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Reviews Categories | Antennas: HF: Yagi, Quad, Rotary dipole, LPDA | Cushcraft MA5B Mini Beam Help

Reviews Summary for Cushcraft MA5B Mini Beam
Cushcraft MA5B Mini Beam Reviews: 148 Average rating: 4.6/5 MSRP: $365.00
Description: Cushcraft's newest multiband HF antenna provides 5 bands
Product is in production.
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ON7HLU Rating: 5/5 Dec 20, 2012 05:48 Send this review to a friend
Great little beam  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have this antenna the ma5b already larger than half a year, and it works great !!!
it is littel and not havy on top of my versa tower.
low coast!!!

simply to assemble take me 45min to get it work

i use with my expert solide stat amp 1kw and it stil work fine
M0TMC Rating: 2/5 Dec 13, 2012 05:23 Send this review to a friend
vs hexbeam NO CONTEST  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
The MA5B is ok as a compromise antenna where size is a factor. it has quite a narrow bandwidth & since being made by mfj is does have some q.c issues. That said, I was quite happy with mine until i got the g3txq hexbeam!! The difference is night & day. the hex has no lossy traps & is a full size 2 ele beam on each band. no tuners required either.. and seems to have a smaller footprint than the cushcraft.

in conclusion the HEXBEAM is the new ma-5b.
KD8OPI Rating: 2/5 Dec 1, 2012 23:32 Send this review to a friend
UPDATE from 6 APR review  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
See that 6 APR 2012 review for my frustrations with the U-bolts on Step 1 of the instruction manual that were the wrong size. After spending more money at the local hardware store to replace the incorrect parts, I was able to build the antenna. It wasn't too hard after the right parts were acquired- at additional cost to me. It went up without too much hassle.

I have it only about 20 feet up, and it can "hide" behind some walls of trees/tall shrubs in my back yard and not be visible from my front yard. Overall, the performance has been good. It tunes easily with a tuner to ensure low swr on all 5 bands; though on 20m your autotuner will fight to get it under 2:1 at 14.000 if you set the length of your 20m elements to 14.200.

I think that performance-wise it does as expected, with noticeable improvement in gain or S/N ratios by 2-3 S-units on 10,15 and 20m when compared with my 31ft S9 vertical with 32 radials. 12 and 17m get a big help with the their dipole on the kit.

I would have given it a 4/5 or a 5/ 5, I really love using it, but shipping the wrong parts for step-1 can't be ignored, an thus it gets a "2" for "needs help".
K7NA Rating: 5/5 Dec 1, 2012 12:01 Send this review to a friend
Assembled Smoothly  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Unlike a few reviewers here, my MA5B went together very smoothly, with no missing, damaged or incorrect parts. In fact, the assembly was without problem and I checked and rechecked each step to ensure I was following the instructions to the letter. The result is a well engineered antenna that exhibits good SWR across the upper bands and reasonable SWR on that portion of 20 meters of interest. The instructions were clear and simple to follow and the parts quality was good, with stainless clamps, nuts, bolts and washers. I mounted my antenna on a six-foot mast with a TV rotator right on the edge of a 220-foot (70-meter) bluff that drops directly to sea water in the north and eastern directions of interest. I was expecting the ground behind the antenna to impact the SWR curves but was surprised how little influence it exhibited. I am able to work Europeans easily with a single call running 100 watts. So far, I am pleased with the quality and performance of this antenna.
OH1LA Rating: 5/5 Oct 1, 2012 13:29 Send this review to a friend
What would be better?  Time owned: more than 12 months
I would like to go a little bigger and better 5 band antenna.
MA5B is good and I've got it all who will hear.
However, I've used a linear amplifier (SB-220) in big pileups.
Suitable for a better antenna is hard to find because the elements are not exceed 8 meters.
Tell me the old MA5B, the owners of which will get a better antenna signal, and supports antenna replacement?
KK8ZZ Rating: 5/5 Sep 29, 2012 13:18 Send this review to a friend
Great little antenna!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Great value ! Tunes easily without external tuners.. easy to mount and turn even with a very light "TV" rotor as it really doesnt' weigh much. Provides FULL 20-10 coverage, including WARC bands.. very effective little Yagi for the $500 price !
KD5J Rating: 3/5 Aug 14, 2012 20:42 Send this review to a friend
OK Antenna  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
First of all, what oths have said about the u-bolts not fitting the boom when attaching the boom-to-mast plate are true. The u-bolts are way too small. It performs well and I had fun with it. It has quality control issues since it is now manufactured by MFJ. Never run any power into the antenna, even going by the manual, it will damage the traps. I developed a problem on 20m, and it de-tuned. I could still transmit, but I did not have a resonant point. The MA5B has been replaced by a hexbeam.
DL3MLP Rating: 5/5 Jun 20, 2012 04:53 Send this review to a friend
First Review  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I own this little Beam for about 3 month now. It replaced the AV-620 vertical. It is mounted about 30 feet above ground.

