The old saying “the more things change the more they stay the same” and just about every place you look you’ll find this is true. For example, there’s a hotdog stand down the street that’s now selling a line of gourmet sausages for breakfast or lunch and suddenly there’s a rush on for their basic old hotdog product.
The same is true in the world of radio – ham radio to be more exact. For many years, one of the mainstay antennas has been the collinear antenna. The Wikipedia describes the basic collinear antenna as a series of dipole antennas with each antenna mounted so that it is not only an individual antenna, but it is also part of the the entire array.
The advantage that we’ve (radio operators, even LAN operators) of collinears is that they give you at least a-third of an S-Unit increase in gain with no corresponding need for complexity. In other words, you build it, make each part of it a part of the entire antenna as well as and that’s pretty much all there is to it. It’s easy and strong to erect and use. Also, from a ham radio standpoint you don’t have to it a perfect half-wave off the ground for it to work. It will work at at a-third or a wavelength or a-quarter wave and you’d be surprised at the performance.
Let’s look at one antenna that’s been getting good reports, one made by MFJ Enterprises, Starkville, MS. Marty Jue, K5LUE, has quietly and carefully become, if not THE force to deal with in the Amateur world, one of THE forces, the others being the major radio manufacturers. It has taken Marty a long time to achieve this status and his products have gone from fairly primitive (we know we used them when they were and have watched them become more and more sophisticated) to about as sophisticated as one can get. His line of automatic tuners, for example, is a market leader, as is his line of solid state amplifiers. So, it should come as little wonder that when he asked his designers to revisit the collinear antenna for Ham use, they looked at it and decided to make some improvements.
For example, his design team looked at old designs and today’s materials technology and has merged them so that the MFJ-6215 Collinear antenna not only is a “plug and play” antenna (you just put it up and plug it in), but it is also a direct feed – you just hook it up to the back of a tuner or your rig and fire it up.
So, when your buddy up the street loudly announces on the local repeater that he’s just worked JA (Japan) on 15 meters, you can fire up your rig and probably here the JA, plus a bunch of Chinese stations as well because the 6215 (15-meter collinear) gives you about 150 percent more capture area that the standard dipole. It’s an interesting modern interpretation of a classic.
Using modern materials and solder less construction techniques, the 6215 is a durable antenna. It should not only withstand the winters we have in New England, but it may even withstand several generations of those winters. It is a well-made antenna that can perform.
And, here’s an interesting idea, since it is possible to mount antennas at right angles to one another, it is possible for you to mount a pair of 6215s so that you can not only have North-South coverage, but also East-West coverage so you can have complete coverage, no matter the angle of the signal.
Simple to install, you will notice that they tend to be two to three db quieter than standard antennas.
If you’re thinking about picking up one of the MFJ Collinears like the 6215, you’ll find them ranging in length from 55 to 136 feet long.
One last note is that while some antennas have to be carried away at 90-degree angles for best performance, you can twist the feedline into whatever configuration you need for your properly.