The Best Laid (antenna) Plans . . .

I’m in for a good whuppin’ from the Peanut Gallery, but here is where I am at now. One Wellbrook ALA1530LNP has been up a year, the second added this past winter, and when phased using the DX Engineering NCC-2 finally gives me what I had hoped for when I started trying to come up with a great Top Band RX antenna. Luckily, with the SDRPlay RSP2Pro, this antenna system ends up living on and is a ton of fun. When I get bored of the ham bands, I can  listen on bands from DC to Daylight, so there is always something fun to do. One weird thing I do is try to listen to smaller, more local AM radio stations since these phased loops let me hear and filter out small stations that are on the same frequency as a much more powerful station. Its really amazing.

The DV-40-P 40M phased array lets me check in with ZS stations every night, which I never get tired of. I also like the morning LP grey line to ZS as well. This antenna wins the longevity award – its been up 2 years now.

The two biggest surprises – the SteppIR UrbanBeam – on the US Towers ALM-31 – has me now back in the DX Chase filling in my “DX bingo card” – and adding DXCC Band Mode slots – just having 40 – 6M at the push of a button and a rotation of the rotator – I’m surprised at the effect this has had on me – since I swore off DXCC. I won’t chase any more awards – but the LOTW credits ARE the award for me. Funny how I value data in a database much more than a plaque on the wall these days – but hey – I’ll take it! No – its no N6BT DXU-32, but its much safer and covers many more bands. I am going to try to add some 6M slots – since I now have 3 elements on that band that is actually up high enough to be a really good DX antenna.Wow – I need to look for those 6M “enthusiast” sites. That’s another big surprise – I swore off 6M in the past.

The biggest surprise is how I felt compelled to “cash in my Top Band chips” and switch to a 60′ 80M vertical. I can say with full confidence that a full sized quarter wave vertical – with a great radial field is a superb antenna. Forget about that malarky about verticals being bad radiators in all directions. 80M is the last band where you can put up a really tall vertical on a tiny lot and be a DX force. 160M is barely practical on a small lot – but 80M is a world of difference as far as that goes. I do like this 60′ 80M vertical much more than all of those compromises I had to make on 160M. Sure, two phased 80M verticals was “a bridge too far”, but I am very happy that I at least tried it. Even without the ability to A – B test, I know that this 60′ vertical on 80M is significantly better than my previous Inverted L. Not to mention – when you multi band an Inverted L – it becomes a big compromise on 80M. It was “good enough” on 160M and did get the job done – but getting rid of that horizontal component and going “straight up” is noticeably better.

Here is an interest fact – even the tallest Spiderbeam fiberglass mast (85′) is way too short on 160M, but with a very little base linear loading – their 60′ mast if a great 80M vertical support (don’t try using one of these as  top loaded support – the tip is solid and very flexible – you can’t use the tip to hold anything more than a wire taped to it as I have.

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