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SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review

Michael S. Higgins (K6AER) on December 4, 2005
View comments about this article!

This is the two year plus product review of the SteppIR four element antenna. The antenna I own was the first unit built (S/N 001) and I put it up in September 2003. The performance has been flawless. My previous antenna was a TH-7DX. One of the first things I noticed was how quiet the SteppIR antenna was. The elements are not electrically connected to the boom and as a result, ďPĒ static noise is greatly reduced.

During the last 27 months the antenna has been through dozens of ice storms, hundreds of hail storms and everyday UV radiation at the 7000 foot level here in Colorado. The fiberglass elements are still smooth and shinny and show no signs of derogation from UV radiation. Antenna strength is one of the best aspects in this design. Last year a tornado came through the ranch and the antenna did fine in the 100 MPH winds and I might add faring much better than my roof. We have two chicken hawks who like to roust on the elements and they weigh about 10 lbs each. One day I came out and looked up and they were about 10 feet out on one side of the element. The tip of the element was pointed to the ground at a 45 degree angle. When they left, it popped right back up. Had that been my old TH-7DX the element would have stayed bent.

The antenna has been struck by lightning three times and with no damage other than a little scorching on the boom. I use MOV's at the base of the tower for the control and rotor lines and PolyPhasers for the RF cables. These are connected to a deep ground system with a measured impedance of .4 ohms. My SteppIR is mounted atop a 105 foot guyed tower and all the guy stanchions are grounded.

As you might guess, having the first antenna in the area, other hams had me installing their SteppIR's. To date I have installed 4-four elements and 2-three elements as well as two of the BIG SteppIR beam antennas that cover 40-6 meters. The kits were always complete with no missing hardware. Each one built, performed the same and to specifications. It takes about 5 hours for the four element assembly and three hours for the three element antenna. The Monster SteppIR beam takes about 14 hours to build and you need a large space for the task. Putting up the antenna is best done with a crane. You can put up the 20 meter 3 and 4 element antenna with a Jin pole.

One installation had a Crushcraft 40 meter two element beam eight feet above the 20-6 meter antenna. There was some interaction between the two and I had to reconfigure via the controller the element lengths. No problem and the antenna performed as expected.

The 20 meter 4 element antenna is made from 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum with a massive 12 by 12 by Ĺ mast plate. Because the antenna has most of its weight in the boom it turns about 10 degrees a second with only a Yaesu 800 series rotor. A PolyStrand truss is used to support the massive 32 foot boom. My antenna is 250 feet from the shack and the 28 volt power supply runs the stepper motors just fine. Should you have a longer run to you antennas they have a higher voltage 33 volt power supply to make up for IR losses.

At first I though the ability to change the antenna direction, electrically 180 degrees, was a neat feature but not that necessary. I was wrong. In Colorado I use 180 degree and the Bi-Directional features all the time saving much wear and tear on my rotor.

To date I have worked 234 countries on 20, about 120 countries on 10 and I might add at the bottom of the sun spot cycle. Working DX with this antenna is like hunting with a 7mm magnum. Point, shoot, bag and tag. Many times I have called CQ on what would be described as a dead band only to have DX come out of the wood work. The most heard comment is about raw signal strength. The antenna is very efficient with the side lobes down 35 dB and the beam width about 60 degrees at the 3 dB points. Even a margional HF transceiver will be much relieved having this ahead of the front end. I run 7/8 heliax from the station to the tower top to keep losses on 6 meters at a minimum. Needles to say at HF frequencies the losses are minimal.

Front-to-back is about 25 dB for 20-15 meters and about 17 dB for 12 and 10 meters. I have the extra elements for 6 meters giving me about 13 dBi of gain with six elements. VSWR is almost zero on all bands. If I see some, just a touch of the frequency button will eliminate the reflected power. At first I hooked the controller to automatically track the transceiver but the bandwidth of the antenna is very broad and I no longer use that feature.

