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Reviews Categories | Antennas: HF: Vertical, Wire, Loop | SteppIr BigIr Vertical Help

Reviews Summary for SteppIr BigIr Vertical
SteppIr BigIr Vertical Reviews: 60 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $759
Description: 40 to 6 meters 1/4 vertical- no traps, coils or capacitors.
can be used as a 3/4 wave vertical 21mhz and above. 32 ft length, radials required.
Product is in production.
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E72U Rating: 3/5 Aug 12, 2015 05:50 Send this review to a friend
I doubt I would have bought this ANT again  Time owned: more than 12 months
I am living in very populated and lowermost part of city (ASL ~90m) with individual houses and very small yards, so there is no space for towers, beams, nor long wire antennas,

WX conditions here are continental climate, winters with moderate snowfall, and temps rarely below 0 degrees Celsius, summers with usual temps between 20-30 dgs C,

I was impressed by the Steppir idea of variable length of antenna, and I bought Steppir BiggIR MKIII with 80m Coil and External Balun in 2008 (got a old antenna controller, not SDA100 which they sell today),

Mounted it on the roof of my house, some 12m over ground, with 18 quarters-wave radials (9 pairs, one pair for each band 6-80m, I needed to install and 10th pair for 75m but no space available, it works in SSB part of band somehow using AT of my FT2K),

This antenna is perfect optimum for available space I have,

I am satisfied with its performances too, specially in TX (using just 100W in CW/SSB, and 50W in digital modes), RX side is not great, but usable (problem with verticals in general),

I done a lot of DXes on 80m where it is just eights-wave long (almost 150 DXCC countries), as well as more than 60 DXCC countries on 6m (mostly EU), best DX results I made on 30-40 bands, as well on 15m band (using three quarters-wave mode on 15m and upper bands),

On the other side, I'm pretty disappointed with electrical and mechanical design of antenna and lack of robustness,

Problems I had in last 7 years:
1. Y2008 - antenna controller - driver chips burned - Steppir change them under warranty with no cost for me, but I had to pay shipping costs which were abt $200,
2. Y2012 - Plastic spindle between shaft of a step motor and a rotary traction part was broken inside EHU, and controller chips burned again - repaired with help of OC E74OW who is great mechanic, and E71DX who is great electronics engineer, and of course Steppir email support,
3. Y2015 - broken core inside balun - probably water entered, frozen and broke the core, core changed,

That I may be mounted it on the ground level, I might have not all these problems, or make them easier to solve, but on the other hand, given the proximity of nearby houses, would have worse performance and interference problems,

Scarce documentation, but good email support,

Pretty expensive, especially for us living very far away from USA,

I doubt I would have bought this ANT again, antennas such as Butternut HF9V are much cheaper and much easier to maintain,

I do not believe that the difference in performances is worth so much effort into maintaining and such wide differences in price,

73, Vedo E72U.
KD0ZV Rating: 5/5 Apr 3, 2015 13:26 Send this review to a friend
Except for the manual.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have to admit before this antenna ever left the garage to be installed I had intended to drop my review to 4/5 because of the poorest written manual I have ran across in recent years. It is filled with errors, hard to follow directions and a multitude of other issues. If the performance of the antenna was not what I expected I would have dropped my review even lower. However, the performance of the antenna panned out AND the support of Jim at SteppIR (K4DLI) was so far above and beyond that I decided to forgive the awful documentation and give the product a 5/5.

I opted for the 80 meter coil add-on and the PTT lockout board for the controller. The $90 price on the PTT lockout is ridiculous and with a little intelligent engineering SteppIR should be able to incorporate that as standard for about $2.00.

The performance of the antenna is excellent on most bands. Surprisingly the 80 meter performance is not bad. Its not going to run with a 1/2 wave dipole in most instances however if you are confined to a city lot or have covenants this will easily get you on 80 and do a decent job.

On the other end of the spectrum is 6 meters. I don't see where this will ever be a contender there. In the 1/4 wave mode with the 80 meter add-on the copper tape is only about 20" extended. So doubt you are going much of a signal out with that. In the 3/4 wavelength mode the copper tape extends to about 105" in my installation so that might work a little bit better.

I also have a zero-five 43' vertical that I never installed. A zero-five along with a remote tuner might be a better choice for some people except you are limited on power.

The BigIR performance on 10-40 is top notch.

So despite the crappy manual (and website) I would highly recommend the antenna. Just be advised the manuals are poorly written and the documentation you receive for the controller is old and outdated and you wont figure it out without making a phone call. Hopefully SteppIR will resolve this.
W5CRY Rating: 5/5 Nov 30, 2013 18:02 Send this review to a friend
5 Year Maintenance  Time owned: more than 12 months
With the kind assistance of NJ5N we pulled down the BigIR Vertical today after five (5) years of perfect operation.

Opening the EHU it was clean as a whistle, not one drop of water or spider web was found. Replaced gasket and added the "optional" Wind Brace.

