Living on a mountain top has its advantages and disadvantages. For one, anything standing takes a beating. Up here we build stuff very conservatively and anchor things securely to the ground via lots of cement and deep footings. It is not uncommon to get winds in excess of 70 miles per hour sustained, sometimes lasting for days, thanks to those Canadian highs and lows.
It is because of my past experience with a Brand X antenna that I decided to bite the bullet and dig deep into my wallet to put up only the best. What is the old maxim? You get what you pay for or is it you pay for what you get? My last bargain basement no-name dual band 144/440 antenna lasted about 4 months when one day I went outside while the gentle breezes were blowing around 30 mph and found it laying over, having broken off at its base. Another hundred bucks down the drain.
Up here beams are out of the question and with the elevation are sort of an overkill on the VHF/UHF frequencies. My VX5R is more than enough to bring up repeaters 90 miles or more away, including 6 meter ones with the rubber duck. Therefore, in need of a new base dual band antenna, I chose the Diamond X500HNA. The HNA is the "N" connector model. It is just over 18 feet in length and has an advertised gain of 8.3 and 11.7 db for 144 and 440 respectively.
I chose this particular model because the ad copy said it was good for 90+ mile per hour winds. It is also several pounds heavier than its equally DB rated cousin, the X510NA, which led me to believe it was beefed up in the appropriate places for greater wind loading. Hoping for the best, I splurged on this unit.
I paid $239.95, shipping included from www.kjielectronics.com. It came in an absolutely gorgeous 8 foot long heavy duty cardboard shipping container direct from California that was a work of art in of itself. Upon unpacking the antenna I was taken aback by the magnificent craftmanship of the metal parts. They were beautifully machined and not like the casted pieces of junk the bargain basement dual bander had. The finish was flawlessly chromed too.
I checked out how to assemble the three sections and was very gratified to see that screws were used to interconnect the vertical elements. The original junker I had used Allen set screws and you guessed it, one of them was missing necessitating a fruitless 80 mile round trip to various hardware stores trying to find a replacement. I wound up soldering two of the sections together.
K2XL and I assembled the Diamond without any difficulties. The sections screwed pefectly together using the supplied wrenches. The weather seals seated perfectly. We mounted it to the same mast that had previously held the Brand X antenna. This was done in January when natures elements tested us all. Everything went like clockwork, then it was time for the proverbial "smoke test." I used my IC-706MK IIG to feed it and had my Yaesu YS-500 SWR/Wattmeter inline.
Knowing what the SWR/Power results were like with the previous antenna, I was especially curious of what the comparisons would be. No disappointments on this score. The IIG put full power out, about 55 watts into the Diamond on 2 meters where before the Brand X did about 35. The SWR on the Diamond at 2 meters was never more than 1.3 to 1, with it being flat for most of the band. On 440 my IIG squeezed out 18 watts into the Diamond which was the most it was ever capable of (into a dummy load). The SWR for all intents and purposes was flatter than a pancake. The old X'er was never better than 1.8 to 1 and for most of the band was well in excess of 2 to 1, never exceeding 15 watts output from the IIG. The SWR was equally as bad on 2 meters, to a fault. Almost needless to add, the Diamond visibly showed more gain on received signals than the comparatively long Brand X did.
In March I had a good test of the Diamond's ability to survive a windstorm. We had a sustained event of three days where the gusts did exceed 70 mph on the first day and night. My fingers became numb from crossing them, hoping the antenna would survive. I could have tilted it over but decided to go for broke. Later that month I woke up one morning to find the Wx windy and the Diamond encased in ice from top to bottom and as the wind blew, I could hear the ice creaking. Now that did test my patience and I carefully tilted the antenna over and removed the ice. The specifications call for winds of 90 mph plus but without ice. Why tempt the fates.
So, in summary, the Diamond took a heavy duty beating from the elements up here on the mountaintop and survived. I'm hoping that will be the case for future winters and generally any inclement weather. We get some tremendous thunder and lightning storms accompanied by high winds in the spring, summer and fall. So far they have been a cake walk for it. It is true, you get what you pay for. I recommend this antenna for extreme conditons, otherwise a Brand Xer would be okay if you are inside a dome in a peaceful valley and don't mind inferior performance. All in all, it is a no-tune plug and play delight.
Happy Hamming de K2ANE/2