I had looked at this antenna design for several years before I bought the antenna. Being able to adjust the element length seems to solve the age old problem of VSWR bandwidth vs. gain vs. front-to-back performance. I wanted to give Fluid Motion, some time to work out the bugs and mechanicals. I need not have worried. In the last two years I have talked with owners of the first units as well as new owners and they have all had nothing but praise for the factory support, design, operation and the professional manor of the crew at Fluid Motion. Their support has always been top drawer and they did not credit my credit card until after the antenna had shipped. Now for an antenna manufacture that's refreshing.

Member Comments:
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SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by G3RZP on December 4, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I put mine up last April. Some points:

the truss cable is only just long enough. Be careful where you cut.

the eye bolts and turnbuckles are galvanised, not stainless. I gave them a good coat of cold galvanising spray, but had I had more time, I would have got stainless.

all the parts were there - nice change!

one (and only one) of the fibreglass tubes wouldn't fit until it been sanded down by hand - hard work.

I put ferrite sleeves on the feed to each motor and to the controller to avoid problems when using the tower as a vertical on 80 and 160. Seems to work, but contrary to expectations, extending or retracting the elements doesn't make any difference to the tuning of the tower on the LF bands.

For some reason (and the guys at Fluid Motion couldn't explain it) the lowest SWR on 20 is with the antenna tuned low by about 200kHz. The other bands are fine.

It works really well. I have it at 62 feet: it replaced a 5 ele monobander at that height and works at least as well, if not better.

I'm very pleased with its performance, and figure it was good value. Of course, the weakness of the dollar helped in that respect....
SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by VK2GWK on December 4, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
My 3-el SteppiR has been up just over 12 months now. Excellent antenna and a great improvement over my previous 3 el. Fritzel tribander (FB33). No problems putting the antenna up - all parts were there and very clear instructions. One little problem because of a short in the control cable was solved by SteppiR immediatlely by sending me a new control board.

In the current version of the control unit there is no protection against shorts to ground in the control cable. Shorts between leads to the stepper motors are protected in the circuitry in the driver chip (check the data sheet) but shorts between driver leads and ground cause a blow out. So I insulated the ground system galvanically from the driver leads: 3K ohm resistor, parallel to a 10 nF capacitor and a (mercury based) surge arrestor instead of a direct galvanic connection between the control cable shield and the control unit chassis prevent damage caused by cable shorts.

Other than that - no worries! Best antenna I ever had.

Some people seem to be worried about the durability of the antenna. Will the stepper motors wear out, how about the fiber glass elements, what when lighting strikes?

IMHO the antenna is constructed from a great many components that are -each by itself - relatively cheap. A stepper motor, a fiber glass tube, a piece of aluminium boom... and so on.
Each of these component are cheap and easy to replace (at least by amateurs that are a little above the appliance operator level) So if anything goes wrong or wears out through time. Well replace it.... Keeps you in shape.... :)
SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by HA5RXZ on December 4, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
An interesting review, and it's nice to see some good comments about a manufacturer for a change. I first saw the SteppIR system at Friedrichshafen this year and it's such a unique concept that they deserve to succeed just for discovering it.

I'm seriously considering purchasing one of their vertical antennas, would anyone who has obtained one care to add to this review?

RE: SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by K6AER on December 4, 2005 Mail this to a friend!

I also have the big SteppIR vertical for 40-6 meters. I have it mounted on my horse barn which is with a 40-60 foot metal roof. Ground plane is not a problem. When I first got the antenna I mounted the antenna with a DX engineering radial plate and 120 radials. The antenna works best when mounted in the clear. I had some interference problems where I mounted the antenna and it was a bit close to the house and was picking up interference from all the microprocessor devices in the house, so I move it to my barn 100 yards from the house. This is the case with any vertical.

Installation is very quick and with ground mounting you must have a three foot stake in the ground for mounting. VSWR is very flat on all bands. Six meter performance is compromised with ground mounting and if Six meters is you band I would recommend elevated mounting.

