VLF Antennas


"Walking" stick

Walking stick configuration with the INSPIRE model RS-4 VLF radio receiver

The "walking" stick is the easiest antenna to set up. A VLF receiver is small and light enough to be mounted onto the pole itself. It's main component is a two by two inch square wood pole. The antenna element (attached close to the top of the pole) is a 72 inch telescoping whip. This particular image shows the INSPIRE RS-4 VLF receiver with the radio shack mini speaker-amplifier (the small white box near the bottom). A four foot long copper grounding rod staked into the soil provides vertical support. The copper rod also serves as an electrical ground connection to the earth. The picture also shows the receiver is setup near the trees, which is just for display; for optimum performance it would be located at least twice the distance of the nearest tree's height.

close-up of antenna

The antenna element is ingeniously attached to the pole using twin-lead cable standoff insulators with wood screw threads.


This picture shows an external speaker mounted near the bottom of the walking stick.






Long wire

A long wire is very useful when the walking stick antenna does not produce enough gain to hear VLF radio emissions. This type of antenna is popular with shortwave radio listeners. On very low frequencies the long wire becomes very much like a microphone, therefore it is important to suspend the wire as high above the ground as possible.

The "egg" insulator electrically isolates the antenna wire from the support wire. A simple alligator clip lead connects the receiver to the antenna.


48 foot vertical

48 foot vertical deployed in the Mohave Desert

It is made from various parts, the base is made from parts of a large industrial computer, a wide milk crate, nuts, bolts, and some hose clamps. The computer parts are large (23" x 10" x 5/8") aluminum watercooled heatsinks. They are used for support, we put counterweights on them to hold it steady. The antenna is held in place with a short piece of aluminum tubing (1 1/2" x 17") hoseclamped to the milk crate. A fiberglass tube (1 1/2" Inner dia. x 12") insulates the electrical ground from the vertical element. The antenna is made up of several sections of aluminum tubing, starting with 1 1/2" diameter tubing at the bottom, 1/4" rod at the top. We purchased the antenna element parts at M2 or M squared Enterprises. Mike Staal at M2 ( www.m2inc.com) helped select the parts we needed to have a good, strong antenna. It takes about 15 minutes to set up, and about 10 to break it down.

 48 foot vertical deployed at Wide Awake RanchClose-up of antenna base


B-field Loop

The loop antenna is made for receiving the magnetic (B-field) component of VLF emissions. It has the advantage in heavily forested areas, unlike E-field antenna reception, the loop is not affected by trees, shrubs or other vegetation. Another remarkable benefit is that a loop receives signals bi-directionally. Therefore, one could hear VLF emissions in stereo by setting up two loop antennas at right angles of each other.