You will sometimes want to use one antenna system for transmitting and receiving on several different frequencies. Since the antenna must always be in resonance with the applied frequency, you may need to either physically or electrically lengthen or shorten the antenna.
Except for trailing-wire antennas used in aircraft installations (which may be lengthened or shortened), physically lengthening the antenna is not very practical. But you can achieve the same result by changing the electrical length of the antenna. To change the electrical length, you can insert either an inductor or a capacitor in series with the antenna. This is shown in the figure below, views A and B.
Changing the electrical length by this method is known as LUMPED-IMPEDANCE TUNING, or LOADING. The electrical length of any antenna wire can be increased or decreased by loading. If the antenna is too short for the wavelength being used, it is resonant at a higher frequency than that at which it is being excited. Therefore, it offers a capacitive reactance at the excitation frequency.
This capacitive reactance can be compensated for by introducing a lumped-inductive reactance, as shown in view A. Similarly, if the antenna is too long for the transmitting frequency, it offers an inductive reactance. Inductive reactance can be compensated for by introducing a lumped-capacitive reactance, as shown in view B. An antenna without loading is represented in view C.
Before you look at the various types of antennas, consider the relationship between the wavelength at which the antenna is being operated and the actual length of the antenna. An antenna does not necessarily radiate or receive more energy when it is made longer. Specific dimensions must be used for efficient antenna operation.
Nearly all antennas have been developed from two basic types, the Hertz and the Marconi. The basic Hertz antenna is 1/2 wavelength long at the operating frequency and is insulated from ground. It is often called a DIPOLE or a DOUBLET. The basic Marconi antenna is 1/4 wavelength long and is either grounded at one end or connected to a network of wires called a COUNTERPOISE. The ground or counterpoise provides the equivalent of an additional 1/4 wavelength, which is required for the antenna to resonate.
A half-wave antenna (referred to as a dipole, Hertz, or doublet) consists of two lengths of wire rod, or tubing, each 1/4 wavelength long at a certain frequency. It is the basic unit from which many complex antennas are constructed. The half-wave antenna operates independently of ground; therefore, it may be installed far above the surface of the Earth or other absorbing bodies. For a dipole, the current is maximum at the center and minimum at the ends. Voltage is minimum at the center and maximum at the ends, as shown in the figure below.