I had long wondered about the endurance of the EHU case with all the stress from 40 feet of antenna swaying in the wind, no cracks or problems were found.

Repainted the upper telescopic portion with Krylon Fusion green, recommended by SteppIR and replaced the tape with the new Heat Shrink sleeving.

Added the new Boots at the bottom and base of the telescopic section and stood the BigIR back up.

Backing working as always and hopefully for another five (5) years.

W5CRY Rating: 5/5 Oct 21, 2013 11:34 Send this review to a friend
Five Years Old  Time owned: more than 12 months
My SteppIR Big IR Vertical is now five (5) years old.

It has provided excellent service with never one second of problems.

The upper sections are turning white from sun exposure, so I just ordered a new gasket for the EHU, sealing tape (now shrink tubing), top rain cap and will be taking it down for maintenance and some paint in the next week or two.

I have some concerns when winds came up as it does sway quite a bit, it is un-guyed, but so far no problems.

I am curious to see what the inside of the EHU looks like, hopefully it has survived in good condition.

So far--So Good, the antenna has met or exceeded my expectations.
N8WXQ Rating: 5/5 Sep 15, 2013 13:57 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Vertical Antenna  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have the SteppIR BigIR with 80m coil. The antenna is a 1/4 wave vertical 80m -6m. On 15-6m the antenna can be in 3/4 wave mode. The coil is used for 60 and 80m operation. The antenna is 1/8 wave on 80m. I used a DX Enginneering radial plate with 40 32 foot radials in my set up. The DX engineering radial plate is a great labor saver. DX engineering even made the radial wires that I used. (Easy to do yourself but takes time) The antenna performes very well I even worked a few EU stations on 80m this past July.

The antenna is fairly easy to set up. The instructions can be a bit confusing in places but careful study with get you through. Customer service is good should you need it.

The controller is easy to use. Do get the accessory to allow rig control - you will be sorry if you don't.

The controller allows for the creation of "virtual" antennas for each of the bands. The user adjusts the physical length of the antenna to give optimal SWR on each band. An MFJ-259B or the like is useful for this task. On 40 - 6m there is a 1/4 antenna. On 15 - 6m. there is also a 3/4 wave antenna that must be seperately optimized.(The manual is not clear on this point)
On 80 and 60 m the coil is tapped 6 positions. These positions are labled 1 -6 or 0 to 5 depending on the version of the controller.

Tap 6 is used for 3400 -3500kHz
Tap 5 is used for 3500 - 3600 kHz
Tap 4 is used for 3600 - 3750 kHz
Tap 3 is used for 3750 - 5200 kHz
Tap 2 is used for 60 m
Tap 1 is used for 40m +

The above information is not in the documentation that I recieved.(TNX K2MK) Each of the tap regions for 80 and 60m must be treated as a seperate antenna. Setting controller to a freqency just above the bottom of the frequency interval and adjusting for minimum SWR seems to work well. (e.g. set controller to 3510 kHz for Tap 5).

I also noted that the anttenna should be recalibrated if power is lost or removed from controller. This easy to do and takes less than a minute. It does not involve tuning each of the bands.

It would be useful for Steppir to include control line voltages and typical resistances in the supplied documents. This is available from Steppir and helps trouble shooting should it be necessary. Before checking the voltages at the back of the controller read the instructions from Steppir and don't short the pins otherwise the controller can be damaged.

The performance very good for a vertical. Customer Service is excellent. A few bits if data, however, would take some of the installation pain out.
W2PD Rating: 5/5 Mar 26, 2013 11:50 Send this review to a friend
terrific antenna  Time owned: more than 12 months
I live in an antenna restricted neighborhood and was looking for the most inconspicuous antenna that would still allow me to work some DX. Eighteen months ago I chose the Steppir BigIR and have been quite pleased with it. I put down about 50 radials (25 to 33 ft) and covered the base unit with a “resin rock” from Home Depot. The antenna is in my backyard and virtually invisible from the street. In spite of being surrounded by trees the antenna works very well; it follows the frequency of my K3 and KPA500 perfectly and will not allow transmission until the antenna stops tuning (make sure that you get both options on the controller). My SWR is always 1:1 and I can easily work 12 and 17 meters along with the more traditional bands. With very casual operating (I work full time plus) I have over 100 counties confirmed.

A few weeks ago my control cable shorted and the controller stopped working. Jim Streible (K4DLI), provides technical support for Steppir and was the perfect “Elmer”. After asking me to make a series of resistance and voltage measurements he figured out the problem. After having me replace 2 resistors and a chip I was back on the air. With any other company I suspect I would have had to send the controller back to the factory.

