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Reviews Categories | Antennas: VHF/UHF+ Directional (Yagi, quad, etc.) | SOTA 2 metre 3 element beam Help

Reviews Summary for SOTA 2 metre 3 element beam
SOTA  2 metre 3 element beam Reviews: 7 Average rating: 4.4/5 MSRP: $70
Description: A backpacker's three element two metre beam with an optional carbon fibre fishing pole mast
Product is in production.
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M0TWA Rating: 5/5 Apr 20, 2009 17:22 Send this review to a friend
so muchfun to be had with one of these!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have been hill topping with quite a few 2 mtr beams, with one exception they all required a selection of tools to put them together and a substantial mast to get them aloft!..that one exception is the sota beam.. within 5 minutes you can be on air and calling cq, no tools required!!... radios I have used with the beam, ft-817, ft-290 mk1 and mk2 so we are talking 5 watts and less.. have worked dx regularly with this beam.. I cannot think of another product on the market that is so light weight compact and easy to use.. to give the beam a poor rating because of the croc clips coming off in the wind is harsh.. I had this problem once and cured it by taping the coax ( a good few turns of insulation tape)to the top end of the fishing pole about 8 inch below the beam.. stops the coax slapping in the wind and working the clips off.. end of problem. If you are feeling fit and want to go push iron portable then this is the beam to take with you,, I use a couple of rubber bungees to attach the beam and fishing pole to the top tube of bicycle frame while in transit.. radio and battery go in the to the the local hills we go..brilliant! This beam goes on all my holidays/vacations for afternoon/evening radio activity when partner and kids are in front of the tv.. for ssb or fm, horizontal or vertical polarization.... you can change over in minutes... just brilliant!!..looks like the new version of this beam builds on the good design of the mk1 and adds slightly better design features and gives you 70cms as well!!.. I may well be moving up to the mk2 version very soon!! well done sota beams for a very well thought through product!!
M3ZTW Rating: 5/5 May 30, 2007 22:06 Send this review to a friend
Very impressed  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I was looking for a solution for portable operation with my Yaesu VX170 handheld.
Out in the countryside the stock rubber ducky struggled unless on very high ground so I decided to invest in the SOTA beam.
The ancilleries pack away easily into a small rucksack leaving just the fishing pole and beam tube (elements contained within)to be easily carried by hand.
Worked into a repeater over 40 miles away as easy as anything as well as some nice simplex contacts.
As for other users problems with the croc clips coming detached from the beam elements I have found an easy solution. Just obtain a couple of spring loaded clamps or large clothes pegs and clamp the coax to the fibre glass pole , this then takes away the pressure created by rotation/wind movement from the coax and stops it pulling the clips off position.
GM7USC Rating: 5/5 Apr 26, 2006 03:01 Send this review to a friend
Does what it says  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Right I'm not into back packing but I do need a small beam for portable use hence the SOTA beam. I used mine just recently in North Devon as a portable station with my VX7R on 5 Watts in a poor VHF location. Was able to open up a few repeaters to enable me to have a blether with the locals :) This beam has been used in other locations as well.
Very easy to put together. No problems with the croc clips in a very windy seaside location. I also have the SOTA pole which is helpful to get the Beam up to a reasonable height. Takes about 5 minutes or less to erect on my own using this combination. Practicing in the back garden helps :) XYL must think I'm mad.
Due to the croc clips max input to this antenna is 10 watts, may well just change the coax connection method in the future but saying that I never use more than 10 watts on 2m apart from SSB. As this setup is for use with my handy thou may just leave well alone. I have other antennas for SSB on VHF such as a 11 ele tonna etc.

73 Gary G(M)7USC
M3HJD Rating: 1/5 May 13, 2005 03:10 Send this review to a friend
not the best around  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The biggest let down of this antenna is the fact that the croc clips are very prone to coming off on a regular basis especialy in the windy conditions that prevale on summits. They then require the antenna to be lowered to reclip and then raise the mast again this is a real shortfall for this product!!!
M0MRR Rating: 5/5 Oct 8, 2004 04:01 Send this review to a friend
Great little product  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought this beam at a recent radio show. It assembled easily and the SWR was negligable - as advertised. It is a well made product that is very light and very portable. Good after sales service from the supplier. I would reccomend this product for field trips.
MI3UCS Rating: 5/5 Apr 7, 2004 12:06 Send this review to a friend
First use good  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Well, i saw this nice looking antenna on Waters and Stanton and thought this looks nice, so i got the option with 'fishing rod' and the beam. I got it through in a few days and opened it up. First of all I got the beam out, and quickly put it together and connected it up to the 817, and pointed it roughly towards GB3GD and keyed up, amazingly, even on 2.5 watts through a wall, the repeater opened.

The next night C.A.R.G was having a bit of a get together down at a local public area, and i brought this antenna down to have a go. I got it connected up, on the SOTA beam and quite close to the edge of a slight hill. I then called cq using 2.5 watts on SSB, pointing the beam towards Scotland. At first I didnt get any returned calls, but i kept going, after all, i was only running QRP. Eventually a scottish station came back to me saying he was also using 2.5 watts and his signal was 56 at best. I was quite happy with that first QSO, and i will hopefully get a lot of use of this brilliant antenna.