I use the vertical mostly for 20-40 meters. Gain difference between my 4 element SteppIR at 105 feet and the vertical is about 20 dB on 20 and 15 meters. The controller line is over 350 feet and I am using a 28 volt power supply. No problems controlling the unit. All control wires and RF cables are protected with surge protectors at the base of the barn. The antenna is fed with LMR-400.

The antenna has withstood 100 plus winds with no problem. A great antenna and highly recommended if you can only have one antenna and it can not be a beam.
RE: SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by K3AN on December 4, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
And the reason this is in the Articles section instead of the Reviews section is?

Surely it's not one of those new forms of "Gonzo Marketing" (product placement in movies or TV shows, thinly disguised blogs about a product, etc.) I've been hearing about.

I could wax eloquent with multiple paragraphs about my wonderful MFJ antenna tuner, or the QSL cards I recently bought. Would Eham accept and print such an article?
RE: SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by K6AER on December 4, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
The SteppIR has been a very controversial and revolutionary antenna with much discussion regarding the use of mechanicals in its design and the long tern reliability with this product. The antenna design is a very large departure from what has been the engineering mainstay for the last 40 years in Yagi design.

Many folks who never go to the products area of E-Ham have wondered about the long term reliability of this antenna design and I though it would be good to post it here for all to see. To my knowledge their have been no such concerns regarding new technology in QSL cards and MFJ antenna tuners and other day to day equipment items we take for granted. Given some of the subject postings, I donít find this subject out of bounds for the article section.
RE: SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by W9OY on December 4, 2005 Mail this to a friend!

just to make this topic legit for the article section

1. I'm for keeping the code.

2. I wish I had a SteppIR, especially the big one.

3. Thanks for the update.

73 W9OY

RE: SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by K3AN on December 4, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Mike, you're right. The Articles section really does cover the waterfront, and yours is certainly not the first review article to be published there.

You may want to add your article (or maybe an abridged version) to the 13 existing SteppIR reviews in the Product Reviews section. The reason is that down the road it will be easier for someone to find it there as opposed to searching through the Articles archive. I can still find a transceiver review I wrote there in 1999, so that section has much more "permanence."
RE: SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by N6AJR on December 4, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I thinks its proper for it to be here, as I get lots of discussions on the fact I have a steppir too. Mine is a 3 ele , 6 to 20 m one.

I actually bought mine used. I reassembled it and my friends put it up for me. we through bolted a small eye bolt at the top of the mast and used that like a gin pole to pull the completed antenna up. It is on a create roof tower (15 feet) on the roof ( 18 feet) at the legal limit here ( ccr's) of 38 feet.

I too have an anomoly on 20 meters , in some directions I have to tune it 300 high to be flat, but that is probably when pointing at the MA5B or the Gap Voyager, that causes that. It works fine , I love a resonant antenna.

mine has been up about a year here, ( northern california , very windy 70 mph some times or more) and it is doing fine. I needed some parts when I first put it up, ( the amalgating tape and a couple of clamps) from steppir and they were super. Thoses are some nice folks up there and the young lady in sales knows more about the steppir than I do. nice to call a company, get treated well and stuff mailed out that day. great folks. and they answer the phone..

so my only complaint on the steppir is that I don't have room for the 40 meter 4 element here at the house.

I saw that set up at visilia this year on a 107 foot tower trailer, and there was little puddles of drool all around it on the ground.. nice setup. but the 40 meter is like 75 feet across the wings, it won't fit on my lot..

good antenna, good folks, great service, and it works. when I first put it up and tuned it on 20 meters, barefoot ( 100watts ) and hollered cq, the first guy that came back to me was a fellow in japan, hundred watts, mobile on a ham-stick on his toyota.. I kind of figured from that that it was working just fine.

I have up-graded the station now to an orion, and alpha 87 a and the steppir. Wow, I done died and gone to heaven..

good job, fluid motion.

tom N6AJR
SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by AH6FC on December 4, 2005 Mail this to a friend!