Yes, the antenna is more complex and expensive than most but the advantages; including superb after-market support, make it a wise purchase for those that cannot put up a tower and beam.
K7ER Rating: 5/5 Mar 20, 2013 10:57 Send this review to a friend
BigIr Rocks!!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
On 2-8-13 I decided to order a Steppir BigIr Vertical, made the call talked with Bart. I gave him my info and what my goal was and placed the order. Bart called me on 2-22-13 and said the BigIr was ready to ship! I was like YESSSS!. I got the antenna in 3 days after, very pleased with the service.
I am not going to go into all the parts detail, I do not need to explain the whole manual either.
I checked all the boxes did an inventory of all the items: Antenna, 80m coil, controller, controller wire, Icom interface cable, balun & instructions . All was complete. A few days went by I put the entire antenna together without a hitch.
I mounted the antenna on the aluminum pipe and slid it into my existing pipe I already had cemented In the ground. Fished the two control cable thru my 1 ½” buried pvc conduit attached the cables to the EHU and the coil . I then attached the 80m coil to my DX engineering plate with a pc of copper stip 4” wide from 4 bolts on the plate to the 80m coil unit. My extensive radial field consists of the DX engineering radial plate and 106 radials ranging for 16’ up to 66’ in a semi rectangular pattern.
I wired the controller connector to the two cables plugged it into the controller. Plugged the Icom cable to my 756P3, plugged it into the wall and off I went. I first made sure that the controller new it was hooked to the Icom, set the baud rate then did a calibration. The controller dose a great job of following the frequency.
All the bands have a great swr 1.5 or better most were flat. At first 80 was off the chart! But the realized that I had to reconfigure the set points that were defaulted with the eznac program that Steppir used to set up the parameters. These points are generic and must be tailored due to your installation, ie surroundings, proximity to structure, ground conductivity , metallic objects, etc etc.
I have only used it for a week or so. I have noticed quite a difference between my 43’ vertical mostly 20 meters on up, the ¾ wave setting seems to work great. My 43’ vertical worked real well on 75/80 and 40m, but I had to use a tuner and I know I was losing something with the tuner and a non resonate antenna. The tuner was in the shack and the only tuner that I could find that would work at the base of the antenna would be the new MFJ remote tuner, but the review was not good. So the answer was the BigIr. My elmer said the the best antenna is a resonate antenna and so far I am impressed. I did make a few calls to Jim with tech support and I have to say the Jim was great and answered all my questions. The customer support is amazing.
I did work a few quite a few DX stations on 20 mostly South America and some ZL & VK’s when I was testing. All was good with even a huge solar flare.
I will up date my review as time passes when I have more experience with the BigIr.
K7ER Nevada
PS. Special thanks to Joe N6MM for providing me all the wire for my radial field wire and Pete WB6DOQ for Elmering me all these years and Eric AK6Y for all the support
AB9TX Rating: 5/5 Sep 25, 2012 10:20 Send this review to a friend
Great Antenna  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
After a few weeks with this vertical I am very impressed with it, smooth tuning up and down the bands. With the transciever interface the SteppIR follows the VFO nicely.
Added the 80 meter coil option and it works. No problems getting out to europe with a few trys and Alaska which I have never heard with the G5RV. Running only 24 radials initially- will be adding more- no joy here with burying radials in the hot summer- but well worth it.
Fine tuning the swr with the controller depending on your enviromental conditions is what sets this antenna above all others. Expensive - yes. The manual is currently being updated, the current one is slightly difficult to sort through. Customer service is great, quick responses for questions. SteppIR has a nice product here...
I will buy another when this one dies.
W4MAY Rating: 2/5 Jun 3, 2012 13:49 Send this review to a friend
Two owned two dead  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned STEPPIR products since 2005. My first BIGIR died died after 4 years. Water intrusion and corrosion caused a significant amount of damage. The unit was so far gone not even a new EHU would not have helped. The fiberglass poles were so corroded that the thing was a total loss. Mike at STEPPIR gave me a 10% discount and I ordered another one (a MK III).

This one lasted 3 years. After three years -- the base of the EHU cracked and came down in a 35 MPH wind. The antenna has always been guyed. Note STEPPIR now has modification that strengthens this area. Too late for me.

So words of advice. Live in a high rain/wind and UV area STAY AWAY from this product. The long term survivability is questionable.

Note -- I have 2 element STEPPIR up since 2006 with no issues. That product I love.
VE6SQ Rating: 5/5 May 6, 2012 22:36 Send this review to a friend
I love it!  Time owned: more than 12 months
some time has passed since I first reviewed my BigIr

I have been less than happy with the sun (but then who hasn't!). In spite of that, My DXCC count is now sitting at 112 countries (and I seldom hunt for DX) and I have WAS on 20. 49 on 40 & 15, 45 on 80 and 42 on 10. Still 3 QSOs away from the triple play - but that will come soon. I have been very happy with it's performance in the various contests - having racked up more than 8000 QSOs since my first report. It certainly is not in the same league as a beam, but I am more than happy with it - now if only the sun would just behave itself!!

Villy ve6sq

A 160 option would be interesting as well - I would give up the 60m tape for a chunk of 160!

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