dipole. The Slim Jim is one of many ways to form a J-Pole. Introduced by Fred Judd (G2BCX) in 1978, the name was derived from its slim construction and the J type matching stub (J Integrated Matching).
The Slim Jim variation of the J-pole antenna has characteristics and performance similar to a simple or folded Half-wave antenna and identical to the conventional J-pole construction. Judd found the Slim Jim produces a lower takeoff angle and better electrical performance than a 5⁄8 wavelength ground plane antenna. Slim Jim antennas made from ladder transmission line use the existing parallel conductor for the folded dipole element. In the copper pipe variation, the Slim Jim uses more materials for no performance benefit. Slim Jim antennas have no performance advantage over the conventional J-pole antenna.
The approximate gain in the H-plane of the Slim Jim is from 1.5 to 2.6 dBi (-0.6 dBd to 0.5 dBd).
The Super-J variation of the J-pole antenna adds another collinear half-wave radiator above the conventional J and connects the two with a phase stub to ensure both vertical half-wave sections radiate in current phase. The phasing stub between the two half-wave sections is often of the Franklin style.
The Super-J antenna compresses the vertical beamwidth and has more gain than the conventional J-pole design. Both radiating sections have insufficient separation to realize the maximum benefits of collinear arrays, resulting in slightly less than the optimal 3 dB over a conventional J-pole or halfwave antenna.
The approximate gain in the H-plane of the Super-J antenna is from 4.6 to 5.2 dBi (2.4 dBd to 3.1 dBd).
Collinear J antenna
The collinear J antenna improves the Super-J by separating the two radiating half-wave sections to optimize gain using a phasing coil. The resulting gain is closer to the optimum 3 dB over a conventional J-pole or halfwave antenna.
The approximate gain in the H-plane of the Collinear J antenna is from 4.6 to 5.2 dBi (2.4 dBd to 3.1 dBd).
E-plane gain patterns of the variations
The graph compares the E-plane gain of the above three variations to the conventional J antenna.
The conventional J antenna and SlimJIM variation are nearly identical in gain and pattern. The Super-J reveals the benefit of properly phasing and orienting a second radiator above the first. The Collinear J shows slightly higher performance over the Super-J.
Dual-band operation near 3rd harmonic
To address the pattern change a variety of techniques exist to allegedly constrain a J antenna operating at or near the third harmonic so only one half-wave is active in the radiator above the stub. All involve the use of a high impedance choke at the first voltage loop. These methods fall short of the goal as choking a high impedance point with a high impedance allows energy to pass the choke.
- "Very-High-Frequency Antennas". Antennas and Antenna Systems (TM 11-314) (PDF). U.S. War Department. 30 November 1943. pp. 163–164. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
- Beggerow, Hans (1909). "Zeppelin Antenna" (PDF). Retrieved 28 January 2016.
- US patent 2124424, Laurance McConnell Leeds, "Antenna System", published 1938-07-19
- Hall, Gerald (1988). The ARRL Antenna Book (15th ed.). American Radio Relay League. p. 24.25. ISBN 0-87259-206-5.
- Huggins, John S. "1/4 Wave Monopole vs. 1/2 Wave J-Pole EZNEC Shootout". Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Cebik, L.B. "Some J-Poles that I have known, Part 1: Why I finally got interested in J-Poles and some cautions in modeling them". Cebik.com. Archived from the original on April 22, 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
- Huggins, John S. "Slim Jim vs. Traditional J-pole Antenna". Retrieved 28 August 2015.
- Griffith, B. Whitfield (1962). Radio-Electronic Transmission Fundamentals. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Book Company, Inc. pp. 322–323.
- Balani s, Constantine (1982). Antenna Theory. Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. pp. 116–118. ISBN 0-06-040458-2.
- Collins, Brian (1984). "VHF and UHF Communication Antennas". In Johnson, Richard (ed.). Antenna Engineering Handbook (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. pp. 27.21–27.22. ISBN 0-07-032291-0.
- Griffith, B. Whitfield (1962). Radio-Electronic Transmission Fundamentals. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Book Company, Inc. pp. 243–244.
- Huggins, John S. "J-Pole Antenna – Should I ground it?". Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Richardson, Dan (March 1998). "The J-Pole Revisited" (PDF). CQ Magazine: 34–41. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Fong, Edison (March 2007). "The DBJ-2: A Portable VHF-UHF Roll-Up J-pole Antenna for Public Service". QST. Newington, CT: ARRL, Inc.
- A folded-balun, sleeve balun, or common-mode choke will suppress feed-line RF currents. See: Straw, Dean (2007). "26 - Coupling the Line to the Antenna". The ARRL Antenna Book. Newington, CT: The ARRL, Inc. ISBN 0-87259-987-6.
- Huggins, John S. "Have your J-Pole and ground it too". Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- Huggins, John S. "Mast Mountable J-Pole Antenna". Retrieved 17 June 2015.
- Huggins, John. "Mast Mountable Antenna". USPTO via Google. US Government. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
- US patent D798847, "Antenna", issued 2017-10-03
- Judd, Fred (1978). "Slim Jim - 2 Metre Aerial". Practical Wireless - Out of Thin Air: 37–39. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
- Cebik, L. B. "What is a Slim Jim?". Cebik.com. Archived from the original on 24 April 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Steve Cerwin (2007). "Mobile and Maritime Antennas - The Super-J Maritime Antenna". In Straw, Dean (ed.). ARRL Antenna Book (21st ed.). Newington, CT: The American Radio Relay League, Inc. pp. 16.23–16.26. ISBN 0-87259-987-6.
- Franklin, Charles (1924). "Franklin Antenna" (PDF). Retrieved 28 January 2016.
- Collins, Brian (1984). "VHF and UHF Communication Antennas - Base-Station Antennas". In Johnson, Richard; Henry Jasik (eds.). Antenna Engineering Handbook (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 27.14. ISBN 0-07-032291-0.
- Cebik, L.B. "Some J-Poles that I have known, Part 4: Some things we can and cannot do with a J-Pole". Cebik.com. Archived from the original on 22 April 2014. Retrieved 21 April 2014.
- Huggins, John S. "Improving the Super J-Pole Antenna". Retrieved 21 April 2014.
- Huggins, John. "Can a 2m J-Pole be used at 440?". Hamradio.me. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
- Huggins, John. "Antenna radiator decoupling stub flub?". Hamradio.me. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
- Huggins, John. "Where quarter-wave radiator decoupling stubs work ... and don't work". Hamradio.me. Retrieved 12 June 2019.