Hy-gain 14-AVQ—My First Amateur Radio HF Antenna

ham radio log entry

Imagine my excitement as a fairly new Novice: American Samoa!

What should I use for an HF antenna? I received this query from a friend who has recently passed his amateur radio General Class exam. My usual answer is: a homebrew dipole, but that got me to thinking. What was my first ham radio HF antenna? It wasn’t homebrew at all. I purchased a Hy-gain 14AVQ vertical antenna. That was in 1975. Remarkably, that same antenna is still available today as the Hy-gain AV-14AVQ via mail order from www.hy-gain.com for a quite reasonable $179.95 plus S&H.

I purchased the antenna because at the time it was remarkably popular. It covers the 40, 20, 15, and 10 meter ham bands (this was pre-WARC and there were no 30, 17, and 12-meter bands). Propagation in those days was such that I spent nearly all my time as a Novice on 40 and 15 meters—callsign WN7AIU. I had a Heathkit HW-16 CW-only transceiver which I received as a college graduation gift from my parents.

The antenna is designed to be mounted atop a structure (in my case the “mast” was a short section of 1.5″ pipe strapped to the brick chimney on my parents’ house in California) with some very simple radials. Basically, two radials for each band. That meant radials for 40, 20, and 10 (15 meters is a convenient multiple of 40 meters and the same radials will do for both). This is in contrast to more “modern” vertical antennas that are ground mounted and require more than a dozen radials—sometimes many dozens.

I didn’t use any kind of tuner and never had any problems loading my “hot water sixteen” directly into the antenna via RG-58 coax. And I worked the world! Well, okay, “my” world, which was pretty much the state of California. DX for me was Northern Mexico or perhaps Oregon. I was stuck on 7107 kHz because that’s the crystal I had. I’d tune the radio and read a magazine until I heard a CQ, then answer it (Morse code only, of course). I look back at my log and see Hawaii (in all caps with three exclamation marks) and American Samoa (in caps and a box—see photo above), and Japan (again in caps in a box).

After I passed my General exam and became WB6GBT, I traded the HW-16 for a Yaesu FT-201 (yes, 201—that’s not a typo) and fully explored 40m, 20m, and 15m single-sideband. I remember one time I had just come into my room from the shower and the radio was tuned to 7253 kHz and I heard an SSB CQ from Duncan on Johnston Island. I’m looking in my log now—it was 18 Jan 1976 at 0547Z and his call was KJ6CF. He was there on a military assignment. I grabbed the mike and had a great QSO. As soon as we ended, the pile-up started! Ah, propagation was good then. And I made that contact on my Hy-gain 14AVQ!

So, what antenna do I recommend for hams new to HF? Well, still a wire dipole because it can be made for next to nothing. But that 14AFQ was sure a good performer!

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3 Responses to Hy-gain 14-AVQ—My First Amateur Radio HF Antenna

  1. KA7NIQ here, I live in Tampa, and may get one to mount in a clean install on my roof.
    Back in 1975, the Hy Gain was a popular vertical, and it is better than the Hustler from 20 to 10 meters. People who live right on Tampa Bay use them all the time, ground or roof mounted.

  2. Gastone says:

    Molto bella la tua storia. Potresti scriverla più diffusamente e pubblicarla su qualche rivista di radio. 73 ed auguri, IW0QCH Gastone Italy (Google translates this as “Very beautiful your story. You could write extensively and publishes a magazine on the radio. 73 and best wishes, Italy Gastone IW0QCH”)

  3. scott says:

    Great story Dave. I won’t tell you where I was in 1975. And I will definitely take your advice and start with a wire dipole.

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