eHam.net - Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net


Reviews Categories | Antennas: HF Portable (not mobile) | Folding Hexbeam Help


Reviews Summary for Folding Hexbeam
Folding Hexbeam Reviews: 5 Average rating: 3.4/5 MSRP: $EUR 335.00
Description: A lightweight, quick set, broad band, Folding Hexbeam antenna for 5 or 6 bands 6/10/12/15/17/20 meters rated for 1500w that is for portable/Field Day and DXpeditions and will also work for a semi permanent installation (within reason).
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.foldingantennas.com/gb.html
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to this review.

Subscribe!
My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

You can write your own review of the Folding Hexbeam.

KD7CAO Rating: 2/5 Jan 24, 2017 14:26 Send this review to a friend
Temporary Use Perhaps  Time owned: more than 12 months
After purchasing four of these units for use in Emergency Communications within Texas USA we assembled only a single unit. It has been up and installed at my QTH for approximately one year but took almost three months to assemble. We found the instruction documents horrendous, required frequent flipping back and forth and determining which parts in the instructions actually applied to the antenna we had. We had the 5-Band version with the 6M add on. We also had the large clamp on ferrite, guy ring for 30mm mast, and the storm brackets.

The instruction say it will take approximately 6-8 hours to assemble, we discovered after folding once it took about six hours to unfold the thing and get it ready to reinstall.

Several parts were missing which took an extended amount of time to have replaced, the instructions said to cut to a specific length, then said to add extra, then there was a slip of paper that said to add additional amount. We ended up cutting every band almost 12 inches long on each end. Let me say this thing is one massively floppy antenna. It is not like the traditional hex beams where the radial struts bend upwards, the whole thing lays kinda flat.

To begin the process of tuning this antenna it was initially setup just five feet off the ground, I had no way to put it up and down to adjust at the recommended height of 30 feet. At six feet off the ground the RigExperts analyzer said I had a 1.2:1 SWR as the worst and this is all with the extra 12 inches of wire on each band. I then hooked it up to my radio and proceeded to make contacts all around. Droopy wires and struts included. It did work but really did not have much front-to-back. In fact I couldn't tell a difference no matter which direction it was pointing.

After putting it up 20 feet off the ground I discovered it still had a very low SWR only changing to 1.3:1 on the lowest band. I at first thought it was poor coax, replaced with a higher grade LMR-400 Ultraflex and still had exactly the same results. I never trimmed a single wire or adjusted the tensioners. Then the troubles began.

Every single radial spreader was turning into a giant "S" shape, wires were getting flung around and twisted with one another, the element spacers were sliding on the radial spreaders, and the whole thing was looking like a ratted tattered clothes rack that grandma probably had in the backyard. It made my neighbor start complaining and ultimately I agreed it was terrible looking not to mention a pain to get up and down from a push up pole.

I am extremely dissapointed, I was very interested in a hex beam and although this thing functioned, the instructions, construction, and overall appearance made this a worthless purchase. I would not purchase this product again nor could I recommend purchasing anymore. We will probably assemble the remaining three units for the emergency communications and expect them to be one or two time use antennas. Very dissapointed.
 
RV3APM Rating: 5/5 Mar 31, 2015 05:16 Send this review to a friend
VG portable beam  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
It more for field operation, work FB
all bands SWR 1:1
Support EXCELENT, had problem with strong wind and lost 2-3 elements , Christian - FREE exchange all.
RECOMMENDED
 
5V7TH Rating: 0/5 Sep 20, 2014 03:25 Send this review to a friend
Bad antenna  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
During summer 2013 i owned a folding hex for just 7 or 8 days, and send it back to Christian because i found it a disaster. One positive thing, i got my money back.
This folding antenna is no match compared to the other SP7IDX and G3TXQ hexbeams.
Folding antenna : No mechanic stability, difficult to assemble, takes to much time to assemble and disassemle (compared to the sp7idx or g3txq), no staight poles, wires are not tight, clamps do not stay on their place or shifting over the poles during assembly and heavy winds, no good swr, when it is a bit windy even worse. Shure not storm resistant.
Swr was good in some parts of the band, but most of the times my expert liniar 1K-FA was in protect mode because of bad swr in cw part of almost all bands (exept 17 and 12M).
the sp7idx g3txq and is more reliable than the foldingantenna. I could not afford to go on dxpedition with a mechanical onstabile antenna.
I sent it back to Christian and got my money back.
 
