Harper's Rhombic Antenna Design Foreword
The following is the foreword from Harper's Rhombic Antenna Design textbook, the source most
commonly quoted in rhombic antenna design discussions. This text was written by A. E. Harper of Bell
Laboratories in 1941. In the forword, Ralph Brown, also of Bell Labs, basically describes the birth of
the rhombic antennas in the 40's as an elegant replacement for the cumbersome and crude short
wave antennas that were the rhombic's precurors. Unfortunately Mr. Brown's description could easily
today be applied to the demise of the rhombic antenna, which has now become as cumbersome and
relatively crude appearing to the "satellite generation." The internet and satellite linkages have now
made the global communications previously reserved for great antennas like the rhombic, commonplace.
Mr. Brown's foreword:
When there was built in 1929 at Lawrenceville, New Jersey, a radio telephone station for initiating overseas
short-wave service, the most pictured feature of the new establishment was a gigantic wire fence or
net, a mile long, stretching across the landscape on a row of 185 foot towers. This comprised the
transmitting antenna complement for the three telephone circuits to Europe.
A year ago the nets were taken down, the towers dismantled and sold for junk. Near them had
arisen a number of telephone poles carrying at odd looking angles a few almost invisible wires. While
this was the most spectacular conquest of the rhombic antenna, it is not the only measure of its impact
on short wave radio telephony. Subsequent stations constructed in Florida and California made use of
this simple, efficient radiator from the start and its economy was a factor in justifying the establishement
of new routes to South America, Hawaii and the Orient.
Although the rhombic has been known since its first published description by E. Bruce in 1931, it has
not been widely adopted outside the radio telephone field of the Western Hemisphere. One reason for
this, no doubt, is the lack of easily usable information on the rational design of this antenna to fit
it in each case to the work to be done - and a sound design is necessary to successful use of any
To make design information available to radio telephone engineers of the
Bell System, A.E. Harper compiled this handbook from the published and unpublished work of his
colleagues in Bell Telephone Laboratories. The prospect that libraries, students and engineers
in other departments of the radio art would like to have this material has prompted its formal publication.
Ralph Brown, Bell Telephone Laboratories.