I take a look at the 13th revised edition and first English translation of Rothammel’s Antenna book and compare is to the new 25th Edition of the ARRL Antenna Book. Which book stands out as the best?

Rothammels Antenna Book: https://rothammel.com/Rothammels-Antenna-Book
ARRL Antenna Book 25th Edition: https://amzn.to/3T2OQv4

Recently on the livestream we had a discussion about antenna books, specifically the Rothammel Antenna Book. This substantial tome is frequently called the antenna bible, for its comprehensive scope. Up until recently the book was only available in German, but now an english translation of the 13th edition is available. That translation opens this guide up to a whole new audience and many hams are discovering what a valuable resource it is. We’ll look inside the book in a bit, but first the specs,

Rothammels antenna book is 1600 pages, dimensions are , and it weighs about 4 pounds. The paper has a textured finish and the text is set in 10 point type. This smaller typeface can make it a bit harder to read, so get your reading glasses tuned up for it. Cost of the book is 59 euros. I ordered it online direct from the DARC, the German amateur radio association and with exchange and international shipping, my cost was $87 US dollars.

We’re going to compare that book to the American standard antenna guide, the ARRL Antenna book. The ARRL antenna book has been around since 1939 and the new 25th edition has some pretty substantial updates in it. The latest edition was released in the fall of 2023, so this is the newest guide available. This book is no slouch either, it weighs five pounds, is inches and and has 1120 pages. While the Rothammel guides paper has a duller texture, the ARRL antenna book is a smooth coated paper set in an easier to read 12 point type. The paperback edition is $69.95 and is available direct from the ARRL or from online retailers.

For full disclosure, both books were purchased by me with my own funds.

In perusing the books, you’ll spot some key differences right away, so lets open them up, take a look at the contents and talk about the information inside.

So which book is right for you. Rothammels is certainly more comprehensive with its quantity of antenna styles and variations. The content is direct and too the point. While it may not be comprehensive, it does give you the references and links so you can go off and explore.

On the other hand, the ARRL guide may not catalog such a diversity of antenna styles, the information it has is a bit deeper and well rounded. The ARRL antenna book also offers a substantial amount of electronic content to supplement the printed version and has plans and diagrams for antenna projects you can build.

One thing I’ve noticed between these two books is that the ARRL guide is more of a snapshot of what is the current trend in amateur operation. If you’ve followed past editions of this book, you’ll see content added and content taken away. If a design or style of antenna falls out of popular favor, it may be eliminated or have a diminished presence in the book. That’s one of the reasons why past editions of the antenna guide are still quite popular.

On the other hand, it feels like once an antenna makes its way into Rothammels, its pretty much there to stay. You’ll find information on antennas both old and new and there are some pretty esoteric styles that are covered in the book. Not having any experience with previous editions, as they are all printed in german, that’s my feeling in reading this revised 13th edition. From a research standpoint, this extreme depth is great as you can look up an antenna, search the citations and reference material, and go on from there.

Which may be the biggest comparison between these two books. Rothammels is a starting point, a guide to get you going on a project or antenna design, while the ARRL antenna guide is the one stop shop with theory, design, and plans.

If you are starting out on the journey to build your own antenna systems and want to know more about the theory and design, I’d add the ARRL antenna book to your library.

If you are looking for ready reference, maybe not so much a construction book, then I’d go with Rothammel. Although you can certainly build much of anything thats in the Rothammels guide. It just takes more work to put the formulas, charts, and sketches together into a working antenna. I’ve found Rothammels to be valuable in looking something up, getting a concise overview and working from there.
Final word, I think both are excellent books and both are valuable in their own regard. I own previous editions of the ARRL antenna guide and was glad when they finally came out with a new edition this last year. And I’m also glad that an english translation is available for this seminal geman antenna book. I’ll be using both in future antenna projects.

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00:00:00 Introduction
00:00:23 Rothammels Antenna Book 13th revised edition English
00:01:42 ARRL Antenna Book 25th Edition
00:03:07 Look ARRL Antenna Book 25th Edition
00: 10:40 What’s inside the Rothammels Antenna Book
00:17:51 Which is the best antenna book

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