For the last month whilst testing my 472/500kHz transverter I've been using a highly compromised antenna. Essentially it is a very short Marconi tuned against my central heating system ground. The first 6-7m is a coax cable running next to pipes in the loft horizontally. Eventually the coax runs outside and up 5-6m to my 6m/10m halos. The coax inner and outer are strapped together when used on 500kHz. In the last week we have had a new central heating boiler fitted, this time in the loft, so there are even more copper pipes and wires running close to the coax. Reports appear to be a few dB worse on 500kHz as a result.
The time has now come to design a "no compromise" 500kHz Marconi! Looking at the geometry of my garden I should be able to erect a 5-6m vertical away from the house with some 10m of horizontal top loading. I can add some inductance near the top of the vertical section and tune it all against a reasonably decent ground (4 x 1m long earth spikes, a couple of radials and the central heating copper). Not sure how soon I can work on this but I would hope the ERP increase could be up to 6dB. At least with WSPR (and OPERA) one can do a series of tests over several days with each antenna and compare results. It will be easy to measure antenna current which gives a good indication of ERP when the antenna effective height is calculable.