I am very happy to found a small yagi which fits on my small roof. The only alternate is the MQ-36SR. But here you have to pay the double price! Or a hexbeam. But this will be the project after the MA5B.

The countries are increasing week by week. But very long distances Germany --> Indonesa were better with the vertical. The cause may be the low hight I mounted the yagi.
W1EMQ Rating: 5/5 Jun 6, 2012 21:05 Send this review to a friend
UPDATE to July 2011 review  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
This is one rugged antenna when properly put together and all clamps and craddles are tightened. I've had winds of up to 60 mph and heavy icing this past winter and the mini-beam is still up. I found by turning the antenna so the elements point toward the wind that this minimized vibration and rotator twist. Despite previous reviews regarding 100 Hz bandwidth on 20, I can work both low-end cw and high-end ssb with a 1.0:1 SWR with my Ten-Tec Jupiter ATU. Good SWR on the other 4 bands as well. I've worked Mixed DXCC with the mini-beam and snagged DXpeditions through wicked pile-ups, even on 12 & 17, where there is only a single element (basically a rotatable trapped dipole). I run only 100w (up to 180w with an old boat anchor Drake TR-4) and the mini is only up 20 feet, but it is an excellent performer for the money and size. I might add that every installation is unique and one ham's good results may not be the same for another's based on many factors that affect performance, as well as good propagation and operating skills ... whether it's a $400 MA5B or wide-spaced yagi costing 5-times more; whether at 20ft or 120ft; or just an end-fed wire or a tuned rain gutter.
G6NHU Rating: 3/5 Apr 22, 2012 04:16 Send this review to a friend
Be very aware of the limitations of this aerial.  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Be aware of the limitations of this aerial before you buy it.

I like to operate using both SSB and data and if I want to use my amplifier then that means I have to keep lowering and adjusting the end sections when I switch between SSB and data on 20m.

My rig ATU can cope perfectly but I don't want to be using an amplifier with an SWR of over 4:1 outside of the 100kHz or so that the MA-5B covers on 20m.

On the other bands it's fine, it tunes perfectly over the whole band but not on 20m. The documentation does list this narrow bandwidth on 20m but this is my first HF beam and I hadn't realised what a limitation it would prove to be.

Secondly, don't expect to be able to run QRO for extended periods of time without damaging the aerial. I read many reviews which described traps melting but thought that I'd be OK running 400 watts which is the UK power limit but I was wrong.

I first destroyed one of the coax tails between the matching network (a 1:1 balun) and the 12/17m element, even though I was transmitting on 20m at the time and after I replaced the entire network with a 1:1 balun from Balun Designs and two home made coax tails, I then managed to melt one of the MT1 traps on the 10m/15m/20m element, again running just 400 watts.

Cushcraft were very good and replaced the trap with no charge but all these problems have made me very wary of the aerial and I've already ordered a G3TXQ Hexbeam to replace it with.

Now to the plus points.

It's better than any HF aerial I'd had up before for these bands. I've always used wire aerials so to get a beam with a small amount of gain and some directionability really opened things up for me. The first station I worked was VR2XMT in Hong Kong for a new DXCC and then the next QSO was T32C.

It's easy to put together, the instructions are brief but nicely explanatory. It took me a couple of hours to get it all done.

I've had no problems with windmilling. My MA-5B is around 35ft above the ground and it's been up all through the winter when we had winds up to 50mph. I have it on a medium duty rotator (Yaesu G650C) and it hasn't moved or twisted at all.

Watch out for birds though, Starlings in particular like to perch on it and I resolved that by putting a couple of hundred cable ties over the whole aerial with about a four inch gap between them with the end left pointing upwards. They still sometimes perch on the capacitance hats but nowhere near as much as before.

I've rated the MA-5B as 3/5 because I'm taking into account the poor QRO handling capabilities and the narrow bandwidth on 20m. If I could rate it as 3.5 then that would be more realistic, somewhere between OK and Good. If I'd written this review after two weeks then it would have got 5/5 because the limitations hadn't manifested themselves by then.
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