so Woz notes that nobody teaches non-standard antenna design, even though it’s a really fascinating field. The other day, Jake showed me this really sweet antenna he made, which I’m still trying to fully understand:
It’s a piece of coax where the shield is broken in the middle, but soldered to the core at both ends. The end closest to the connector has a thick coil of wire wrapped around it, and is soldered to the bnc connector on one end, and the nearest shield on the other. I think it’s a totally mind-boggling design, and what intuition I gained from taking [most of] 6.002 (intro circuits) at MIT gives me little sense of how to model it. I think it’s.. kind of like a tank circuit if you think of the coax bit like a loop with a break in it, where the shielded bits that don’t connect are kind of like the capacitance you get from the ends of the loop. But that’s definitely not the whole story, and I don’t even know where to start with the coil of wire.
Folks call antenna design “black magic”, but Woz suggest that that just means there’s more to know, and not teaching alternative antenna design is one reason we don’t know more. One way to know that sticking to the principles of symmetry isn’t the whole story — these guys from NASA made totally reasonable antennas by making a computer try different ways of bending paperclips.