Nice article, thanks for placing it here!

Did you mention how high your antenna is up in the air?

Thanks again.


Bill, AH6FC
SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by WB6MYL on December 4, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
The operative word is "review"; The "article" is full of valuable information for one contemplating buying this antenna and those already owning it, but it is still a review and nothing more; the author's follow-up position is "I put it here to invite comments and discussion"; such fodder could invite discussion in the "Reviews" section, as well.; Eham must be "hard up" for articles as this invites abuse and advertising "plants" from agents and employees of manufacturers. This is nothing new for this section; many months ago a Bob Heil "stooge" wrote an "aticle" about the PR mic that "Bob Heil asked him to try" and Eham printed the article and worst, allowed it to stay. Rhetorically, should I consider a ten year review article on my Icom 970 or a thirty year review on my Collins 75S3B?!? Can't blame the author for trying but who at Eham is allowing this to happen?!? Considering world events, this is not a big issue, but I thought I would "add a comment".Respectfully submitted for your consideration, if not edification. Sincerely, Phillip W. Harris, PhD.J.D.P.C.
RE: SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by N6AJR on December 4, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I think its as good as most articles.. this is internet for the ham.. so most anything goes.. and I don't usually check the reviews, because they are either "this must be wonderful because I spent big bucks for it" or " this is a piece of garbage because they said it would help me do everything and I still cant get out on my 1 watt 160 rig."

so I perfer someone who has it in this type of form, and as I buy sell and own a lot of stuff, I think this is a good article for Eham to post, besides I have one so what else can I say...:)

now go build a fan dipole and get some dx..
SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by N4UE on December 4, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Mike, I really enjoyed reading your article. Don't be concerned about the 'old ladies', who complained. People just LOVE to find something to complain about!

I am a retired EE and work at the local Sears, around 20 hrs a week (radio money + discounts!). These complainers remind me of a few customers we had last Saturday. We had a big sale and the first 200 people through the door, got a gift card for $10 off any purchase, PLUS 10% off from 8 to 10 AM.
One old geezer walked in the door and the Store Manager tried to give him a gift card. "I don't want that da-- thing!" he bellowed. He bought something for $8 and left. It would have been free if he wasn't such a Jerk!. Another old far-, took the card, looked around for about and hour and handed the Manager the card back, She said: "sir, we have LOTS of nice items on sale for less than $10, so they would be FREE". "Nuttin I need", he stated. Wierd! We had some nice Craftsman DVMs on sale for $9.99.....

Pretty bad when you can't GIVE things away!

Just take the negative comments in the same light.

Keep up the good feedback!



I have been eyeballing this fine antenna and if finances will allow, it seems like a nice upgrade , once I get my towers up.
SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by WB4PAP on December 4, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Boy I love my Hexbeam,

I was able to lift it into position on my 40' tower with one hand. I have a Red Tailed Hawk that sits on it every night and in doesn't droop at all! It's been through 4 hurricanes in the last two years and I was operating during all of them through the storms reporting to the Hurricane Watch Net rotating the antenna as needed in 125 mph winds with a generator for 12 hours at a time. Never missed a lick!

I think the SteppIR is a great antenna! The guy's running them and Hexbeam owners are usually the only other stations I can talk too when the bands are shutting down for the evening. All kidding aside though, nothing is going to last forever. And when motors, metals and electronics are in the equasion it's just a matter of time. I personally prefer non-moving parts on my antennas. As a matter of fact, nothing was moving on my Hexbeam when my wind speed indicator read 125 mph except my rotator. And I don't have to retract my elements during thunderstorms either. And last but not least, when my house blows down and I need temporary shelter, I take it down off the tower, turn it upside down and I now have a 18' umbrella. Try that with a SteppIR!