One fault i can find with it is when you are pushing the elements through the first time, they are very easy to bend, but this is no longer a problem. I think if i had a more reliable method of connection to the elements i would run higher power on it, especially when i get a higher class of license.
G6HVY Rating: 5/5 Aug 30, 2003 17:33 Send this review to a friend
A fine addition to the backpacker's armoury  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Backpacking radio's big and getting bigger - but what are you going to use for an antenna? When you're a long way from the nearest AC outlet you need all the gain you can get that doesn't eat precious amps. You can't pack a seventeen element yagi on a tower, but a portable beam, together with some way to hoist it into the ether, would sound just the ticket.

SOTA - Summits On The Air - is an organisation dedicated to ruining a nice country walk with all that amateur radio nonsense, and to go with it radioactive rambler supremo Richard Newstead, G3CWI, has set up SOTA Beams. Its first product is called just the SOTA Beam -- no WundaYagi Xtreem 3000 Pro type product names for these guys, thank goodness.

The beam comes in a one metre long inch-wide white PVC tube, pre-drilled with the element mounting holes and topped and tailed with soft rubber caps. Uncap your tube, and out come four elements - one director, one reflector and two driven. These slide through the mounting holes: a clip on the element stops it at the right place and you then slide on an O-ring from the other side to finish. The kit also includes five metres of stranded-core RG-58 with a BNC at one end and croc clips on the other. Even including adding the element end caps -- to prevent passing pigeons from getting their eyes poked out, I suppose -- you'd be hard pressed to take more than two minutes to get everything connected. It takes a bit longer the first time, as the holes are slightly too small for the elements and you need to give it some welly in sliding them in, with a slight risk of bending the elements if you're not careful (I wasn't. They're OK now). After a few assemblings and disassemblings, they become a lot looser and you'll need the O-rings. They're tiny. Don't lose them. You probably will, so SOTA Beams includes a couple of spares.

All that's fine, but you'd look a bit of a kipper standing there on top of a mountain holding up the beam. So you can get a SOTA Pole - actually a Shakespeare fishing pole - which has 6.7 metres of carbon fibre telescoping up into the wide blue wotsit. The beam itself has two mounting brackets, one horizontal and one vertical, and the beam sits around four metres up the pole. The kit also includes three guy ropes, three ground pegs and a guy ring: once you've got everything knotted together (a one-off job taking about five minutes even if you're - pardon the expression - ham-fisted) it's done.

After a test assembly in the front room, I and my teenage son took the SOTA Beam and pole up to Hampstead Heath, a large open space in North London noted for its wide variety of recreational activities. I didn't time myself, but even given much traditional father-son badinage it was five minutes from picking our spot to getting the beam in the air. Having a spare pair of hands helps, but is by no means necessary.

I got an SWR of about 1.3:1 at 144.3 MHz -- there's no adjustment possible -- and although I was a bit chary about using croc clips, they do a perfectly good job. In an antenna designed to be rebuilt every time you use it, weatherproofing isn't really a factor -- sensibly, though, the clip end of the coax is sealed with glue.

Conditions were dead flat on my first trial, so I just made some local contacts. They seemed to bear out the claimed 12 dBi gain when I dropped the power on my FT-817 to 500mW and swung the beam around using my integrated Armstrong rotator. As an experiment, I also ran a wire from the top of the pole at 45 degrees down to my Z11 autotuner and had a pop at 40, 20 and 15m. Not very successful, but with the higher bands very quiet and the lower ones stuffed full of contest hounds I wasn't motivated to try for too long. As a skyhook to get your HF wire up away from the muck, it's mechanically fine and I expect to be running both VHF and HF as a matter of course when I go out to play.

The beam is rated at ten watts max. I had a 30 watt linear with me and of course couldn't resist: there were no problems, but perhaps I'd be happier with a slightly more robust connection method on the driven elements before doing much of this. The combo of 30 watts, DYC-817 compressor, this beam and my '817 should be a very potent portable station when conditions are hot and I'm somewhere exotic: I very much look forward to finding out, as it'll be perfectly feasible to backpack this via low-cost airlines for one-man DXpeditioning on a very reasonable budget.

Teardown was also painless, as was strapping the beam and the pole to the backpack. When you're lugging around a rig, tuner, compressor, cables, gel cell and a refreshing beverage, the extra 800g of the pole and 200-odd g of the beam is neither here nor there.

I'm very happy with this product: it does what it claims, and is clearly the result of many, many hours experience at the sharp and soggy end of portable operations. The price may seem a bit steep, and you could easily build something similar out of coat-hanger wire, bamboo and plumber's tape -- I have done so myself -- but the whole ensemble is so neat and convenient that I don't begrudge a penny of it. I haven't mentioned the instructions because they did their job too: they're short, sweet and complete, even including knot-tying instructions for the guy rope.

One unexpected extra. In the three hours or so I spent on top of Parliament Hill among the kite-flyers, dog-walkers and other strolling players, I had five people come up to me and ask "What on earth are you doing?". I've probably done more PR for amateur radio in those three hours than I have in years sitting in the shack, and that feels good.

You can buy the beam and/or poles in a number of combinations, and I recommend you check out the website for these. The price given here is my rough dollar conversion of the retail price sans postage and packing from the UK: I don't know if SOTA Beams is set up for shipping abroad, so you should talk to them if you want to know.

Looking forward to lots of on-air rambling...

Rupert Goodwins, G6HVY

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