KD6X Rating: 5/5 Jul 30, 2014 18:38 Send this review to a friend
Excellent hex beam for temporary use for HOA challenged hams.  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I agree with NA6L's comments. I found this to be an excellent "backyard" temporary antenna that I could erect reasonably quickly for a weekend contest or to snag the occasional rare DX-pedition. I'm one of the many hams who live in an HOA challenged community. So far, my neighbors have been quite understanding of an occasional discrete antenna unobtrusively erected in the backyard. (Much lower profile than an neighbor's motorhome which is allowed for 72 hours on the street out front.) I use a Max-Gain fiberglass pole which gets me up to about 30 feet in low wind conditions.

Electrically, the antenna has worked extremely well. While I've not been rigorous in my measurements, I've found that this antenna will add a couple of S-units to a received signal compared with my SteppIR SmallIR vertical disguised as a flagpole. That's enough to bring the rare one out of the noise for a potential QSO. You definitely can't work them if you can't hear them.

I was pretty methodical with construction, and spread the initial assembly over a couple of evenings. Overall assembly takes a bit more room, and I was somewhat challenged with the typical small California backyard. I also did the assembly without any assistance. I used a Black and Decker workmate as a temporary construction stand. For stealth reasons, I ended up painting the bright yellow fiberglass rods with a battleship grey paint. Unfortunately, I did this after the hex was constructed which took much more time. If you want stealth, paint the fiberglass spreaders before the final assembly process.

Tuning was similar to NA6L's experience. Expect to raise and lower the antenna quite a few times. I was able to get an excellent low SWR on all bands, but probably spent the better part of a day doing the tuning by myself. My only difference with NA6L's description is that I found it best to fold the unused portion of the tuning tails back along the wire. For me, this seemed to most closely approximate the effect of having the wire physically cut. The worst tail position was extended out in the same direction as the wire run. KK7S created some 4-NEC2 models which I ran to help with the tuning. (See his review on the FoldingAntenna.com website under reviews.) Wire antennas are somewhat susceptible to the thickness of the insulation coating on the wire since it changes the velocity of propagation of the wave down the wire structure. Having a model really helped me understand the tuning, and I think contributed to the excellent final result. The model correlated very accurately with my final build when I used actual wire and insulation dimensions.

Since I was building this by myself, I ended up coming up with a number of techniques which helped in a solo assembly project. I'll be glad to share more detailed techniques and photos upon request. (courtney@kd6x.com)

Because I'm storing the antenna in the garage between deployments, I found it easiest to just fold the whole thing upwards like a giant inverted umbrella. This makes deployment much simpler since I can just let the arms carefully drop down after removing the retaining straps. There are a number of tricks which help me keep the antenna from becoming tangled, and help lower the arms gracefully. Again, contact me if this of interest for you.

Finally, I would really like to commend the folding hex-beam creator, Christian, DL1ELU, for his excellent support and suggestions. I didn't need much help, but when I did Christian was prompt and on the money with his help. I'm glad to see that Vibroplex is now the US distributor. Most of my problems were with international shipping and delays in customs, which should be a thing of the past.

 
NA6L Rating: 5/5 Jun 2, 2014 09:02 Send this review to a friend
Unique Product perfect for Field Day, Portable and DXpeditions   Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Snapshot:
A lightweight, quick set, broad band, Folding Hexbeam antenna for 5 or 6 bands 6/10/12/15/17/20 meters rated for 1500w that is great for portable/Field Day and DXpeditions and will also work for a semi permanent installation (within reason).

Pros:
Great Yagi antenna performance (much better than verticals and dipoles), easy to assemble (for most people), light weight (13 lbs), small package for transportation (45”), complete with 10m/12m/15m/17m/ and 20m but can be ordered with an inexpensive 6m option, sets up and breaks down quickly (about 10 minutes). Can be ordered with handy carry bag and balun (both recommended by me). The parts are very well designed and constructed using great materials (typical German engineering), I even ordered an additional 6 of his clever “wire clamps” for other antenna projects.


Cons: Comes in one color “very bright” yellow – see my notes at bottom. This is a “kit” and I found it easy to assemble using the provided instructions – I actually liked the project of cutting the wire, strings and connecting all of the parts – like an adult Erector Set. You do need to be careful when you pack up the antenna so you don’t end up with a bag of spaghetti the next time your set it up – I understand that there is a YouTube video explaining the procedure.

Skill level required for Assembly:
Easy assembly and tuning for Average HAMs, a moderate project for less qualified HAMs (use your Elmer to help and you will learn some great lessons about how antennas work).


Assembly.
Working slowly and solo it took me about 8 hours (a few hours spread over several evenings) to build the antenna. I watched TV in the background and used our living room carpet while building the elements and assembling the many parts. One tip is to build the smallest elements first (if you have the 6m option built it first or build 10m first if you don’t have 6m) that way you’ll learn the element construction procedure (easy after the first example) and if you make a mistake it will be easier to fix (less wire required). Tip: read the element cutting procedure several times, you will be leaving a short additional length of wire on all elements for tuning – I call this a “”tuning tail”. I did the final assembly in the backyard while the antenna was sitting in the center of a plastic trashcan so everything was at waist level.

