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Author Topic: Alpha ProMaster - Can I build this?  (Read 4330 times)
FREEMA22
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« on: March 26, 2013, 06:14:33 PM »

Hi all,
I don't have a permanent HF station at home, and am thinking about putting together a "temporary" setup that I can set up in the evening after the kids go to bed, or take on the road on vacation.

I saw the Alpha ProMaster online today (https://amateurradiostore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=158) and was intrigued. It looks surprisingly simple, and the performance reviews here are great. There are a couple of hang ups that I have.

1) The price. $350 seems pretty steep.

2) I already have a tripod and mast setup that I use for 2M and 440 that could be re-purposed for HF.

Is anyone aware of any plans online that duplicate this type of setup? I am sure I could fabricate something given the right set of plans.

Thanks,
Mike
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N4CR
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« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2013, 06:39:26 PM »

Never mind the marketing stuff, where's the specifications?
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73 de N4CR, Phil

We are Coulomb of Borg. Resistance is futile. Voltage, on the other hand, has potential.
KQ6Q
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Posts: 971




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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2013, 08:30:08 PM »

the Promaster in the link looks a lot like the buddipole, and equally pricey. For simpler and cheaper, check out the W6MMA portable antenna line - just buy what you need to add to what you have. Or  a hamstick dipole - pick an after dark band you'd like to use  -30m or 40m, two hamsticks and a bracket.
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FREEMA22
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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2013, 09:21:26 PM »

So after reading their manual, and watching their video a couple times, I am pretty sure I can build this thing. I would need to get a mirror mount for the vertical, mount four 30-foot radials under the delrin washer, and then find an eight foot telescoping whip. That can all be mounted to my existing tripod.

The missing piece to all of this is what exactly the "Alpha Match" tuner is. If I just use a regular LDG tuner, I should be able to replicate the performance of their antenna, right?

I'm a total noob at antenna building, so any expertise is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Mike
KC9JBY
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G7DMQ
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2013, 01:47:47 AM »

I agree - you could make the same thing (or something as good) for almost nothing!

For the mast, what about using the poles used for 'feather flags' - you know the kind of thing they use at outdoor exhibitions.  They are usually a composite construction and disassemble in to short lengths.  The companies who sell them usually supply bases / mountings - and you can get them very tall!

Search eBay for "Pole Windsock"

For example:
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Brookite-7m-Telescopic-Windsock-Flag-Pole-BRAND-NEW-FAST-SHIPPING-/281080445981?pt=UK_Toys_Games_Outdoor_Toys_ET&hash=item4171b33c1d

This one even has an eye on the top to attach your wire!

Si
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K2DC
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« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2013, 03:09:54 AM »

Mike,

   You certainly could build a tripod of sorts for a mobile antenna for quick setup.  I was once interested in the Alpha Delta Outpost tripod which was intended for use with Outbackers.  But at $200 and 18 pounds it seemed to me to cost and weigh 8 or 10 times what it needed to, so I built something.  I used 1/8" by 1/2" angle stock from a hardware store for the legs and fold-out ground couplings.  A lightweight chain kept the legs from spreading out too far.  I used it for portable ops with Hamsticks, and they matched better on the tripod than they did on the car.  It took several hours work, but it only cost $30, weighed 2 1/2 pounds, and fit it a large fishing pole carrier.

73,

Don, K2DC
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K5LXP
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« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2013, 06:28:14 AM »

Seems like an awful lot of goofing around for a poor antenna.

Why not work it from the other direction - start with what you want to do, then decide what the best solution would be?  I can guarantee you that "all in wonder" antennas like these are great at performing poorly on all bands but so convenient to carry around.  So what would you rather do, make contacts or carry the antenna around in a fashionable carry bag?  There's more to antenna performance than the ability to "tune" (per the marketing schtick).

One thing I'll hand to antennas like these, all the futzing around with hardware and adjustments and getting everything just so, you don't need to make any contacts - the antennas are entertainment enough!

My portable setup is a $20 crappie pole and scrap wire.  Sets up in minutes and works great, even QRP.  Save yourself a lot of trouble and expense and stay away from the ridiculously expensive and complex "portable" antenna junk that's out there today.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM



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AC2EU
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« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2013, 06:44:04 AM »

That Alpha system requires that you string radials. If you are going to do that, you might as well throw a wire dipole in the trees.

The buddipole system is 'self contained" , needs no radials but is also expensive.

I built a buddipole "knockoff" from a couple of OPEC antennas I found at a hamfest which are like hamsticks, but have adjustable loading coils for 80 through 10.
It claims that it will work on 6, 2M, and 70 cm, too but I never tried it.

I adapted an old photo tripod to accept an extendable pole from a pool cleaning net as the mast.

