3hdr.jpg (19235 bytes)antenneX: Selection III: The CD-ROM
L. B. Cebik, W4RNL

hdr_t.jpg (1395 bytes)his is a guest editorial review of an antenneX product, so we might as well set the record straight. As a regular writer for antenneX with some disk and print materials available through the Shopping Shack, I have a vested interest in the success of this unique on-line journal. That fact does not mean I shall be unobjective. It does mean that I shall be objectively enthusiastic.

antenneX is read by in about 175 countries by an ever-growing number of subscribers. The journal has proven that publishing on-line can be successful with careful attention to what appears and how it appears. The articles are generally well illustrated, combining the visual readability of on-line graphics with solid content. That content covers a wide region of readership, ranging from the hobbyist to the professional engineer. As well, the content runs from the practical--and sometimes the simple and ingenious practical--to the theoretical, whether one is seeking newer or better understanding of existing antenna designs to experimental antenna design. Little antennas are always intriguing, but big ones, too, have appeared. From the controversial CTHA to the multi-loop multi-element ADRs and SDRs, from 1.8 MHz to 2 GHz, antenneX articles have offered the experimenter, the builder, the designer, and the analyst a host of materials. At least 10 fresh aricles made up of 4 columns and 6 feature articles appear in each issue--and that material accumulates rapidly.

All of the material is on-line at the antenneX site. However, only about 5% of those who use the web have unlimited time and super-speed connections to make true research feasible. In some parts of the world, a month of limited web time can cost more than the price of a CD-ROM. As well, sharing the results of a research mission into the antenneX archives is difficult at best on line. Enter the antenneX CD-ROMs!

Between the appearance of Selection II and the new Selection III CD-ROM, something over 100 new items have appeared in the on-line pages. That is reason enough to upgrade, if you already have an older CD-ROM. If you have never looked at a CD-ROM version of antenneX, you are in for a treat.

startup.gif (5123 bytes)The CD-ROM auto-starts--if you enable the auto-start feature in your version of Windows. (Otherwise, start it from the RUN button.) You then go into the library or into the archives. Rather than wait for connection and downloading, the CD-ROM gives a rumbling whirring sound, and the indices appear instantly. Select your target article, and once more, it appears with no waiting. I estimate that I can cover the ground needed to look up a set of inter-related articles at least 7-8 times faster on the CD-ROM than on line. Since I tend often to look up matters to help newcomers to the antenna world, there is usually someone looking over my shoulder, waiting anxiously for some information. The CD-ROM is a boon to sharing information.

st.gif (14263 bytes)Everyone knows--or should know--that everything in the world of antennas connects up at root via Maxwell's equations--at least the versions we know from later interpretations of his work. However, it is surprising to many how much of the work on antennas at the most practical level connects up--although admittedly, a little less systematically. An article on the seemingly simple J-pole antenna will lead one to look for articles on parallel transmission lines and on end-fed antennas, not to mention on anything dealing with unbalanced currents on a transmission line section. Small antennas come in many sizes and shapes, using wire or solid structures, with and without loading and matching networks. From this small beginning, one discovers that there are a myriad of articles in the antenneX archives dealing with the whole challenge, with facets of the challenge, and with material that forms a background for fully appreciating the challenge. Every other antenna topic has similar threads of interconnectedness, whether we are looking for basic theory or for practical hardware to hold the mess in place during a storm.

The columns in antenneX serve as a benchmark for what is going on in the world of antennas. "Stone's Throw" by publisher Jack Stone provides news of new developments in antenna work, not only in technical areas, but as well in the legal and business world's that surround practical antenna design and implementation. The Guest Editorial--like this one--gives regular contributors and special invited guests a place to express views, whether skeptical or encouraging. These two columns provide some historical perspective on the changing concerns of those working with antennas.

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On the practical level, the "Ham Workshop" gives the reader a wealth of diverse ideas on the practical side of antenna work. Richard Morrow, K5CNF, especially, deserves note for his continuing efforts to implement the experimental in a technically solid way while using the most common and accessible materials and easiest techniques. Richard's efforts for antenneX date back to the days of paper, when antenneX was model.jpg (23828 bytes)read in a mere 45 countries, in contrast the today's number. Bringing up the rear is my own "Antenna Modeling" column which is nearing its third full year. All of the columns from 1 to 34 are on the CD-ROM.

