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Reviews Categories | Antennas: HF: Yagi, Quad, Rotary dipole, LPDA | Bencher Skyhawk Help


Reviews Summary for Bencher Skyhawk
Bencher Skyhawk Reviews: 20 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $1295
Description: High-performance trapless triband yagi with redesigned feed system: to avoid patent litigation, the Skyhawk feed system was redesigned, which actually improved VSWR performance of the antenna. The redesigned antennas will begin shipping in early August, 2000.
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.bencher.com/ham/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=4&products_id=11
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KE2WY Rating: 5/5 Sep 7, 2014 10:41 Send this review to a friend
Excellent mechanical and performance results  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had this antenna up at 60ft for about seven years. I use a Ham-IV for rotation, which has performed flawlessly with the antenna.

The antenna assembles easily with no more than the usual attention required to the manual and the various bits and pieces. A good pop rivet tool is recommended; I started with an inferior one and then changed mid way through assembly - what a difference! Some attention is required to get all the elements into the same plain due to hardware tollerances, but this is just an eyeball issue. I found the supplied "butter" lubrication insufficient. I may have been too liberal in applying the stuff, but I think not. I'd recommend having a good supply of the stuff on hand and using it liberally. The brackets holding the driven elements were not "flat" which, if left as-is, would have bent those elements into a "droop down" position. Getting them "flat" required some re-bending of the mounting brackets, but doing so was not a problem.

After several years it was evident that the spacers used towards the ends of the driven elements did not slide easily; the tips of the driven elements became stuck in strange directions. I took the antenna down, reamed out the two outer holes in the spacers, and then used small screw clamps to control the amount of movement. This allowed the elements to easily "float" in the wind and return to their natural position. A good fix that I'd recommend to Bencher.

The boom sags slightly but the amount of sag has stayed the same over the years. If I were doing it again I'd install some sag supports for looks if nothing else. Otherwise, the boom has been up to the task of holding all the hardware and elements through seven Central New York winters. While not the heaviest tribander out there, I did use a crane to get it up and down the tower, and I would recommend this approach is lieu of other options.

The RF performance has been outstanding. I don't have the means to measure pattern and gain, but I can easily null out and bring up signals by the appropriate rotation. In an average city location, I have never failed to hear and work just about everything that's on the spotting networks. Contest performance has been equally satisfying. In addition to the designed 20/15/10m bands, the antenna easily loads on 30/17/12 with an assortment of antenna tuners. I can more or less duplicate the performance on these bands that I get on the designed bands.

My previous beam was a 2-element, 3-band quad on the same tower, which performed well. That said, the SkyHawk's performance is clearly stronger, and I would buy another one without question. Also, it looks great!

...robert KE2WY
 
N3US Rating: 5/5 Jul 30, 2014 12:27 Send this review to a friend
Awesome Antenna  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased this Bencher Skyhawk 2 years ago to replace my TH7-DXX. Its SWR became erratic due to moisture getting into the traps from UV light degradation of the traps' plastic end caps. Until I relocated to central VA, it sat in its original box.

I recently assembled and installed it on a 65' Rohn 45G tower. Bencher's customer support was awesome. Jere and Bob were so patient and professional in answering my many questions and promptly sent me updated hardware such as the improved driven element spacers and balun clamp. They were very receptive to my suggestions for minor improvements to clarify the assembly instructions.

In general, assembly went smoothly because of the well thought out grouping of parts and packaging. I assembled the 10 elements and boom in my walk-out basement and did the final assembly outside with the boom supported on cinder blocks. I enjoyed riveting the elements. Due to the pre-drilled holes, it is nearly impossible to incorrectly assemble the elements and boom. The antenna is very large but it is well balanced. This facilitated raising it up the tower and around the guy wires.

The SWR is spot on and the antenna definitely exhibits some gain off its back on 12 and 17 meters. It is a pile-up crusher.

So far, I am very happy with its performance and I achieved my goal of installing a high performance Yagi that did not have traps or stepping motors!
 
NW3Y Rating: 5/5 Jul 27, 2014 09:35 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
W2GD recommended and just installed my Skyhawk last week on a 90 ft tower. With 100 watts, my first contact was 9A2WA in a small pileup. From my measurements, this antenna has a slightly better performing SWR than advertised. Unreal to say the least. It looks like it is going to be outstanding. I will provide more info after we get into contest season.
 
K4LRX Rating: 5/5 Jul 18, 2014 02:06 Send this review to a friend
Great antenna  Time owned: more than 12 months
Being an avid DXer I was a little skeptical of this model in comparison to my Hy Gain 205BA I had up for years. I decided to make a change since I wanted coverage on ten and fifteen as well and not be limited to one band.

