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Reviews Categories | Antennas: HF Verticals and Wire | Bilal Isotron Help


Reviews Summary for Bilal Isotron
Bilal Isotron Reviews: 74 Average rating: 3.9/5 MSRP: $59.95 to 179.95
Description: HF Antennas for SMALL Spaces
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.k1cra.com
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You can write your own review of the Bilal Isotron.

<— Page 5 of 8 —>

K5RIX Rating: 5/5 Jun 22, 2006 07:35 Send this review to a friend
It really works fine  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Forget Marilyn Monroe, et. al. My logbook indicates there is signal being radiated by my Isotrons. Mine are on a steel mast clamped to a balcony railing up about 70 feet.

I wrote a pretty glowing review of the MFJ model 1622 "Apartment" antenna (4/5) and it earned it. But I got tired of the counterpoise wires all over the balcony, and I REALLY got tired of my better half demanding they go away. OK. Now I have had the 20M and 40M Isotrons up a few weeks. They are better than I initially reported.

The Isotrons are a rare bird. Totally outside the box, yet completely within it. After a couple weeks using the Isotrons A LOT, I must say they are most likely better than anything near their size. Plus, there are no radial counterpoises. They make a neat installation that looks like a hi-tech bug zapper.

My installation is a 20M plus 40M on a six-foot mast clamped to my balcony railing. Resonating the 20M model is super simple: you swing the bottom arm into position for max signal. The 40M model I dunno - mine came out at about 7.02 which is perfect for me. But by removing the wire that connects the bottom capacitor plate to the mast one can raise the resonant frequency. These antennas are quite forgiving if you give them just a little room to breathe, i.e.: in the clear in just two dimensions.

The proof is in the operating results, and I have worked everywhere I could have hoped plus a couple others. Being in a large steel-reinforced concrete structure tends to attenuate signals from certain directions, but not that many in my case. As far as I can tell, the only places I can't work from Yokosuka are South America and south Africa. But who knows? Running 50 watts on CW I have worked the USA, Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Saipan, Taiwan, plus the usual South Koreans and Russians.

The Isotrons may not be the final answer to anybody's DX dreams, but they work better than ANY antenna I've tried here, and they do not require wire running all over the place.

I am a believer now.

 
AG4YO Rating: 4/5 Apr 11, 2006 12:14 Send this review to a friend
Amazingly Good  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This antenna isn't a 3 element beam on 80m. That's the bad news. The good news is that it is as good as many dipoles I have had. I moved into a neighborhood where the Nazis roam. I mounted an AD DXCC in the attic and an Isotron 80.

The Isotron is bolted to a 3' piece of pipe which is ty-wrapped to a 2X4 in the dead center of my attic. The 2X4 was courtesy of the air conditioning people as it was used as part of the support for duct work. My attic is about 15' tall in the center and this 2X4 is about 7 feet long. I feed the antenna with 75' RG8X coax that runs across the attic to the eaves, out a hole, down the brick, into a hole into my radio room.

I put 5' into the radio room (including drip loop) and coiled the rest (about 30') into a neat 6" coil ty-wrapped outside the house. I feed my Swan 350 and 1200x amp to it thru an MFJ tuner and coax switch, and the other port on the coax switch goes to my B&W 5100 with an SB200 amp thru another MFJ tuner. The two tuners let me tune one for AM 3885 and the other for SSB 3955. Of course, use low power to tune and always tune for minimum SWR, NOT max power. Tuning amp outputs and then the tuners soon yeilds rated power at minimum SWR.

Construction and Tuning the Antenna

Construction is easy. About 10 parts max to put together. Bolt the radiator plates to the plastic side insulators (be sure hole in insulator is closest to coax plug). Screw the long studs into the coils with double nuts to sandwich the wire from the coil. Attach the coil to the radiator plates in appropriate holes. Screw the wire from the coax connector along with the wire from the bottom of the coil together using the hole in the insulator as the tie point. Mount the PVC mounting pipes to the radiator plates. All hardware (with a few extra) are included. The two "L" shaped rods are for tuning...more on that next. You're ready to attach to pipe and mount! Instructions are overly complicated but follow them as you do the above things.

