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Reviews Categories | Antennas: HF Portable (not mobile) | Radiobugs Portable Reel Antenna: PRA2 Help

Reviews Summary for Radiobugs Portable Reel Antenna: PRA2
Radiobugs Portable Reel Antenna: PRA2 Reviews: 4 Average rating: 4.0/5 MSRP: $30. (+15. optional balun)
Description: For a simple, portable HF antenna to drape over some trees, there are a number of variations on Steve WA4YGG's design. But, this simple kit, with a $15 optional 1:1 balun & BNC connector is all you need for great mobile QRP operations on a tuned antenna ! Add 150' or so of nylon twine and some 3 or 4 oz fishing weights and you can toss the ends over trees or building supports and operate with a resonant wire while camping, from beach areas, etc. <br> <br> The kit is easy to put together, the wire cable is well made, already marked and installed on the reeels. The kit includes all you need to assemble the antenna including a mounting PCB. One minor nit: wish more washers were included to allow the reels to be spaced above the PCB on washers instead of nuts on two machine screws. Hey, a couple of washers from a junk box fix that ! <br> <br> Highly recommend this mobile, Portable Reel Antenna(PRA2). <br> <br> 73 de Mark W4CHL
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KB0CJ Rating: 1/5 Jul 17, 2003 02:58 Send this review to a friend
Save your money!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased a Radiobugs portable dipole for a vacation-dxpedition to KH6 land. The antenna is a waste of money.

The directions are less than clear, and required referencing the online pictures several times to figure out what went where. In addition, the wires going to the center conductor from the dipole feed reels were to be soldered directly to the copper circuit board center conductor, any old place you wanted it. Not even a solder-hole or spade-lug was provided! Rinky-dink and a weak spot. I fabricated wires and used spade lugs I had on hand instead. The optional 50-ohm balun was not sealed properly, and had to be fixed to make it water-tight. Minus 1-1/2 for poor directions and sloppy construction.

But after is was all together, it looked slick, and packed ďsmall.Ē I erected the center of the antenna at 20-25 feet, using the convenient pre-marked length indicators for 20 meters in a close-by palm tree and tied the ends to adjacent trees in an inverted V configuration, fed with 300 ohm line. It took me several tries to erect the antenna, as the wing-nuts used to secure the wires on each leg of the dipole at the selected lengths wouldnít hold. I had to bring the antenna down several times as the wires kept slipping out, causing the wires to pull-out from the reels, which in turn kept getting tangled, etc. I finally got it all tightened-up by looping the wires around the bolt and tightening the wing nuts. Minus 1/2 for poor design.

All that aside, the antenna played well and I was happy with the results the first day.

The next morning I discovered that the wind had pulled one of the thin 19 gauge wires apart. The weak link turned out to be at the point where the wing-nuts secured the wires. I inspected the one that had not broken, and discovered frayed wires there as well. I decided to use thicker wire cut to length I had brought along for a random wire antenna instead of the thin stuff inside the reels, and in the process of stringing new wires, had another mishap. The bolt that secured the 2 reels together and constituted the center support point had come loose (I assume from the wind, as it had been quite tight the day before) and my center support rope went flying up the tree. I had to jury rig a center support using cable ties (extra wire, cable ties and electrical tape are indispensable items!) before I could get the antenna back up. Minus 2 for poor materials and design (itís supposed to work for what itís designed to do, not fall apart).

This antenna is just not built for use in a portable operation. If you want to throw it up and take it down, itís OK. But if youíre looking for a reliable, well-built and durable portable communications antenna, forget about it. Iíll have to redesign and rebuild the whole thing to keep my investment in this contraption from being a total loss.

Rated 1 out of 5, not recommended at all.
N2DE Rating: 5/5 May 2, 2003 00:13 Send this review to a friend
Solid design and a fair price  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Way back when, on a few shoe string DX expeditions with a Heath HW-8, I had a Hy-Gain TD1 tape dipole in the bag. For some reason I sold it many years ago and have often wished I had it back. (Anyone out there who wants to sell one?) Today the Heath has matured into an Elecraft K1, and my standard portable antenna is a MP1 vertical - but I often had the impression that a full size dipole would be a better choice in some situations. That's why I looked and found the PRA2, and it has exceeded my expectations!

It is a solid light weight construction, using stainless steel hardware, that you can assemble from the kit in 15 minutes. Unlike some similar antennas, it comes with enough wire to operate all the way up to 80m. The wires have color markers so there's no guessing how much you have to pull out of the reel - and they retract easily because it's a highly flexible 19-strand wire. I also ordered the small 1:1 balun option to hook it up to a coax. The construction feels rugged enough to survive some abuse in the travel bag (although it's not a mil-spec accessory like the TD1) The performance so far has been exceptional, although the outstanding conditions certainly played their part: among the first 5 QSO's with 5 watts from my hotel room in New Jersey where TA3DD and ZA1B with mini pile ups all around them. The PRA2 will certainly be in the bag next time!
N2OJQ Rating: 5/5 Nov 14, 2002 17:56 Send this review to a friend
Very Handy!  Time owned: more than 12 months
This is one of the handiest items in my portable arsenal. NOT just for QRP, I run 100 watts into it all the time and it's fantastic. (9 ounces of portable versatility.) I use it mostly for camping or portable operations. Everyone should own one!
W4CHL Rating: 5/5 Apr 10, 2002 15:25 Send this review to a friend
Nice HF reel antenna in kit form  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Sorry, guys, put the review in the product description ! As noted, nice little antenna for mobile QRP work.

Usual disclaimer: I have no relationship with the maker except as a satisfied customer.

73 de Mark W4CHL

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