My fears were gone after a few days of using the Bencher, it performs gets over the pile ups and snags that rare DX . I can generate pile ups on three bands with ease my Skyhawk rests at 75 feet and I have no problems with it during high winds, ice, snow, or blistering hot.

I could list the stations I have worked, but let's be satisfied with the fact I worked FT5ZM on three bands with this antenna no problem.

I do have a little interaction with my 40 meter folded dipole, it does raise the SWR slightly when the antenna is aimed to the Northwest right into the field of the wire antenna. It is minor, I also noticed less of an effect with the Bencher then I had with the Hy Gain. It was closer to 40 meters with the longer boom.

To be quite honest I have not noticed any major receive differences with the Bencher versus the Hy Gain. One big advantage this antenna is less strain on the rotor, the T2X turns it fine. I would recommend this model to anyone looking for a good tri-band antenna. Plus it is trapless and I love that idea..
 
W6GX Rating: 5/5 Dec 31, 2013 15:27 Send this review to a friend
A masterpiece  Time owned: more than 12 months
I echo most of the comments made here. I've had this for almost two years. This beam has very good bandwidth and F/B. I'm also having success using it on the WARC bands (including 30m). Obviously it doesn't work as well as resonant antennas on the WARC bands but it allows me to work anything I could hear. On RX and TX tests I'm down two S units on 17m against a Mosley beam. To me it's an acceptable tradeoff considering I have killer performances on the three main bands without concerns of trap maintenance and duty-cycle-related power de-rating due to heat build up in the traps. To sum it up I have nearly the performance of a Steppir without the mechanical complexity and high maintenance requirements.

I did have some issues with the element spacers in strong winds. Bencher sent me some revised spacers that have slightly enlarged holes on two of the three holes. The larger holes allow the spacers to bend without jamming against the elements. The new spacers are definitely an improvement over the older ones as I have not had any issues whatsoever in strong winds (>75mph). The antenna doesn't work without the spacers (SWR would vary in the wind unless the driven elements are perfectly in parallel with each other).

I have modeled this antenna in EZNEC and the results mirror my on-the-air observations. On the WARC bands there's a small gain off the back of the beam. E-mail me for the pattern plots.

As a side note Jim WA3FET did the electrical design and Tim K3LR did the mechanical design.

73
Jonathan W6GX
 
K7LY Rating: 4/5 Dec 31, 2013 09:50 Send this review to a friend
Excellant Tri-Bander  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had this beam up at 60' for over 4 years. Works great, even on 17M (179 entities) and on 12M (139 entities). Tuner is really needed though. Have not tried 30M as suggested in a previous review. Went together easily, but I agree that the manual could be a bit clearer. I don't have worry about snow/ice here in the low desert, but it has survived some pretty good wind gusts. Works well in contests too.
 
K8CMR Rating: 5/5 Dec 31, 2013 07:46 Send this review to a friend
Really good antenna  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had the Skyhawk for 7 or 8 years now and have drawn these conclusions:

Relatively easy to assemble. Others have commented on their experiences, so I won't add to that. Take your time and do it right.

Good F/B (20 dB)on 10-15-20. Marginal on 17m, negligible on 12 m.

Good gain on 10-15-20, a little gain on 17 (maybe 2 dB) and virtually none on 12 (acts as a dipole).
This antenna out-performs the TH6DXX's that I have heard near my location. Comparable to the KT34XA without all the hassle in construction and tuning. The one SteppIR 3 element near me seems to perform about the same, but is twice the price and SteppIR durability is suspect in Michigan winters.

The spacers that separate the driven elements tend to slide slightly in the wind and then lock the elements in a contorted shape making them look like an elongated "S" on the boom. It doesn't affect performance, but looks weird.

The Skyhawk has survived multiple wind storms of up to 70 MPH and much ice and snow without damage.
I used a Hygain 205BA with a 34 ft. boom for many years and interlaced 4 elements on the same boom for 15 meters, and while it worked fine, it did not survive the storms and wind nearly as well as the Bencher has. I had lots of repairs on the Hygain to elements that came apart and a broken suspension cable on the boom. That's why, in my advancing years, I decided to downsize to a 24 ft., boom and the all riveted construction. It has paid off in several ways...I have 4 bands on one antenna that work extremely well or very well. I don't have any repairs to this point. It always tunes properly. I have not given up that much from my 205BA (maybe a couple of dB). Much easier for my rotator to manage, especially in the wind. The wind compensator on the antenna works great. There is not a pileup I can't break with this antenna at 65 feet and my Henry 3KD amp. However, I don't recommend that you use more than 100 watts on 12 and 17 meters or you will damage the antenna.