Tuning the Antenna

Not a big deal. Where in the band do you operate? 3.860 Voice and above? Forget the tuning arms. CW? use one tuning arm for mid band and both for the lower part of the band. Truthfully, if you're using a tuner then one tuning arm will work.

Not using a tuner? A little more tricky. Mount the antenna and you'll have to use the info above plus trial and error (unless you have a resonant point locator like the MFJ antenna tester). Rotating the tuning arms will handle the fine tuning. But HOW YOU MOUNT THE ANTENNA EFFECTS THE TUNING. Basically the tuning arm (down in bottom mounting position and up in the top mounting position) lengthens the antenna. You can download the manual from Bilal off the net for free to see what "top/bottom position hole" means.

Performance

Most everyone can't tell the difference between my signal now at the new QTH on the Isotron and my old QTH in Pensacola on the dipole. I have only used it for a couple of days now, but so far so good!! No TVI, no garage door opener trouble, no alarm system problem all with 350w AM or 500w SSB.

Grounding

The antennas ARE NOT grounded in the attic. I have a ground wire that attaches to both amps and both tuners, then out the hole (about 12") to a 6' ground rod. Hardly a "proper" ground. The coil of coax helps keep any stray RF out of my shack. Your mileage may vary but I have no problems with loading without a ground.

EMF

Didn't measure it, but my high and clear mounting in the attic helps. The mounting point is directly over the den so the minimum point (right under the antenna) is where my wife sits to watch TV. Most of my 500W work is at night after she is in bed on the other side of the house. Just be aware of this issue and if you only use 100w then you should have no problem. I have neon bulbs below and in proximity of the antennas and they do not glow.

Anyway if you live in "Fatherland" subdivision, thumb your nose at the Covenant Gestappo and have fun! The Isotron can help.
 
KC2OYZ Rating: 2/5 Mar 18, 2006 23:47 Send this review to a friend
It will make a good bird feeder...  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I live in a very difficult QTH when it comes to antennas. I had tried 'apartment antennas' from Mighty Fine Junk, and managed to make only a few local contacts. So I bought the Isotronics for 20m and 40m.... AND... it was... a TOTAL BUST... I didn't make even one contact in a month's worth of trying, even with my Palstar tuner! I decided to cut a dipole, feed it with twin lead and hang it out the window, which is about 70 feet above the ground, even though the dipole is surrounded on three sides by walls - and suddenly I was 5/9 in Arizona, Serbia and Austria.
 
N4VNV Rating: 2/5 Feb 14, 2006 11:40 Send this review to a friend
Beats Nothing??  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
For those of you not happy with this antenna...Let me make you feel better. I bought one of those "Hula-Hoop" antennas. You know, the one that's supposed to work even lying in the trunk of your car. There's one of us "Dummies" born evey minute.
 
VE2JKA Rating: 4/5 Feb 14, 2006 08:42 Send this review to a friend
80 & 20 Meter  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
80 meter antenna test

Received this antenna on February 9th order was placed on January 16.. Customs Canada opened the package therefore there's a little delay time associated with this...I got the 80/40 combo and I also ordered the 20 Meter antenna for mobile use :-). These antennas are easy to setup (assemble) with out reading the instructions and simply going by some pictures the antenna can be easily assembled in 10 to 15 minutes. I mounted mine approx. 30' high on a telescopic mast which is grounded with a 8' ground rod. I tuned absolutely nothing I simply included 1 of the rods/hat with my install.

Results, radio used Kenwood 570

S.W.R. 1:1 =3.825 2:1=3.775 ~ 3.875 Not Bad!! I tuned nothing.

Signal/Noise...There's more noise than my g5rv which is mounted as an inverted V @ 30'. In my setup the isotron brings in more noise and less signal compared to my g5rv I must mention that my g5rv IS not tuned for 80 my SWR is wayyyy off on this band still, it performs better than the isotron on RX.

20 Meter antenna test

Took down the 80 meter and replaced it with the 20 meter isotron. I can't beleive it!.. Way better than mu g5rv low noise better signals and the SWR is low across the band!!! again I tuned nothing, up she went from the box as this one was already put together when it arrived... Stunned and suprized highly recommended +++++

Read the full review and see pictures link bellow.
http://hamradio.iqf.ca/showthread.php?p=100#post100
 
VE3CXB Rating: 5/5 Nov 26, 2005 21:15 Send this review to a friend
40m version works  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I bought the 40m version after trying to put up a wire antenna on small property. I just didn't have the room for a full half wave dipole and the end fed random wire antenna I had strung up was causing me grief (RF in the shack, etc.) so I thought I'd give the Isotron a try.

