I was driving behind an old Volvo (early 90's I'd guess) that had a
platform on top made from an old fashion bolt-on car top carrier and
piece of 3/4 ply almost as big as the roof of the car.
Mounted in the middle of this platform was an antenna, about 12" - 18"
tall and shaped kind of like a football standing on end but squattier
- not as round as a basketball, but not as elongated as a football -
somewhere in between. It had a solid bar in the middle and 4 curved
rods at 0, 90, 180 and 270 degrees that gave it it's shape. It
appeared to be pretty old, like something from a 60's sci-fi flick.
Anybody know what this style of antenna is used for?
It sounds like a quadrafilar helix, for somewhere around the 2 meter
(144-148Mhz) ham band. It's an antenna that produces circular
polarization and is omnidirectional, useful for receiving signals from
satellites. There are amateur radio satellites that operate in the 2m
band, or it might have been to receive weather satellite pictures at
around 137 Mhz.
The same type of antenna is commonly used for GPS receivers but
because the GPS system operates at a much higher frequency, the
antennas are only a few inches long.
Roger Grady email@example.com
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