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


Reviews Summary for Spiderbeam
Spiderbeam Reviews: 27 Average rating: 4.4/5 MSRP: $300
Description: The spider beam is a full size lightweight yagi for made of fiberglass and wire. While the antenna is as light as a mini beam it maintains the gain and F/B ratio of a typical full size tribander. The whole antenna weight is only 5.5kg (11 lbs) making it ideally suited for portable use. It can be carried and installed easily by a single person.
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.spiderbeam.com
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AE7AE Rating: 5/5 Jan 4, 2013 16:07 Send this review to a friend
Spiderbeam is great for DXpeditions!  Time owned: more than 12 months
We used the 5-band light-weight Spiderbeam on 3 DXpeditions (2010-11-12)
to 3D2A, 3D2P, T2T.
We managed over 60,000 QSO's with the spiderbeam only 7-10m high.
It really outperformed the aluminum yagi's we had on previous
DXpeditions (3D2A-3D2EE-VI9NI)
At first it was very confusing to assemble (English mind trying to
understand German logic), but, we finally got the hang of it!
It has been assembled/disassembled/reassembled 5 times and the only
problem was a crack in one of the lightweight spreaders.
Plus all the shipping handling... We are very happy users and will
continue to use it on future DXpeditions by the Pacific DXers.
For temporary use, we never used the lower guys.
I will agree that you must have 7x7m of clear level space to erect it if
possible!
We found that the easiest and fastest erection method was to assemble it
at the 5' height level, then simply push up and lock the mast sections
to the height needed.
We rotate it with a $25 second-hand Alliance/CDR TV antenna rotator.
Yes it flops about in the wind, but we are glad that it does...otherwise
the spreaders might snap if it was too stiff!
 
TA2RX Rating: 4/5 Sep 17, 2012 20:33 Send this review to a friend
SpiderBeam Antenna: The untold story  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
The antenna is everything advertised: It is a yagi. It is multiband. It is lightweight. It is portable. It works FB. You get excellent reports. etc. etc. BUT there is more. Here is my full story:

After reading all the comments about the antenna, I bought the five band version at the HamFest @ Friedrichshafen. Taking it to our nearest dxpedition I was faced with several surprises. The first was that the manual was totally in German and I do not speak a single word of it. When I corresponded with the company afterwards, they told me it was because it was sold it Germany and apologized for forgetting to warn me in the crowded atmosphere of the fair. I downloaded the English version of it from their website afterwards. Fair enough.

My next surprise was that there was one spool of wire, one spool of Kevlar fibre and one spool of monofilament guy line (like those used for fishing), besides the tubes, etc. Now, I might be wrong in this but to consider something like this as a kit, I would have expected the wires, etc. to be precut to the size specified. To me, getting a whole spool(s) and afterwards struggling to cut pieces to the exact specs, sounds like going to a large wholesale shop (and paying retail prices) to buy the parts for your antenna project.

Anyway, looking at the pictures I managed to assemble the centre piece that holds the tubes together in a cross. When I read the documentation in English, afterwards at home, I saw that for mounting the sleeves (little aluminum tubes that the bolts go through) they have suggested using a piece of cardboard. However, before being able to read the manual in English I thought that was some piece of metal provided by the company and had to look for it over and over again. When I finally decided it must be something I have to make, I used a piece of hard wire instead. I bent one of its edges in to a U shape and squeezed it after wrapping it on to the sleeve. This way it would hold the sleeve properly under the whole, rather than just pushing it forward. I suggested this method, together with some photos, to the company. They might add it to the future versions of the documentation.

Now, once I went over the manual thoroughly, I started the preassembly process. I have to warn you this is something VERY time consuming and VERY tiring. It definitely takes AT LEAST a few days to prepare the parts. So, if you intend to use it portable, like me, get your parts ready well in advance. It is not something you can assemble and put up on the dx spot straight away.