RE: SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by K5UJ on December 5, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
this belongs in the reviews. It's a review. no amount of weedling justification can change that. the reason this is a problem is the blurring of categories leads to a precedent. We already have editorial screeds on one topic or another trying to pass as reviews in the review section. Usually when they are found, they get taken out. But now, we have a great deal of attention given to one product up front and center in the article section. When was the last time you saw a "product review" type article leading off in QST or CQ? How about a 60 minutes segment promoting a product? If eHam wants to go the infomertial route, that's fine, however I hope they at least play fair and give this special treatment to other fine products out there and from what I have heard, the SteppIR yagi is a fine product.
RE: SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by KA2FIR on December 5, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Enjoyed the article Mike and QSO'ing with you when you first got it on the air. Hope to have a 3El soon.


SteppIR Big R- Vertical  
by K8JRF on December 5, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I ordered a big vertical from Steppr on September 15/05. When I ordered it I was told that they where in the process of making some at the present time and it would ship in about 3 weeks, so I told them to send it as soon as possible.
Five weeks later on Tuesday I again called and I wads told that some parts that was needed to complete my antenna and they would ship it on Friday as my name is the next on to get it.
Four weeks later I again called and asked when it was going to ship, at that time i was told that it would ship in 30 days.
I told them to cancel the order since they can't manage there business any better than they have with my order.
Push up mast?  
by WA5ZNU on December 5, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Does anybody a SteppIR mounted on a push-up mast?
I've read that the SpiderBeam people can do this.
RE: Push up mast?  
by WB2WIK on December 5, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article, Mike.

Your SteppIR always produces a good signal.

But, can it make the MUF climb back up to above 14 MHz after dark? Bands have been kinda crappy up there lately, by the time I get home from work...

As for the SteppIR yagi on a push-up mast, I think that would have an EOL* of "until the wind blows."

(*EOL = Estimated Operating Life)

RE: Push up mast?  
by N4GI on December 5, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
<<<I've read that the SpiderBeam people can do this.>>>

They can, but only if you feed them after midnight, or get them wet.

Blake N4GI

SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by RobertKoernerExAE7G on December 6, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Did not have any idea you were running processing Mike.

The only other ham I have heard with great audio, who runs a lot of processing, has been Father And Mother. Do not remember if he is W8 or K8.

SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by KE4KVW on December 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Well I have NEVER owned either of the antenas but hear lots of them on the air. I do NOT think SWR is the biggest factor by far since I saw an OAK TREE tuned to have "ZERO" SWR's & it did NOT get out across the road!It seems to me while listening to some stations using the SteppIR's that the antennas get out equally in ALL directions on transmit since when those stations change directions on the antenna by turning them or electronically the signal does NOT seem to change.I have ask the NICE folks at SteppIR SEVERAL times for E & H plane numbers but they said I was the FIRST person whom EVER ask for those figures & they do NOT have them!I find it hard to believe that IF they did testing of the antennas that E & H plane numbers did NOT come into the figures SOMEWHERE!In fairness I will say,EVERYONE I know who has ANY of the antennas is VERY happy with it,but if I spent that kind of money for one I would tell you I LOVED it as well!I have heard only a few complaining about parts in the controler burning out several times but the parts were sent at NO charge with the owner making the needed repairs.If anyone knows the E & H plane figures PLEASE share them with me since I do know several others whom would like them as well & I can share them with them also.I will also share them wth SteppIR so they have them in the future for folks asking a SIMPLE question.I am GLAD for those who have them & are happy with them but I do NOT want ANY moving parts on my antennas here!73's & God bless,ClaytonKE4KVW
RE: SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by K6AER on December 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
E and H plane polar plots are easy to come by using modeling. I talked with Mike at SteppIR and all the antennas have been H plane tested including antennas made by other manufactures at their far field range in Moses Lake, Washington. In 45 years of HF operation I have never seen a HF Yagi manufacture publish the E Plane pattern.