The thing works wonders on 20 meters!
« Last Edit: March 27, 2013, 06:49:32 AM by AC2EU » Logged

KB0PIO
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« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2013, 06:38:41 AM »

I have owned the Alpha ProMaster Antenna since October of 2012. Many people confuse what looks like radials, but these are actually radiating elements. I’ve learned to appreciate the fact that the matching network (Alpha Match) is placed electrically at the top of the antenna. I also noticed that last month their DX was reviewed in the February isssue of Radcom Magazine, the magazine for the Radio Society of Great Britain. So anyways; “can I build this?” Maybe, probably, but…read on…

Now that I've seen the ProMaster, I understand that I would have spent a lot of time and money making mistakes on the road to build something like it. I completely understand why the price is between $299 and $349. Although I think they would sell a lot more of these at $299, as a small business man myself, I also understand that they do have to pay at least 30% in taxes to the feds on the profit made from each sale as well pay for rent, utilities, salaries, insurance, and all the other expenses that goes along with running a legitimate business. I’d also like to mention that the owner of Alpha Antenna personally returns phone calls if there is any problem, and there’s a toll free number (1.888.482.3249) that you can call to talk directly to the company that manufacturers the antenna. Kudos for having the guts to open an American Company, in America!

So, what could be an alternative that a person might be able to build or assemble?:

10-20 Meters (Maybe 20 meters):
102 inch whip for $30 from Radio Shack and put it on your tripod and attach it to a $80 MFJ tuner
Pros-Cheap
Cons-Isn't a very portable solution.
-Not much good on 20 meters and lower bands

6-80 Meters:
Hamstick for $30 each and put it on your tripod
Pros-Smaller than the first solution, around 36-40 inches
Cons-Have to carry and purchase a hamstick for different bands (when compared to price of the 10 band ProMaster that'll run you $300)
-A hamstick is only good for about 2/5th of any particular band you want to operate on, you would retune it if you wanted to even though that's a pain.

6-160 Meters:
Build a fan dipole (I have used this antenna in the past), around $200 depending on number of bands
Pros-Works good on all bands and you won’t have the expense of a tuner
Cons-When used for portable, it’s a real pain cause the wires get tied in knots
-Price of copper wire is high
-You have to have a lot of space to put one of these antennas up
-If it ever comes down, you’ve got a mess on your hand
-And my wife’s complaint, it’s just simply embarrassing to look at

So I bought a ProMaster on sale last October of 2012 for a pretty good price, and have noticed that it does go on sale everyone now and again at the http://www.AmateurRadioStore.com, so you might want to watch their web site or sign up to receive the Coupons that they send out each month.

Personally, I had a few criteria when I started using the Alpha Antenna line:
-I didn't want something that appeared as though I was carrying a rifle in a bag
-That would deploy to as large a foot print as possible
-An antenna system that I could use on all amateur bands
-Something I wouldn't have to retune or change a clip on every time the wind decided to change directions
-A systems that I could repair in the field if something broke

The Alpha ProMaster Antenna has quality written all over it and is built in the USA. I haven't done an eHam review on it yet, but when I do, the Alpha ProMaster Antenna will get high marks.
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K5LXP
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« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2013, 08:30:05 AM »

This:

-An antenna system that I could use on all amateur bands
-Something I wouldn't have to retune or change a clip on every time the wind decided to change directions

Plus this:

Quote from: Alpha_ProMaster_Antenna_User_Guide
20 Watts required to efficiently operate the solid state Alpha Match tuner.

All bands, no adjustments/tuning and a "minimum power" for efficiency (?) has red flags all over it.  Show me the patterns.  If this was such a remarkable antenna they'd be proud to publish performance data.  He's got more info on power line hazards in the manual than antenna information.  I don't expect miracles from compromise/portable antennas but it'd be nice to know what tradeoffs were made.  It may be the best made thing out there but if it's a crappy antenna, it's just a well made crappy antenna.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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G7DMQ
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Posts: 40




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« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2013, 09:22:15 AM »

It does look nicely made - but it still looks a lot of hassle to get it up & running compared to a loop for example.

Anyone know how the 'solid state match' works?  Assuming it works, it's a lot easier than the tuning coil thing which looked every bit as much bother as tuning a loop.

In the video the guy says that the combined length of the whip and all the radials is 128' = 1/4 wave on 160m.  Is it reasonable to add up the lengths of ALL the radiating elements to give the wavelength it's tunes at?  I'm not totally convinced.  That's not to say it doesn't work well on 160m though.

Si
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N4CR
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Posts: 1662




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« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2013, 07:29:03 PM »

In the video the guy says that the combined length of the whip and all the radials is 128' = 1/4 wave on 160m.

RF is generated by the distance a charge travels in space. Going around in circles doesn't count.

Quote
Is it reasonable to add up the lengths of ALL the radiating elements to give the wavelength it's tunes at?

It doesn't matter. Resonance is no guarantee of radiation.
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73 de N4CR, Phil

We are Coulomb of Borg. Resistance is futile. Voltage, on the other hand, has potential.
KC9SXB
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Posts: 2




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« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2013, 08:49:00 PM »

The radiation patterns in EZNEC for this antenna is similar to four L antennas, however, I like the simplicity of the Alpha Wide Band Mil-Stick antenna, and I'd have to say you can't beat the price. Here's the link to it: https://amateurradiostore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=181
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