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The Pros and Cons of Log-Periodic Antennas

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.

What Are Log-Periodic Antennas?

There are several different types of log-periodic antennas, such as the planar log periodic, zig-zag periodic, slot periodic antenna, V LP antenna, trapezoidal, and dipole LP antenna. The log-periodic dipole array antenna is abbreviated to LPDA for short; this is the most common type of log periodic antenna.

In all cases, the longest element of the log-periodic antenna is at the rear of the array. All log-periodic antennas feed from the front or narrow end.

The log-periodic antenna is similar to a yagi antenna but not exactly the same. For the log periodic antenna, the driven elements decrease in size where none are the same length.

For a Yagi antenna, most of the elements are of the same length. The highest frequency the antenna can receive is a function of the shortest element at the front. The element at the back is half a wavelength of the lowest frequency in operation.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of log-periodic antennas?

A printed circuit board log periodic antenna

A printed circuit board log periodic antenna

The Advantages of Log-Periodic Antennas

They have very wide bandwidths. Log periodic antennas have much broader frequency bandwidths than Yagi antennas. One log periodic antenna may work for both HF and UHF frequencies. A log-periodic antenna can be used for EMC measurements when it is necessary to scan a wide band of frequencies.

Log-periodic antennas have the same radiation resistance over their frequency range. This gives it the same SWR whether at the low point of its frequency range or the high end.

LP antennas also have the same gain and back to front ratio, and they have high forward gain. In contrast, a Yagi antenna would experience degradation of its gain factor or front-to-back ratio as the frequency shifted from the one the antenna was optimized for. Three to six dB gain over a 2:1 bandwidth is reasonable with a log-periodic antenna.

Their feed point impedance is mostly constant.

Because log-periodic antennas have elements of different lengths as part of their design, it is easy to make changes in its frequency with relatively little impact on its electrical characteristics. Adding elements to a log-periodic dipole antenna increases its bandwidth.

Log-periodic antennas typically have low SWR, rarely greater than 2:1. You may be able to achieve an SWR level better than 1.3:1.

Since a log-periodic antenna electrically acts like an array of Yagi antennas, using a single log periodic antenna can replace multiple Yagis.

Disadvantages of Log Periodic Antennas

They have less gain than a Yagi antenna of the same size. And they have low gain per unit of weight or wind load.

In order for a log-periodic antenna to have very good VSWR performance, it needs to be very large. For smaller log-periodic antennas, the VSWR performance is not very good. This can be offset by adding a yagi antenna to the receiving array.

A Herringbone type log periodic antenna

A Herringbone type log periodic antenna

Observations About Log-Periodic Antennas

Log periodic antennas are beam antennas, not omnidirectional. And they have a low polarization ratio as a result.

Elements in a log-periodic antenna may be sloped forward or simply sit perpendicular to the main feed. Herringbone Log Periodics, log-periodic antennas with swept forward elements, work well on their 3rd harmonics. Since TV channels 7 through 13 are the 3rd harmonic of TV Channels 2 through 6, making herringbone log-periodic antennas popular as TV antennas.

Parasitic elements are sometimes used to enhance the gain or front-to-back ratio of a log-periodic antenna.

You can use log periodic antennas as satellite dish feeds.

You can use log periodic antennas as satellite dish feeds.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: I am planning to build an antenna to boost signals for my 4G dongle. I am looking for to build an antenna for 2300Mz to 2400Mz. Which antenna is best for this purpose Yagi or Log Periodic Antenna?

Answer: The best small antenna for this application is a 2-11 GHz log periodic by Kent Electronics. It would have 6 dBi gain. Their larger 850-6500 MHz log periodic antenna would work,having 6 dBi gain. A yagi antenna built specifically for that frequency range would have about 10 dBi gain.

Question: If I was to build a 400 MHz -1000mhz and cover it to protect it from the elements, can I use it as the centre of my parabolic antenna?

Answer: Yes, Log Periodics have been used a dish feeds for over 50 years.

Physics says a parabolic needs to be 10 wavelengths across to bring the waves to a proper focus. You can get a parabolic 5 wavelengths across to work reasonably well.

At 400 MHz, the waves are 70 cm long, so you need a 3.5 Meter dish.

At 1000 MHz the waves are 30 cm long, so you need at least a 1.5 Meter dish.