TUNING.
There has been much written about how the antenna performs (great) so I’ll concentrate on tuning the Folding Hexbeam for the first time for best performance at your preferred areas of interest on each band.

You can mostly ignore all of this tuning information by cutting your “tuning tails” to about ½ of their existing length and if needed use your internal radio tuner or an external tuner that is rated for your power output and I’ll bet that you’ll have excellent results.

One tip is to check the tune of the antenna with the antenna elevated to at least 5 meters high and well away from any structures, power lines etc. We used the center of a huge playground/soccer/ball field (away from all metal) and raised the antenna to about 7 meters for each tuning cut of the “tails” and had no problems. A quick test to see if you are too close to structures would be to raise and then rotate the antenna and watch the SWR for changes as the antenna turns. If you are going to mount the antenna permanently you’ll have to deal with tuning it in place and deal with any issues you may have with surrounding structures in the near field. If you do have nearby surrounding structures/wires you may have some changes in your SWR as you rotate to point in certain directions, normally this won’t be an issue but if it is, it can be easily solved with the tuner in your radio or a small inexpensive external tuner.

Starting with 20 meters and working our way to the higher bands one at a time, we raised and lowered the Hex over and over using a heavy duty Max-Gain fiberglass push pole/mast while checking the SWR with an antenna analyzer each time – use gloves if you have a fiberglass pole. We shortened the tuning “tails” (extra wire length left on the elements from assembly) a bit at a time until we had excellent matches on 10m thru 20m. Bend the “tails” down and away from their respective elements and do not wind them around the elements. Six meters was not a perfect match at 2.5:1 but we did not devote much time to 6m and will return to tuning that band at a later date, it is possible a dedicated 6m multi element Yagi would be better for very serious 6m fans anyway – or use a little tuner for 6m.

We started our trimming process by using the standard formula for a ½ wave dipole (468 divided by frequency) to compare the existing resonant length to our target frequency length but ended up just trimming a bit at a time to see how much the resonant frequency SWR null had moved and then “guestimated” the ensuing cuts – we only had to add wire back on to one element and that was because we got a bit hasty in our cutting process, plus 12 meters is a small band. Note that you will be cutting from one element at a time (like cutting one leg of each dipole) so be sure to cut only ½ of the length shown in the full length dipole calculations – if a dipole calculator specifies that you will cut 2” off of the TOTAL length then you will cut only 1” off of each leg. We made equal cuts to each end of the driven elements and equal cuts to each end of director element (4 cuts total on each band).

There was minimal interaction between the bands/elements as the trimming/tuning process progressed from band to band. Interaction can exist so check each band every time you raise the antenna to be sure that the SWR null location is where you expect it to be – keep good notes after each cut. We cut the elements with the Hex at 2 meters off of the ground with the mast telescoped to its lowest height (easy to reach up and make cuts) but at 2 meters high you won’t get an accurate SWR null point reading – it will be higher in frequency compared to when you raise the antenna to at least 5 meters. After you get to 5 meters or higher your SWR null point will stay very stable even as you go higher in elevation. Naturally using an antenna analyzer makes this all so much easier.

On 10m thru 20m the null SWR readings were 1.1:1, 1.3:1 and even 1.0:1 at our target frequencies (usually we cut for the center of each band) and still under 2.0:1 even all the way at the ends of the bands (full CW and SSB coverage). IOW, depending on your radio’s specifics all of the bands other than 6m were covered with no tuner, possibly 6m could have been adjusted a bit more but we ran out of time. It took us about 15 minutes to set up the antenna and mast (first time erected after initial assembly and packing) and took about 9 minutes to drop and pack it up – including the antenna, mast, coax, guys and stakes .

For SWR testing we only used 3 Dacron guys attached at 6’ on the top of the lower section of the telescopic mast and left the rest of the mast un-guyed for a total height of about 21’, it will easily go to about 30’ and higher using a telescoping push pole for such things as: RVing, hill-topping, Field Day and DXpeditions.

One suggestion: although the factory yellow color on the spreaders is nice for visibility to prevent tripping on the antenna during set-up, it would be nice to offer the Folding Hexbeam in optional darker colors so it would be less visible in residential installations but for now it would be easy to sand and paint the spreaders (prior to assembly).

Thanks for the help from my friends Mats AG6CV and Eric KC7ES – they did the bulk of the work!!

Regards, John NA6L

 


If you have any questions, problems, or suggestions about Reviews, please email your Reviews Manager.