This page is intended to help design Coaxial Cable Antenna Traps for a multi-band trap antenna. The first part is just a short introduction into trap antennas. Next is a section that provides dimensions and material specifications for a set of Coaxial Cable Traps. Following that is a section that allows the user to create a custom trap using their specified frequency, coax, and coil form. That can be useful when the user wants to change the trap frequency, use a different coaxial cable, or has different coil form material than what is specified in the second section. The program behind the web page then calculates the necessary physical dimensions to realize the trap.

The Multi-Band Trap Antenna

A trap antenna uses L/C parallel tuned circuits to provide multiband dipole antenna that effectively switches between bands automatically. The input impedance on each of the design bands will be such that a tuner will not be needed when going from one band to another.

A trap dipole, in it's simplest form, might be a two band antenna for say, 80/40 Meters, as in Fig. 1. The total length of the 40 Meter section of the antenna is calculated by the usual formula, listed on the left and right. These simplified equations are based on the standard wavelength formula of λ(m) = 299,792,458/Frequency (Hz) and accounts for a Velocity Factor of 0.95. For 7.1 MHz that would be approximately 66 feet or 33 feet for each side of the Balun. The trap, which is tuned to 7.1 MHz, will present a high impedance and effectively isolates the 40 Meter section of wire from the extended 80 Meter wire. Leaving you with a standard 40 Meter dipole.

However, at 80 Meters, the trap, which is no longer resonant, acts as a loading coil and shortens the wire required to get resonance on the 80 Meter band. Depending on the coax used, this might shorten each side of the dipole by 4 to 5 feet. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but when your antenna space is limited, it may be the difference between having an antenna for 80 Meters, or not. A trap dipole for 3, 4, or 5 different bands, in a Inverted-V configuration, could very easily be the solution you need.

So the trap serves two purposes. One, to divorce one section of wire from another. And two, to effectively shorten the overall length of the antenna. It's not all good and no bad. The traps have loss and are not perfect at divorcing one piece of wire from another.

A common multiband trap dipole might be one for 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 Meters. This antenna would require eight traps. Overall, the antenna works pretty good. I've built and used one myself. While the antenna is almost full size on 10 and 15 Meters, the other bands are shortened considerably. The antenna is shortened by almost 12 feet on each side. Instead of needing 133 feet of space for 80 Meters, you would only need a little over 100 feet. In a Inverted-V configuration, even less space would be needed. That could mean the difference between having a 80 Meter antenna or not. There are some losses associated with having this many traps. But with the segments adjusted properly, you should be able to get a good match on each band. This means easy band switching without the need for a tuner.

However, if you do have some available space you might want to think about the configuration on the right. The configuration shown get around some of the problems that the previous configuration might have. By having a separate antenna for 80/40/15 Meters and 20/10 Meters the number of traps is reduced and their associated losses. This also maximizes the amount of wire that is actually in the air, giving you the best signal possible. Of course, this does mean you need a bit more space and the extra lines need to be tied down.

Relative advantages and disadvantages of trap antennas compared with separate antennas per band.

Pros Cons
  • Multiband operation achieved with a good match on all bands.
  • Automatic bandswitching.
  • Antenna length reduced.
  • No compromise operation on highest band(s) since a full-size antenna is employed there.
  • Lower cost than separate antennas.
  • Lower radiation efficiency due to trap losses on lower bands.
  • Narrowing of bandwidth due to the inductive loading presented by the traps.
  • Loss of second-harmonic rejection if bands are so related.
  • Not all band options, like 10M/12M and 15M/17M, available in a single antenna due to the closeness, wavelength wise, of these adjacent bands.
Coaxial Cable Trap Calculations

The table below provides dimensions for eight traps between 3.5 and 30 MHz. These dimensions assume RG-8X/9258 Coaxial cable and 2" PVC stock (2.375" OD). The form lengths provided include 1" beyond each side of the coiled coax. All traps are close wound and should be tight, to ensure mechanical stability.