In order to empirically test a large array, with out ground effects in the E plane, the tower would have to be many many wavelengths tall in order to remove ground reflection. To practically test the beam, it would have to be placed in the vertical plane. Rotation would be difficult and to accomplish this feat the antenna would have to be placed in the vertical position and in front of the tower to reduce tower reflection and interaction. This is impractical and is of little use for most HF beams are mounted under 160 feet from the ground and the resulting E plane pattern would not be representative of the beam mounted in free space. Vertical E plane ground reflection, with the antenna mounted in the horizontal plane, will have more effect in take off pattern than the antenna design. Your E plane pattern will be a result of the gain and varies very little with antennas of the same gain.

The E plane pattern of the antenna would be about the same as any 4 element beam. Little can be done to compress the E-plane pattern with out increasing gain. Antenna gain is mostly a function of boom length and less a function of how many elements.

There have been times when I wanted a broader vertical pattern, working stations that were under 500 miles from my QTH. Normally you would crank down the tower and make use of ground phase reflection but my antenna is mounted on a guyed tower at 105 feet. In that case I retract the two directors and use the antenna as a two element beam. The broader E plane gives me a higher angle of take off on half of my signal. Most of the time (99%) I leave it in the four element mode.
RE: SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by WA1RNE on December 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
When they develop a version that's capable of varying element spacing as well as length, I'll be a little more interested.

It is a great concept but still a compromise in terms of element spacing - similar to a tribander but without the losses inherent in some traps.

73, Chris
RE: SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by K6AER on December 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!

When you can adjust the individual element length the element spacing no longer becomes critical. Yagi design has always been a balance between SWR Bandwidth, Gain and Front to Back with the greatest concern on VSWR Bandwidth. Manufactures have gone to great lengths to increase VSWR Bandwidth through the use of log periodic feeds, multi-element capacitive designs and massive large arrays with up to 15 elements to provide 6 dB of gain on three to five bands. The end result is mediocre gain on some bands, poor front to back ratios on other bands and massive weight and wind loading in the design. In addition even though none resonate elements may not be active on a particular band there is still interaction and scattering of the E-Plane (vertical) wave form that reduces gain and reduces DX efficiency by placing antenna gain in high takeoff angles. This is why most DXerís chose a monoband antenna over a multiband antenna.

You can work DX with any piece of wire that is not buried when the band is good. Many times I read about antidotal antenna performance and it means nothing unless compared to another antenna. One gage of performance I do notice is what antennas are being used when the band has gone dead and the QSOís continues or pileups are being busted in the heat of DX battle. There mostly monobanders and SteppIRís.

Todayís temperature in Colorado is -13 degrees and the SteppIR is working marvelously.
SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by KD7QX on December 12, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
It is nearly inconceivable that a chicken hawk, or more accurately a Cooper's Hawk, would weigh more than about 1.5 pounds. The largest of North American predatory birds, the eagles, average about 10 pounds. I would in no way want to comment on the strength of this antenna, or the birding acumen of the author, but either the weight or the species of the birds perching on the antenna is suspect.

For data on both birds see
RE: SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by GILLIAM_LINEBERRY_EX_N4VOX on December 12, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
some jerk phd with nothing to contribute just wrote about nothing that is being discussed. I appreciate the information that owners of the Steppir are posting as I may well buy one. Gill
RE: SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by WA1RNE on December 12, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"When you can adjust the individual element length the element spacing no longer becomes critical."

"Yagi design has always been a balance between SWR Bandwidth, Gain and Front to Back with the greatest concern on VSWR Bandwidth."


I, along with others over the past 70 years wish what you're saying is all there is to it, but that's clearly not the case.

Element spacing is indeed a critical design parameter.

Another critical parameter is element diameter vs. frequency or wavelength.

Appreciable changes in either paramater creates significant performance changes on yagi performance.

For good practical reference, I refer you to an excellent article written by L.B. Cebik, W4RNL, called "Modeling Yagi's by Equation". The performance of these 3 element yagi's essentially meet the performance claims for the 4 element Steppir you're using.