If you are building a contest station, there are lots of monobanders and SteppIRs to do the job. But if you are more budget minded and limited as to the number of antennas you can raise, this is a good choice. I work a lot of DX and this antenna has been the best compromise for me.
 
W5ZZT Rating: 5/5 Jun 2, 2013 21:06 Send this review to a friend
Great antenna - low wind load  Time owned: more than 12 months
II have had this antenna up for over 3 years on a old Tri-ex WT-51 crank-up tower. I needed a high performance antenna with a low wind load and this fit the bill. It does not have any traps and a very low SWR. I use it across the entire10/15/20 meter band without a tuner.

This antenna is big! I live in a small size lot in the city and had to perform the final assembly in the air using a lift. The antenna elements are put together with rivets and the elements are attached to the boom with pre-drill holes holding it perfectly in place.

This is by far the best made antenna I have had. Put it up and forget it. If you can hear it you can work it.
 
K7DM Rating: 4/5 Oct 4, 2012 13:35 Send this review to a friend
Performs Great, But....  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My Skyhawk has been up for almost a month and it has performed as advertised. SWR and reactance measurements are excellent. A big plus is that it will load up on 12, 17, and even 30 with the internal tuner in my IC 756 PRO-II.

First, the positive comments:

1. The boom to mast plates are terrific. They make mounting the antenna a breeze compared to others I've had.

2. The wind compensators (boom and element) do a good job of minimizing antenna rotation in high winds, thus reducing stress on the rotator.

Second, the negative comments:

1. The manual leaves a LOT to be desired. An antenna of this size, complexity, and cost demands precise, explicit instructions and the Rev C manual falls far short of these requirements. There are several places where the user is left to guess or otherwise determine what should be done. What diagrams and pictures are included raise more questions than they answer, and there are omissions that can lead you down the wrong path.

2. While doing research on various antennas, I found a website that described a catastrophic failure of the Skyhawk boom in severe icing conditions. Pictures on the website clearly showed that the boom broke in two at a point where two of the three inner splices had a 1/4 inch gap. After considering this, I dismissed it as probably a user error and I don't have an icing problem on the Wahington coast. When I assembled the boom (and this is one area where the manual fails miserably), I determined that there is in fact at least a 1/4 inch gap between the boom splices. I don't understand this at all, because from my standpoint, the purpose of the splices is to reinforce the boom. Leaving a gap of any length between the splices contradicts this, and I see no reason for it whatsoever. So, if you live in an area that is prone to severe icing, my recommendation is that you discuss this issue with Bencher before you buy.

I sent a critique in an e-mail to two people at Bencher describing the problems I encountered during the assembly (mostly due to manual omissions and mistakes), but I haven't had a reply in more than a month, which is disappointing.

The bottom line is that the Skyhawk performs as advertised and is really a terrific antenna. Unfortunately, this is offset by the problems in the manual and the mechanical design. Therefore, I graded it as follows:

Performance - 5.0
Mechanical design - 4.0
Manual - 2.5

Weighting these equally yields a rating of 3.8

Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions.

73,

Don, K7DM
k7dm@coastaccess.com
Ocean Shores, WA
 
N4KW Rating: 5/5 Oct 1, 2012 18:57 Send this review to a friend
It's name may imply a CB antenna, a CB antenna it is not  Time owned: more than 12 months
My review will not contain any technical information; that can be found on the Bencher web page.

I've loved antenna/tower work for over 45 years, but it seemed the towers were growing taller and antennas were getting bigger, so it was time to downsize. I sold it all and tried a TH7DX at 70 feet, but it wasn't what I was looking for. A KT36XA worked well for awhile, but after a tower accident I lost the XA and didn't want to build another. A lot of searching and modeling of various antennas had me pretty well convinced to try the Bencher SkyHawk. It's been up for over a year and it was exactly what I was looking for. Despite finding the instructions a bit unusual, it was easy to put together, although the driven elements (feeder holes) alignments were a challenge to line up.

Contesting and DX-ing for many years gives you a feel for your station, and antennas performance; with my previous tri-banders I wasn't able to work the weak stations which didn't move my "S" meter. That is no longer a problem, as my Sky Hawk performs beautifully. It's a pleasure to use and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

Please drop me a line if you have any questions.

73, Pete N4KW
 
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