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Author Topic: Surprising Weekend DXCC With 43 Foot Vertical  (Read 1093 times)

Posts: 2520

« on: December 01, 2008, 09:10:52 AM »

Decided to REALLY put one of those controversial 43
footers to the test. Entered the CQWW CW in the
single-op low power category. Rig was an old Kenwood
TS-850 and a DX Engineering MBVE-1 which is similar
to the ZeroFive. I had just converted my Array
Solutions balun into a unun which did seem to pep up

I didn't expect much, especially on 80 and 160.
However With excellent low band contest conditions
the antenna did work loud Europeans on 80 with
moderate effort. Logging OX5AA in rare zone 40 was a

On 160 the vertical was nearly worthless, producing
only a few painful Canadian Qs and one with the
Bahamas. Some VE3s who had to be less than 900 miles
away couldn't hear a whiff of me!
The MBVE-1 performed beautifully on 20 and 40. Using
100 watts, I shunned most pileups. Yet I logged
goodies such as 3X5, D4, 3V8, TF, ZS, 6W, T77, TA,
VK6, 5B and FR. Japanese stations often replied on
one call.

Meager 15 Meter propagation didn't provide much of an
antenna lab. DX there was weak and sparse, Still I
eventually managed to work almost everything I heard,
including several rare Africans. 10 meters wasn't
open to DX in Missouri.

Summary: Shocked to be saying that I was impressed. A
couple of times on 80 after an easy Q, I glanced at
my radio to see if I wasn't really on 40. Once after
making nearly 50 contacts in an hour on 20, I checked
that I hadn't accidentally flipped on my amp!

K0OD Preliminary Score

Band QSOs Countries
160: 6 3
80: 58 33
40: 168 71
20: 210 83
15: 52 37
10: did not attempt

Total: 494 227
(Exactly 100 different countries!)

Station: 100 watts used for all contacts. No spotting
network. Ground system: about 100 radials. Feed:
40feet of RG8 type coax into an ancient Dentron
MT-3000 tuner. Unun at vertical base.

Location: suburban St. Louis Missouri 650 feet ASL.  

Posts: 2380

« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2008, 03:30:09 PM »

That was a very nice effort, and your results put me to shame.  I used an amplifier (500-800 watts), spotting network, and a new K3, but only made about 80 QSO's.  

Worked a few new ones on 160m, and one new one on 80m with my HF-2V, top-loaded, and only about 30 radials.  I used the HF-2V to make one contact for a new one on 20m (3X5A), worked at very high swr and about 50 watts.  

Chuck  NI0C

Posts: 2520

« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2008, 05:44:01 AM »

Heard you when you beat me in a pile.

I had been unimpressed with this vertical... figured it was another in the line of "cult" must-have products. Clearly many of the glowing 43 foot vertical reviews are from new hams who think working 12 states and Puerto Rico demands a 5-star review for an antenna system that can cost $1,000, with a KW tuner, coax and radials.

Although several reviews mention working DX on one or two calls, I must have fruitlessly called 4X2M 200 times. A full weekend of competitive DXing using low power on 5 bands is a more meaninful antenna test.

Before the CQWW, I expected that I would be writing a damning review. but my score shows the MBVE-1 did well. The balun mod (per VK1OD, W8JI and others) may have helped. Or perhaps it just plays better in winter propagation.

I think I'm sitting first in the zero district for SO-LP based on early submitted scores. That's impressive for an attractive antenna that also works 60 meters, the WARC bands, and doesn't freeze up in winter or collapse when the trees sway.  

Posts: 556

« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2008, 06:34:38 AM »

I have talked myself into and out of one of the 43Ft Wonders about 3 times now. My other alternatives are a Vetical Wire about 80' tall and the MFJ-1793 which is top loaded for 80M and works on 40 & 20M. I have the room for any of these but keep coming back to the 43 footer. Your results confirmed what I thought about them on 160M but my interest is really only 40 & 80. The question I have for you (since your set up is similar to what I would have) is how much bandwidth do you have once you have tuned the antenna.  That is, if you tune up on 3.9 MHz how far can you move before you have to re-tune?  

Thanks for your efforts,
Clint - W5CPT

Posts: 2520

« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2008, 10:27:53 AM »

W5CPT asks: "if you tune up on 3.9 MHz how far can you move before you have to re-tune?"

