Monday, 26 September 2016

The Amazing BOG


A recent inquiry about 'BOG' antennas on the topband reflector reminded me of my own experiences with this simple yet very effective antenna. A 'BOG' or 'Beverage On Ground' seems to come in many varieties and is usually, out of necessity, shorter than a 'real' beverage.

In many instances, BOGs are as simple as running a wire out on the ground as long and as straight as practical. Not always, but usually, the BOG is fed by a small homemade balun to isolate and match the impedance to a 50 ohm feedline. Most real Beverages are terminated at the far end with a resistor to ground, while for BOG builders, some use it and some don't.

My own experience with a BOG, or as close as I could come to one, was an extension of my 160m half-sloper. The topband half-sloper was quite normal, being about 132' long and fed at the top of its supporting metal tower with 50 ohm coax ... the hot-side of the coax going to the wire and the shield going to the metal tower.

One afternoon I wondered how the antenna would work lower in frequency, in the NDB band below the broadcast band, if I were to extend the sloping 132' element further. I added another length of wire to the lower end and proceeded to run the wire along the ground on the bankside above the beach. I was able to run out another 500' approximately, in a straight line to the east, before running out of beach. I left the far end unterminated and waited for darkness to to have a listen.

The first thing I noticed when tuning the NDB band was how quiet it sounded. There seemed to be almost no noise, man-made or nature-made. Disconnecting the antenna showed a small drop in what little noise there was, indicating that sensitivity levels were still being determined by skynoise ... a good thing.

What amazed me however, was that signals just popped-up everywhere and although not as strong as on my normal NDB antenna (a loop at the time), they were much better copy since there was virtually no noise. The BOG produced a significant improvement in my SNR on all signals. It had been several months since I had logged any new beacons on the NDB band but over the next three weeks I was able to put 65 new catches in the log ... all previously unheard!  Switching between the loop and the BOG almost always produced no copy at all on the new signals, compared to an easily copied one on the BOG.

My experience was very similar to that shown in these videos by VO1HP ... with solid signals well out of the low noise background and no sign of atmospheric noise to mask them.

It is clearly evident that the BOG delivers a much better SNR than the comparison loop and is the reason so many topbanders use a separate antenna for receiving. The next video compares the BOG with a 160m 'Inverted-L', a very popular antenna on topband.

BOGs need not be really long and good results can be had with just 200' of wire. Many BOG users employ a simple preamp to boost the low level of signal but often the switchable 'preamp' built into a receiver or transceiver will be enough to overcome the low gain of shorter wires.

I've often thought that if I had a lot of acreage, the ideal receiving system for MF and LF work would be a centrally located radio shack with long Beverage wires fed-out in various directions ... like the spokes of a wheel. Having the ability to directionally switch antennas would produce 'beam-like' capabilities on LF.

There is a ton of web information available on the BOG and the Beverage should you want to give this simple antenna a try and have a narrow strip of space where one might be laid out without causing a problem.

A very comprehensive source of BOG and Beverage information can be found on WØBTU's Beverage Receiving Antennas page here. 

A nice compilation of Beverage / BOG exchanges from the Topband Reflector may be found on N1EU's Beverage Antenna Tips page here.
In addition, N1EU has a useful page of discussion about transformers used in these antennas.

PA5MW offers a colorful description of his own BOG experience here.

Bruce, K1FZ has a nice BOG 'hint's' page here and also passed this advise to the original BOG inquiry:

A BOG can do a good job unterminated. If too long they self terminate. Depends upon the soil as to length.

The biggest mistake is making the BOG antenna too long. Try not to go
over 200 feet for 160 meters. Longer will work in some locations
soil like desert, sand, other non/ partial conducting types.

Its been a few years since my last experience with a BOG but I may run one out again for the DX season, now that most of my neighbours have left the island for the winter.

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