The traps in the table are designed for the approximate center of each band. Traps are normally designed for the for the low

of Turns
3.750 2.375" (60 mm) 5-5/8" (143.0 mm) 119-3/4" (3040.1 mm) 14.01 102-3/8" (2599.7 mm)
7.150 2.375" (60 mm) 4-1/8" (106.1 mm) 68-7/8" (1748.8 mm) 8.00 58-7/8" (1495.9 mm)
10.075 2.375" (60 mm) 3-3/4" (93.8 mm) 52" (1320.5 mm) 6.01 44-1/2" (1129.8 mm)
14.175 2.375" (60 mm) 3-1/4" (81.5 mm) 39-5/8" (1007.4 mm) 4.55 34" (862.0 mm)
18.118 2.375" (60 mm) 3" (75.4 mm) 32-7/8" (833.6 mm) 3.74 28-1/8" (713.6 mm)
21.225 2.375" (60 mm) 3" (75.4 mm) 29-1/8" (739.6 mm) 3.31 24-7/8" (633.2 mm)
24.940 2.375" (60 mm) 2-3/4" (69.2 mm) 25-7/8" (655.8 mm) 2.92 22-1/8" (561.6 mm)
28.850 2.375" (60 mm) 2-3/4" (69.2 mm) 23-1/4" (589.5 mm) 2.61 19-7/8" (504.9 mm)

Coaxial Cable Trap Calculations

You could simply use the traps defined in the table, in the previous section. But this might limit some users who are trying to work with what is on hand. The calculator below allows you to create a trap using almost any available coaxial cable and coil form, within reason.

The sections that follow will calculate the physical properties for an antenna trap made from coaxial cable. It calculates Inductive Reactance (XL), Capacitive Reactance (XC), Inductance (L), and Capacitance (C) values. Plus the cutting information for the coil form, the coax, and the "Effective Length" of the trap. The "Effective Length" is the length that can be deducted from wire for the next lower band. Cutting and trimming dimensions for the coax are also included. Inputs required are coax type, coil form diameter and trap frequency.

Start by deciding which bands you would like to use and then start with the trap for the highest frequency band. This is because the highest frequency band operates as a full size dipole, whereas the wires for other bands are effectively shortened by the inclusion of one, or more, traps (Effective Length).

Note: For each design frequency you will need to make two traps. One for each side of dipole.

Coax Trap Physical Requirements

From the drop down list, select the coaxial cable you wish to use for the coax trap. "*" denotes Foam dialectric.

PVC Pipe
Pipe Size Outside Diameter
3/8" 0.675" (17.145 mm)
1/2" 0.840" (21.336 mm)
3/4" 1.050" (26.670 mm)
1" 1.315" (33.401 mm)
1-1/4" 1.660" (42.164 mm)
1-1/2" 1.900" (48.260 mm)
2" 2.375" (60.325 mm)
2-1/2" 2.875" (73.025 mm)
3" 3.50" (88.900 mm)
3-1/2" 4.0" (101.600 mm)
4" 4.50" (114.300 mm)
Manually Enter Diameter

Enter the Trap Frequency: MHz

Choose any one of the coil forms listed in the table, or select "Manually Enter Diameter" and enter you own. The form radius should not exceed the cable minimum bend radius.

Coax Trap Outputs
  • Resonant Frequency : x
  • Coaxial Cable Type : x
  • Coaxial Cable Diameter : x
  • Center Conductor Diameter : x
  • Coaxial Cable Capacitance : x
  • Coil Form Diameter : x
  • Coil Form Estimated Length : x
  • The "Coil Form Estimated Length" is calculated using the number of turns (rounded up) times the coax diameter, plus one inch for each side to attach the element supports.
  • Capacitive Reactance (XC) : x
  • Capacitance (C) : x
  • Inductive Reactance (XL) : x
  • Inductance (L) : x
  • Number of Turns : x
  • Close-Wound Coil Length : x
  • Length of Untrimmed Coax : x
  • Trimmed Shield Length : x
  • Inner Conductor, "in" End : x
  • Inner Conductor, "out" End : x
  • Length-to-Diameter Ratio : x
  • Effective Length : x
  • The Length-to-Diameter Ratio should be between 0.4:1 and 2:1. The optimum band width of the coils is achieved when the Length-to-Diameter Ratio is 0.45.
  • The Effective Length is the estimated amount that the next-lower-frequency leg of the trap antenna must be shortened to obtain resonance.
Coaxial Cable Trap Construction
  • Prepare the Coil Form - The drawing on the right, Fig. 4, shows the form used for winding the Coax Trap. The coil form in the drawing is shown as split, to indicate an indefinite length. But it's also to indicate that the ends may also be rotated from each other. The number of turns may not be exactly an integer number of turns. The dimensions are brought down from the previous section, Coax Trap Outputs and shows the Coil Form and a Support Strip.