Heck, I'd go for an 80 foot wire. Or go with an MBVE and replace a few 3' tubing sections with 6' ones to take it to 50 feet or more. You'd need guying.

43' is almost worthless on 160 and only passable on 80 without a base matching network or some top hat. Don't be deceived by my contest score. 80 was usually a tough slog on a weekend with superb conditions.

Just checked the bandwidth. Using the MBVE-1 and Dentron MT3000 tuner, my 2:1 points are about 65 kHz apart on 80. On 40 the whole band from 7.0 to 7.3  can be covered with an SWR under 1.5!  On 160, bandwith is only 20 kHz at 2:1 points

Mine is the fast taper model with might be a bit more narrow-banded than thicker 43 footers. But I think most hams should go with the thinner version unless extreme wind is a problem.

Posts: 1043

« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2008, 08:39:57 PM »

Do you have your antenna guyed?

I'm not thinking of it so much as a miracle antenna, but rather at one location, more as a single antenna compromise that works well enough.

What do they tell you for wind resistance?

Posts: 2520

« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2008, 07:25:23 PM »

Mine is stuck in a 4 foot section of pipe just pounded into soil. I tried to replace that with something better, but neither I nor my two sons could remove the pipe! It's not guyed either. Seems ridgid, but we've had no winds over 40 mph since I threw it up in May.

DX Engineering told me they only recommend guying. It's not mandatory. They didn't provide any wind  resistance figures. The slow taper model would have more resistance and weight.

I agree that these are sensible antennas if you know what they can and can't do. What they can't do is live up to the ridiculous hype of some reviewers.

Or I could join the mania by announcing that every one of my 494 CQWW Qs came with a 599 report!  And some DX stations were so impressed that they asked pepeatedly for my call... 5 or 6 times Smiley    

Posts: 28

« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2008, 06:07:53 PM »

K0OD said: "Seems ridgid, but we've had no winds over 40 mph since I threw it up in May."

I hope that you are feeling better soon. I am not sure what sickness makes you throw up vertical antennas but you might be able to make some money on that now the way copper and alumn. prices are. ;-)

Im sorry....... On a serious note now.

First-congrats on your success in the contest. I personally am not a fan of an all band 43 foot vertical antenna for many reasons already stated. However i am a fan of properly installed reasonate verticals.

When planning a vertical antenna, why not consider mounting it up in the air, elevated? Makes them work better because they do not have as much ground loss and they will not have as much of a problem with RF being radiated into trees and other objects. They really dont need to be that high above ground and they do not need a lot of radials to be efficient.

WB2WIK/6 wrote an EXCELLENT article about it a while back but the link escapes me now. (Please forgive me WB2WIK/6 for not asking your permission to mention your article here-i am not be sarcastic either). It is very well written and well worth the time reading.

I have 3 elevated verticals here at the shack now. I have one for 80 meters 40/15 meters and 20 meters. The 80 meter one is full size with the base at 18ft with 4 elevated radials. The 40/15 one is full size and the base is at 10 feet with 4 elevated radials. The 20 meter one has the base at 35 feet and there are 7 radials. I chase DX using CW only and i am beyound pleased with these antennas. I have not owned a decent tower but i replaced a low beam with the 20m vert and it was a whole new world.

73s friends and good luck with the antenna experiments and on the air. Hope to log you some time.

James NN4JM
17 yr. old op.

Posts: 2520

« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2008, 05:55:01 PM »

More on 160, and a first look at 10 meter performance:

Spent 2 hours in the ARRL 160 CW contest with my 43 footer. Felt puny using 100 watts. But 85% of the stations I called eventually replied. Working anything over 1000 miles was drudgery. Snagged Oregon and a some big gun New Englanders who probably had beverages. "DX" consisted of a few VEs and a lone XE2. Wouldn't want to try that on phone.

Last weekend's ARRL 10 meter contest offered my first trial (2-3 hours) of the MBVE-1 on that band. How would its high radiation angle play on a band that seemed to offer only a bit of sporadic E propagation into three or four states at a time? Using phone and CW I made 40 Qs, mostly with Florida, Texas and Colorado. Best Q was Wyoming. Called a Brazilian who never heard me.    
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