When it arrived it seemed like an expensive antenna for what was in the box. Of course it was even more expensive once I got it across the border into Canada. Also it didn't seem like it would be a very sturdy antenna. It did seem to be of good quality though with stainless steel hardware. I put it all together and it wobbled around. However, once I got it mounted everything tightened up quite a bit and it is a lot more sturdy now. It did manage to survive a bad wind storm we had here a while back with gusts over 100km per hour. One thing I did was to mount it so that it presented the smallest cross sectional area to the prevailing winds in my area. I was surprised that while the winds were blowing it didn't seem to move all that much. That was a relief.

Even though everyone (including Bilal) says to mount the antenna as high as possible, it just wasn't possible at my QTH. I mounted it on two sections of inch and a quarter TV antenna mast. The instructions say it must be mounted on a metal mast. In fact the antenna is electrically connected to the mast. So, at my location this antenna is only 20ft. above ground. It is also right above our sunroom and only about 10 feet away from our brick house. Bilal also suggest grounding the mast at the bottom nearest to the ground. I "did not" ground my mast. The mast is just sitting on top of a piece of PVC pipe that I stuck in the ground. I also did not bother with the tuning steps given in the instructions. I'm partially disabled and once this antenna went up it was going to stay up - for the time being at least.

One thing I did was to tape all the electrical connections with silicone stretchy tape. I also put liquid electrical tape on the connections. Some of the connections are exposed to the weather and I wanted get them covered up. There is no way water was going to get into anything.

The antenna is fed with about 25 feet of RG-8X. The coax is neatly run down the mast using twist ties and more of that stretchy tape. My signal source is a Yaesu FT-840 (100 watts) which then feeds into a Dentron Super Tuner Plus. I did a rough estimate of where the centre frequency of this antenna is and it seems to be just about darned near in the middle of the 40m band. Remember now that I did not tune this antenna. The instructions say that objects in the immediate area may cause the tuning to shift. I guess I was just lucky.

Well, to get to the point, this antenna does indeed work. RF is going out and I'm having QSO's with other hams. Using the Dentron tuner is a bit finicky as the antenna is somewhat narrow banded so when I QSY I have to touch up the tuner fairly frequently. I can get right down to a 1:1 SWR no problem. I've managed to work a good part of Canada (from the east coast to as far as the central Canadian prairie provinces and up north to the Hudson's Bay region) and also a good chunk of the eastern and central U.S. I usually get 57 to 59 signal reports. No it is not like a 40m beam fed with a linear, but it does get me out on 40m, which I otherwise would not be able to do.

I'm still not sure what the radiation pattern is. I'm new to ham radio and have only been on HF a few weeks so I don't have hundreds of QSO's to help determine a pattern. However if someone were to tell me it was omnidirectinal in the horizontal plane I don't think I would argue with them. Even the fact that the antenna is so close to my house doesn't seem to make much of a difference. One of these days when I get a lot more QSO's on 40m I'll draw everything out on a map to see where my RF is getting to.

One thing is that because this antenna is a parallel tuned circuit it most definitely does not work outside the band. Even for receiving. With most antennas if you go to another band you can at least still receive some signals. Not with this antenna. Go to 20m or 80m and the radio is pretty quiet.

So far I'm happy with the performance. The RF is going out and people are hearing me. If you're lacking enough space to put up a wire antenna I would say the Isotron is worth a try.

The 40m version is the only one I've tried so I can't comment on the versions for other bands. I've also not had a need to deal with the company other than making the purchase so I can't comment on customer service.

Since putting it up I've noticed my neighbours gawking at it. Nobody's said anything yet but if they ask I'll just ask them right back what they think it is. If I tell them it's some sort of high tech bird feeder I'm sure they'll believe me since that's what it looks like.
 
OCEANARADIO Rating: 4/5 Nov 16, 2005 21:51 Send this review to a friend
150m works well  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
The good:
An outstanding listener, and for a small vertical, makes a very large footprint. It does not have to radiate the feedline to work.