But for this discussion, just look at the spacing differences for 2 configurations: Best Front to Back ratio and Best Gain.

Spacing in feet is shown Reflector to Driven element / Driven element to Director

*Best Front to Back;

approx. spacing (wavelength) = 0.15/0.15

*Best Gain

approx. spacing (wavelength) = 0.17/0.35

Now think about the difference in spacing required for a 3 element 20 meter monobander vs. a 10 meter 3 element monobander for these 2 configurations using Cebik's references and scaling from one band to the other:

> Best F/B ratio:

20 meters: 10.5'/10.5'

10 meters: 5.25'/5.25'

>Best Gain:

20 meters: 12'/24.6'

10 meters: 6'/12.25'

>>> The difference in the required element spacing (and element diameters) between bands is over 2 to 1 - with optimized element lengths for each configuration.

I've seen the design details and specs for the Steppir and it does provide very good broadband performance using a truely innovative concept.

Whether I believe ALL the performance claims in their entirety is another matter.

But that's my opinion and I make the statement without intending to rain on your parade. I highly doubt that would matter anyway; you're obviously satisfied with it's performance and quality which is what counts.

73, Chris
SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by N3DRK on December 12, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I find many of the comments by the author suspect.

K6AER said:

" During the last 27 months the antenna has been through dozens of ice storms, hundreds of hail storms and everyday UV radiation at the 7000 foot level here in Colorado."

I do not know why anyone would want to live in an area like that. Conditions are better in Antarctica.

"We have two chicken hawks who like to roust on the elements and they weigh about 10 lbs each. One day I came out and looked up and they were about 10 feet out on one side of the element. The tip of the element was pointed to the ground at a 45 degree angle. When they left, it popped right back up. Had that been my old TH-7DX the element would have stayed bent."

I am a licensed falconer who has trained cooper hawks (chicken hawks) which weigh less than 3 pounds looking much bigger due to the fluffing of their feathers. I have a TH6DXX and one morning I came out and a turkey was sitting on the rear element and flew off and the element went back to its original shape immediately. In fact 3 years ago we had an ice storm and 1/2 inch accumulated on the elements and for 3 days the elements were at a 50 degree angle toward the ground. But when the ice melted they went back to their original state and the antenna continues to work fine.

" The kits were always complete with no missing hardware."

One would think there should be NO missing parts.

"To date I have worked 234 countries on 20, about 120 countries on 10 and I might add at the bottom of the sun spot cycle. Working DX with this antenna is like hunting with a 7mm magnum."

I worked 268 countries with the MFJ-1798 10 band vertical. Also the countries worked by K6AER were not
worked at the bottom of the sunspot cycle. We have not arrived there yet. The bottom of the present cycle is not until next year and conditions have been very good the past three years. Even this past month 15 and 10 meters have been showing some great openings on these bands.

I can understand Mikes enthusiasm with his newly purchased Stepp antenna. But more objectivity should
be shown. The true test of this antenna will be another 5 years or more. I would like to see the results at that time with all the motors and moving parts within the elements with the condensation buildup over the years. I do hope all continues to go well since I may purchase one in 5 years.


RE: SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by KD7QX on December 13, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
K6AER wrote an excellent article about an antenna he likes. Part of his article praised the strength of the antenna by saying that it held the weight of two 10 pound birds on one end of an element without apparent damage. If his identification of the birds is correct then his weight statement is not. N4VOX is incorrect in stating that my comment was irrelevant; the weight supporting ability of the antenna was a point made in the original article and I sought to clarify or correct it.

N4VOX is also incorrect in assuming that I have a PhD and that I am a jerk. I'm a fairly average guy who happens to enjoy both ham radio and birding. I also value accuracy, and was merely trying to set the record a little more straight.
SteppIR 4-Element Beam Two-Year Review  
by NK6R on December 13, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I just got my 4 element up a month ago and the first thing I have to get used to is hearing from other stations is their disbelief that I was only running 100W! In addition I get comments like: "You're the first station I have heard from the states", or "Are you parked down the street?". There are many more positive statements I could make and the company support is at least as good as the antenna performance - EXCELLENT!