In getting the kevlar to go through the tiny holes, I had exactly the same problems VO1AU mentions. So I asked the company if there was an easy way of doing this and they immediately sent me a saparate documentation on how to do this properly. At this point I have got two comments to make: First, the support is incredibly fast and friendly. I haven't seen such service anywhere else, and this is no exageration. Second, the document they have sent me should have been included in the standard documentation at the beginning.

As many others have already pointed out, the documentation needs a lot of revising. Something that have not been mentioned by others is that, the spooling order on p.12 misses the additional bands for the 5 bander and I could not find any such info in other parts of the doc. either. Until I started assembling the antenna I did not know which element should go on the spool in which order, to make life easier during actual assembly. For those who are wondering, you start the assembly by the innermost elements and go one by one towards the outer ones. So, spooling is in reverse order. You start with the outermost element, leaving the innermost element on the exterior of the spool.

For the actual fabrication, my friend, who suggested SpiderBeam in the first place told me he had read it takes 4 hours to do the preparations. That is nonsense. It took me 3 to 4 days to finish it as a solo job. (And I am someone who is good in such things.) The part that took the longest time is measuring and cutting the wires, the monofil guys and the Kevlar to the exact specs. I needed to measure every item at least 3 or 4 times to make sure it is exactly as specified because according to the documentation "even 1 cm makes a big difference". (I am someone who reads and takes documentation seriously.)

Worse, in adjusting the lengths of the guys, you need to measure them over and over again. Now, you might wonder what the big deal is. There are 5 reflectors, 4 directors, 5 driven elements (the one for 15m is in 2 pieces), two guy lines for each of these elements and 5 feed lines. That makes a total of 50 LONG items to measure PRECISELY. First, you'll need a spacious place to be able to do this (or a VERY understanding wife). Second, you'll need to be on foot while you measure all these lengths over and over again (about 150 measurements over all). If you are not someone young, energetic, capable of working on foot for long hours for a few days, you'll start feeling the pain in your feet very soon. The only thing you can do sitting down is to tie knots. And when I say tying knots, do not underestimate that either: You'll need to tie about 100 knots. Worse, many of these are to be tied on copper-steel mixture wire with the the help of a pair of pliers, while the ones on the guy lines need to be double knots. It DOES take time.

Once everything was cut and tied to precision, the next step was to get the boom ready. The documentation gives you exact measurements on where each velcro should be glued to. No problem. The problem starts once you finish doing this. Because one director and one reflector is supposed to be right at the ends of the tubes. However, when you do this you can not place the caps provided because the velcros are obstructing their way.

Worse, when you get to the actual assembly phase, you realize that documentation does not tell you clearly which element goes where and you are left with your imagination to figure out. On page 31 of the documentation there is a table that gives the distances of elements from the center but the drawing accompanying it gives the distances of elements in reference to each other. If you are assembling the antenna under hot oriental sun (42 degrees Celsius) like me, you do not realize the difference because you see only the last column of the table that has got similar figures on both.

The last column of the table gives the same distances for the drivers for 20m and 12m (40cm), and those for 17m and 10m (80cm). Of these, one of them is marked as minus, the other one as plus but you are expected to figure out which part is minus and which one is plus? I had to find these out by trial and error, too (and the only clue was the lengths of the feedlines, that were too short on one side).

The documentation is written as if to make you sorry you have not paid the extra 150 Euros and ordered the antenna preassembled. Knowing the order of the elements gives you a clue but in my case, when I reached the stage of assembling the driven elements I realized, one of them needed to go on the innermost velcro and I had already placed the 10m reflector there. This meant having to disassemble everything, readjust all lengths and assemble the antenna from scratch. Grrrr! Next time, I marked on the boom, where each element should be tied to.

Fortunately, once everything was in place, the SWRs looked allright. I raised the antenna to above 10m and it worked perfect. However, by the time I had managed all this, the IOTA contest, for which we went on to Kefken Island DXpedition, was over. Thank God we had other operators and simple, cheap, homemade wire antennas that worked FB. I worked a few DX for the lighthouse activity before disassembling the antenna for our next DXpedition to Karadeniz Eregli Oluce Lighthouse.

