Routing Coaxial Cable
This is probably one of the most common questions that I receive, “How do I route my coaxial cable?” First off, DO NOT PANIC! Elk Antennas have to follow the exact same rules of physics that all other antennas have to follow. You want to efficiently route your feedline to not interfere with antenna – particularly driven elements. On a Log Periodic Dipole Array (LPDA) antenna, every element is driven! They may not all be active at every moment, but like keys on a piano they still are able to function whether you play them or not. If you put metal objects, and that includes feedline, near the radiating elements of any antenna, it will act as a parasitic element. It will change the performance, pattern, and SWR of the antenna. Perhaps only by a little bit, but it could profoundly affect the antenna in ways that you will not like.
We recommend, when vertically polarized, that you run the coaxial cable out to the side, then down the mast or tower. If you are horizontally polarized, then run the coax down about 18 inches and over to the mast or tower and down to your radio.
I am asked if it is possible to run the feedline along the boom and out the back? The answer is sure. Many people do this for the benefit of handheld operation, or for mounting the antenna from the rear. Can it affect your SWR? Likely! It also is likely not be be devastatingly bad, so it is a compromise you may wish to choose.
What should I do if I am operating handheld – like with satellites? My mind goes to two main answers here. The first is that I let the coax and normally a short jumper cable attached to my HT flop around to a certain extent. I have not noticed serious deleterious effects because of this practice. I seem to be able to scan for DX signals, perform direction finding, and work satellites with this method alone.
The second recommendation is to install a 90 degree RF adapter and run coaxial cable right along the boom assembly. I hold it in place with cable ties (zip ties). This works just fine, looks sharp, and gives me the piece of mind that I am doing everything that I can to get the most out of my antenna! That being said, I personally use the “let the coax flop around” method more often…