Book Review

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Antenna books


Antennas for All Applications, 3rd ed. by J. D. Kraus and R. J. Marhefka. McGraw-Hill, 2002, 938 pages.
This exceptional book is written in a phenomenally clear writing style that not only provides the reader with a quantitative understanding of antennas, but with an intuitive understanding as well. J. D. Kraus was a well known radio astronomer and the inventor of the helical antenna. Each chapter discusses a different type of antenna, such as helical beam and axial antennas, dipole arrays, loop antennas, broadband antennas, reflector antennas, lens antennas, and baluns. Unlike the other books described here, this book also discusses exotic antennas such as plasma and fractal antennas and terahertz antennas. It also discusses interferometry in greater detail than the other books. The treatment is the most abstract of the books described here; the reader is assumed to be able to figure out which antenna is most suitable for a given application. Uses basic calculus. Contains numerous solved example problems.

Antenna Engineering Handbook, 3rd ed. , R. C. Johnson, ed. McGraw-Hill, 1993, approx. 1490 pages.
As its title suggests, this book is oriented more toward engineering aspects than theory. Each chapter is written by a different author. The book is in four sections. The largest two sections discuss antennas categorized by type and by application. This means that the reader sometimes has to check in two places to get a complete picture. However, since some types of antennas are more suited to a particular frequency range, this may better help the reader decide which antenna to use for a given application. Has more information about radar and military antennas (such as seeker antennas in missiles) than the other books described here. Because this book is a few years older than Kraus and Marhefka, there is no information on newer topics such as terahertz antennas. (Disclaimer: I did not yet read this book in its entirety).

The ARRL Antenna Book, 20th ed. R. D. Straw, ed. ARRL, 2003, 936 pages (large format).
This book is oriented toward ham radio operators and contains less theory, fewer equations, and more practical information than the other three books. In addition to the various antenna types, it covers topics such as antenna placement, orientation, installation, and safety. Topics such as transmission lines, towers, and mounting are covered in greater detail than the other books, and unlike the other books, this book contains a number of circuit diagrams, engineering drawings, and photographs. The antennas are mostly designed for specific amateur frequencies; also covers phased arrays and satellite antennas used by ham operators. Terahertz and lens antennas, and advanced topics like antenna temperature are omitted. However, Yagi antennas are more thoroughly discussed than in the other books. The chapter on low-frequency antennas actually covers 160-40 meters, not LF as the title suggests. Includes CD and 14 pages of advertisements in the back.

Practical Antenna Handbook, 4th ed. Joseph J. Carr. McGraw-Hill, 2001, 608 pages.
A discussion of various basic antenna types popular among SWLs and amateur operators. The subject is introduced at a much lower level than the three books described above but contains accurate practical advice. Contains a CD with Windows-based software.

The Art and Science of Ultrawideband Antennas Hans Schantz. Artech House, 2005, 331 pages.
Modern radio applications like spread-spectrum radios or 802.11n devices need antennas with wide bandwidth and low dispersion. This book is a brief introduction to small omnidirectional wideband antennas, mainly elliptical planar antennas, for the 3.1-10.6 GHz band. The book is well written and concise. Unfortunately, the illustrations, which appear to be black and white versions of someone's PowerPoint slides, did not reproduce well. In some of the graphs, the originally color-coded lines came out as nearly the same shade of gray. Other graphs have white lines on a white background or (almost) black on a black background. The photographs are grainy and similarly hard to interpret.

Only about 100 pages of this 300-page book specifically discuss ultrawideband antennas. Except for these two chapters ("A Taxonomy of UWB antennas", which is a quick survey of antenna types, and "UWB Antennas in Systems", which discusses cutting notches in elliptical planar antennas to filter out unwanted signals), the book is essentially a general introduction to antenna physics and electromagnetic theory. Arrays and directional antennas are not discussed. The audience seems to be engineers who know little about antennas but need to get up to speed quickly so they can slap an antenna onto some existing commercial product. For these readers, the book would be more than adequate.

Created December 27, 2004; last updated Sept 3, 2007 Back