    The Support Strip is made from a section of PVC pipe, cut length wise into four parts. The Coil Form and Support Strip are curved but one should fit into the other without a problem. In the drawing, the Support Strip looks to be about 1 inch wide, but the actual width is not important. The strip provides some extra support for the form and makes it a little easier to wire and connect to.

    In Fig. 4, I show 1/4-20 hardware used on the support strip and 6-32 hardware used to secure the coil form to the support strip. Use whatever hardware that is conveinent to you. To secure the coil form to the support strip I use a 6-32 screw, nut, washer, and solder lug. The solder lug is on the inside, where I attach the wire from the coil. I then loop a short wire to the 1/4-20 hardware.

    The intent is that, a length of coax, longer than is required for the actual trap, is used as a sample winding to determine the exact position of the second coax hole. Wind the necessary number of turns, like 6.5 turns, and mark the position of the second coax hole. I start by preparing the coil form and the support strip.

  • Prepare the Coax - Fig. 5, below, is a cutting diagram for the coax. As with the previous drawing, the calculations are brought down from the previous section. The estimated coil form length is calculated by rounding up the number of turns to the nearest whole turn. Then I multiply that number by the coax diameter. To account for the support holes, I add 2 inches. For the trap listed above, the number of turns, rounded up to the nearest whole turn, is x and the coax diameter is x. After adding another 2 inches, the estimated length of the coil form is approximately x.

    Start by measuring and cutting a section of coax as specified in Fig. 5 listed as Length of Untrimmed Coax. Then carefully remove the jacket as specified in the drawing as Trimmed Shield Length. Note that the "In" end and the "Out" end are different lengths. The reason is due to the wiring of the trap. The center conductor on the In is wired over to the Out end shield. This provides the space necessary to accomplish the wiring.

  • Personally, I just cut all of the forms to around 6 inches and then trim them down after the trap is wound. - K7MEM

  1. Using the Coil Form Diagram as a reference, drill a hole approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the left end of the form. The hole diameter should be sized to the diameter of the coax, which in this case is x
  2. Strip 3 inches (7.6 cm) of insulation off one end of the coax, and separate the shield and center conductor.
  3. Strip 2 inches (5 cm) of insulation off the center conductor. Insert this end of the coax into the hole drilled in the PVC form until the coax jacket extends into the inside of the form no more than 1/4" (0.6 cm).
  4. Very tightly wrap the coax around the form the specified number of turns and locate the point where the coiled coax should end. Mark this spot.
  5. Move the coax end away, and drill a second hole at the marked location as near as possible to the next turn of the coil without cutting the jacket.
  6. Tightly rewrap the coil to take up the slack that may have been introduced, and mark the end of the coax 0.25 inches (0.6 cm) beyond the hole just drilled.
  7. With a sharp knife cut approximately half way through the jacket material only, then completely around the coax at this location.
  8. In a similar fashion make a cut lengthwise along the cable from the first cut to the end of the coax. Do not remove the jacket material at this point. Again tightly rewind the coil and insert the prepared end of the coax through the second hole.
  9. Pull the coax from the inside of the form until it lies flat at both ends. (Some massaging of the end of the coax where it passes into the form may be required.) The jacket may be easily removed from the coax at this point and shield and center conductor separated.
  10. Remove all but about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of insulation from the center conductor. Twist together the center conductor of one side and the shield of the opposite side. This connection should be internal to the coil form and tightly twisted to keep the leads as short as possible.
  11. Cut off all but 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) and solder this connection.
  12. Drill a hole 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) from each end and on the same side of the form. These holes are used to support the elements then used in a dipole or wire vertical.
  13. Wrap a turn or two of the remaining end of the center conductor through the hole on its end of the form, and do likewise with the remaining end of the shield through the opposite hole.

This program is based on the Ham Calc Program called "COAXTRAP.BAS - Antenna Trap Design", written by George Murphy, VE3ERP. George Murphy's program was an adaptation of a program by Larry East, W1HUE, as it appears in the ARRL Antenna Compendium, Volume 2, page 100.

I also gleaned some information for this page from a article in the October 1981 issue of Ham Radio Magazine, named "Trapping the Mysteries of Trap Antennas" by Gary E. O'Neal, N3GO.