It likely is wholly unnecessary to trace the article themselves, since the variety makes the effort impossible, in any event. If CFA captured last year's attention, quads and bigger loops seems to be one of several foci this year. Perhaps the most notable development in the year 2000 has been the expansion of contributors to include writers from around the world. Where once the English-speaking world could only wonder how experimenters and hams behind what we once called an iron curtain solved antenna problems, we now have people like Igor Grigorov, RK3ZK of Belgorod, Russia sharing many techniques of which we in the US have previously only been vaguely aware. The varieties of ingenuity know no cultural boundaries, but every set of circumstances leads to different ways to achieve our goals and those methods lead us to study and understand some things more than others. Recent editions of antenneX have gone a long way toward making information sharing more than an ideal--it has become a practical reality.

It does not always take a fundamental break-through to make information sharing worthwhile. Making connections between material found in diverse sources is often a matter of keeping one's eyes open and putting oneself into the writer's shoes. Desert and permafrost antenna techniques have more in common than folks might suspect at first sight.

frntcvr.gif (21057 bytes)One of the true conveniences of having antenneX on CD-ROM is that it makes meandering through the maze of ideas a truly simple and speedy task. The graphics download as rapidly as the text, so whole articles appear at once. One can scan the data as well as the running text together, without waiting for the last table or schematic to download. And that speed makes it easier for the reader-searcher-wanderer to keep his or her mind open to the ideas. Under those conditions, connections between seemingly disparate articles almost make themselves.

For those who prefer to have an index and to search in more traditional methods, perhaps the future will hold a key-word search feature in Selection IV. Time will tell.

In any event, I am an inveterate meanderer through the archives of antenneX. I never know in advance what will grab my attention. It may be an article that I passed over and now wish to read. It may also be something I read and understood, but which now has a new set of meanings in the context of the project that I happen to be working on at the moment.

Using the CD-ROM is simplicity in itself. The key buttons on the left are the Library for the current (December, 2000) issue and Archives 1 through IV for everything past. Each archive button leads you to a list of articles, and clicking on lib.jpg (31535 bytes)a title takes you to the text and graphics. The Library page will also let you select the indices of the 4 columns in each issue, and from each of those column lists, you can select the subject that interests you. There are also two other sections of material to note. One is the subscription page. If you share information as I do, be sure to share the antenneX subscription page as well. Finally, there is the Shopping Shack, where you can find equipment, books, and software. And do not forget the free downloads of software or the metric-imperial measurement conversion page.

All internal links to antenneX material are operative on the CD-ROM. However, external links will be inoperative unless you happen to be on- line at the time of clicking on them or happen to have a system that will offer you the option of going on line to get them. If you are off-line and wish to purchase something from the Shopping Shack, you will have to go on-line or order via phone or post. Do not forget that "capital S" if you open the on-line Shopping shack page directly (http://www.antennex.com/Sshack/shopping.htm): the antenneX UNIX system is case sensitive. My system, when off-line, happens to offer to put me on-line if I click a Shopping Shack order form.

arch4.jpg (22284 bytes)If you do not have either Selections I or Selections II, then the cost of Selection III, with its 500 plus articles and columns, is $34.95 (US). If you have either of the previous Selections, once you have been verified from the antenneX data base, your cost will be $24.95 (US). There is a $5 shipping and handling charge. Standard credit cards are accepted.

So--if I did not have Selection III in my machine as I write this--would I invest in the upgrade? You bet I would. Six months ago, Selection II showed the opening of Archive IV with just 2 articles. There are now 50, not to mention the numerous columns that have been added since the last CD-ROM.

If I did not have an antenneX CD-ROM, would I invest in Selections III? Yes, indeed! It is said that a little information goes a long way. Imagine how far all of the antenneX information will go. For more information, Selection III can be found on the list of literature in the antenneX BookShelf.

A few folks who currently have the "Double Pack" containing antenneX Selections II and the W4RNL Tales and Technicals may wonder if they should wait for an updated double pack. Since Tales and Technicals is a smaller site, it will not be updated on CD-ROM as often--perhaps not until it is time for a Selections IV. Perhaps in time for Christmas, 2001, or thereabouts. Hence, I would not wait. Selections III will keep you busy reading and learning at least until then. -30-

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