The bad:
Low grade aluminum rods are as soft as butter, and this may not survive anywhere near its advertised wind speeds. I plan to lower it about 8' for any expected winds in excess of 50mph.

The ugly:
Contracted for a 2182 KHz antenna, and it was nowhere near that. Tuning was impossible, but the owner had suggestions which eventually did work, albeit after dozens of hours of meticulous measurements and work aloft.

Fine tuning cannot be measured on or near the ground, and involved adding vertical wires pulled down from the capacity hat. When it finally worked, it really worked. Its also easy to see why some might have gotten lucky on first few measurements, and others throw in the towel.

I am NOT radiating the feedline, at least not below the 15' of roof mounted mast, where several tight turns of RG-8X form a choke below the first shield-ground.

Air terminal bonding conductors (#4 solid) traverse the roof peaks where this is mounted. The Isotron's mast bonds to those conductors, and three ground rods tie to each down conductor. And the coax shield is grounded both at the mast/bonding connection and at the grounding bulhead where an ICE lightning impulse arrestor preceeds its connection to an MFJ-994 ATU. So the antenna is about as well grounded as it can be, and the lightning rod conductors may provide quite a set of both elevated and in the ground radials.

All I asked Bilal Co. to do was guarantee me at least 100 miles of summer-daytime coverage on low power (125w). He met and exceeded that with his product, which I had to modify slightly at his direction. Summer-daytime tx-range is about 200 miles on low power. Summer evenings it extends to several hundred miles without the linear. And as a listener, it is absolutely superb.

There was a disabled fishing vessel 460 miles away that might be happier with my Isotron than anything I can say, but the pleasure is all mine.

Oceana Radio
 
ND3F Rating: 5/5 Oct 24, 2005 10:16 Send this review to a friend
surprisingly great!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Have had the 80/40 Isotron combination which I took unassembled to a couple of island expeditions in the Caribbean--was easy to carry and assemble. Even at only 30' on a push up mast, it worked great--but I did have to fiddle with the tuning quite a bit. Bought the 160M version for use at home. Last year, mounted it to a leg of a low tower at 35', and worked 22 countries (yes, on 22 countries on 160M), including WAC during the CQWW test. It was too close to other antennas, and affected the tuning of the low tribander. So this weekend I put it up on a 30 pneumatic mast "in the clear"...again it was a bear to tune--but I added an 18" tuning rod perpendicular to the main adjustable rod, and got it to tune well from 1800-1880 (1.8:1 at the lowest end, 1.1:1 at 1830 and almost 3:1 at the higher end, without a tuner, but I use a tuner for operating). With 800w last night, I worked 10 countries including KP4, S5, LY3, OZ1, ES1, PJ2, SM5, PA, G and F, many on the first or second call. I heard some others (EA8, GM, I, 9G, but missed them this time). No kidding. This tiny 160M antenna at 30' really works...it just does...it's not as good as any full size antenna up high, but for my situation, it's super.
 
KG4RUL Rating: 0/5 Oct 10, 2005 10:05 Send this review to a friend
The Coax radiates as well as the antenna  Time owned: more than 12 months
I tried to tune up the 6M version of this 'joke' antenna. Tune it on the ground, put it up the pole, resonance and SWR changes, retune it on the ground, put it up the pole, resonance and SWR changes, repeat ad nauseum. Finally I decided it was as good as it was going to get.

I barely managed to contact another station and asked him to standby while I made a quick adjustment. Then I quickly pulled down the antenna hoisted just the coax on the pole.

Well what do you know! The other station said I went from an s3 to a 20 over s9.

Draw your own conclusions from my actual experience.

Dennis KG4RUL
 
KB7RGT Rating: 2/5 Oct 10, 2005 09:19 Send this review to a friend
Sent it back!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I tried the 160m version. Took me a couple of hours to assemble. Lying on the floor assembled it had a great SWR across the specified band width. On the tower (Rohn 25 @ 40'), I could not get it to tune, despite multiple calls to the guy who makes them, and multiple "try this" attempts to get it to work. Finally gave up and sent it back. The only positive about the experience was the telephone help - except that it was fruitless.
 
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