If you are at all in the slightest chance of considering this antenna, any of their models, you will be simply amazed. I chose the 4 element since I do 6 meter weak signal work and wanted the 6 element on a 32" boom performance. I live where coastal moisture can be thick at times and having sealed, protected elements shows up in the order of perfect tuning and performance in rain , shine, or thick fog. I have observed 6 to 8 S-units (36~48dB F/B) over and over again on 20M and 17M. The RF in the shack has reduced to nearly non existant, and I am sitting 40' below the SteppIR. Simply an amazing antenna design - get one and be done with all the other maintenance issues and interactions that come with multi-band-trapped antennas. See you on the bands!!
Interesting concept, but..  
by WB4M on December 13, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I read articles in which owners heap mounds of praise on the SteppIR antenna. As an owner of a Hygain TH7DX, which supports the weight of birds, I had toyed with the idea of obtaining an antenna that would give me directional capabilities on the 12 and 17 meter bands. Being a believer in more metal in the air is better, I looked at the 4-element SteppIR beam. But for dang near $2,000?? I found I can stack 2 logs and have as much gain, no moving parts, instant band changes, and spend less money. I'm sure they are good antennas, but I still have reservations about moving parts and small wires at 75 feet.
RE: Interesting concept, but..  
by N3DRK on December 15, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
On other thing I did not mention. In regards to the authors statement of the dx he has worked and his negative comments about the TH7DXX. The steppIr, this person is using, has an 18 foot boom and the TH7DXX has a boom length of 24 feet. There is no way that the steppIr can outperform the TH7DXX since Gain is a product of Boom Length. The longer the length of the boom, to a point, the greater the gain of the receive and transmit signal.
RE: Interesting concept, but..  
by K6AER on December 15, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
The boom length on the SteppIR 4 element is 32 feet. My previous antenna was a TH-7DX and their was no comparison, The steppir greatly outperforms the TH7-DX. The performance of the 4 element SteppIR speaks for itís self. To date over 2000 SteppIRís have been sold. This does not happen by accident. In the last two years I have seen the two other major HF beam manufactures greatly cut back their presence in Dayton and this can be only attributed a reduction of sales. The direct result of SteppIR sales is the glut of used TH7ís & 11ís, Optabeams, M2ís and other hardware hitting the used market. This hurts the competitions new sales and they are suffering. As for the cost of the antenna what is the cost of 5 mono band beams? Much higher than the cost of the SteppIR.

Yes you can work many countries on a vertical but when the DX fray gets going the verticals, dipoles and G5RVís have to wait.
RE: Interesting concept, but..  
by N6AJR on December 17, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
the biggest trick on the steppir is that it is resonant.

take a 2 meter mag mount, hook it to an MFJ 259, and switch it to the 2 meter band. get a field strength meter and set it where you can see it near the 2 meter antenna.

run the freq on the mfj 259 from 119 mhz up the scale. you will see the FSM sits at 0. as you get the mfj to up around 142 mhz or so the field strength meter will start to rise, and peak at about 146 mhz then drop off again at 148 mhz and go back to 0 up to the top end at 174 mhz.

now the mfj 259 is putting out a constant rf signal of a couple of miliwatts. as the signal reaches the resonance of the antenna it transfers more signal to the atmosphere, aether or what ever you call it.( free space?) if you used an aircraft freq antenna, it would peak at 118 mhz.

this little demonstration shows the secret of the steppir. when the antenna is resonant, it works better.

now even with stacked log periodic, you only get a compromise match, a couple of elements sort of resonant, with lots of near by aluminum in the field, and perhaps this is also effective.

but most fixed antennas have a sweet spot, where they are close to resonance and the swr and their effectivness goes down hill from there.

I like mine. it works and works well..

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