Unfortunately this is not the whole story. With everything ready and in working order, on our next DXpedition, the assembly was supposed to be straight forward, easy and fast. It was not! The ends of the boom and spreaders were supposed to be bent towards the top but they insisted on going sideways instead. This meant some of the elements were too tight while some others were to loose. Trying to straighten the fibre tubes and at the same time readjust the lengths of elements and guy lines was a nightmare. Once again, it took me several hours to do this. Fortunately we, again, had other operators to keep our station going on with simple, cheap, homemade wire antennas, while I was struggling with the SpiderBeam. Once everything was ready, it worked FB, as predicted and we got excellent reports again.

When the time came to pack and get ready to leave, disassemling the antenna took me 1 hour 45 minutes. Part of this was because the tubes were too stuck onto each other and we had to struggle quite a while to get them apart. I realized this was because the stopper rings on the tubes that would keep the next element from going too far onto the other got loose. The glue used was not strong enough and almost all of the stopper rings (17 out of 20, to be precise) moved away from where they were supposed to be. Back home, I used poliurethane sealent (of the type used in cars) to stick the stopper rings back onto their place.

Fortunately, this worked. On our next DXpedition to Inceburun lighthouse, all pieces stayed intact. I presume the problems I have faced with the tubes bending inwards were due to the stoppers moving away from their original place. This time rotating the tubes eased out any sign of tubes bending inwards. Of course I had to readjust all guy lengths once again. I was just hoping this would be the last time I was doing this. On our next DXpedition to Gerze lighthouse activity, I had to readjust a few guy lines again. This might be because the monofilament guy lines (fishing strings) might be getting extended under hot weather. Over all the assembly took three and a half hours (including raising the mast), and disassembly took one and a half hours.

Final words:

Going back to my comments on buying a kit, rather than buying it ready made: Buying a kit is just not worth it (unless someone is on a very tight budget). One should consider the cost of the preassembly when buying the antenna, and that would mean additional 150 Euros. The effort involved is just TOO MUCH. When you add the preassembly cost to the price of the antenna, that would make (for the 5 bander) 389+150= 539 Euros. Not a small amount. Would it be worth it? It depends on your expectations. I suggested the company to employ cheap labour, no matter how repelling that sounds, to bring the preassembly costs down. My optimum criteria for kit building, is that of Elecraft K3 (as opposed to K2 or other previous models), for those who are familiar with them.

Next: This antenna is NOT exactly suitable for short DXpeditions. If you are going to use it for at least a week or more, it might be worth the effort but if you are going on an activity that lasts for a weekend only, like we do most of the time, you have to think twice. The end result is good; we definitely doubled the number of QSOs we usually make, it was much easier to get over QSBs, etc. but I still spend a very long time in assembling the antenna each and every time. I was just hoping it would get shorter over time but the experience has helped me shorten the total period by 15 minutes only.

I was very happy with the precision engineering and workmanship on SpiderBeam's heavy duty aluminum mast. You can put it up within a matter of minutes and more importantly you can do this alone (although a second person makes life a lot easier), something I consider very important for a mast, but I have to admit I am a little disappointed with the 5 band wire yagi. You can still do it alone but it is certainly NOT as easy to put up as the mast. If I had known I would be struggling so much to prepare it and worse, each time I assemble the antenna, I am not sure if I would have bought it in the first place, at least not as a kit, for sure. Now that I have paid and already struggled so much, I just hope assembling it gets faster everytime.
 
G2JL Rating: 5/5 Aug 25, 2012 14:03 Send this review to a friend
Read the Book carefully  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had my SB three years, now, and I'm well pleased with it. Of course, it hasn't 100 dB gain. Nor has it the 200 dB front-to-side ratio I really need when working UK & USA from my location in SV5. It does not correct my QSD, nor possess an XYL-QRM filter. But, it has as more gain, matching & general good design than it is reasonable to expect for the price and much more besides. The service & help from the company is superb. Epson, H-P & Micro$oft would need to spend multi-billions to match them.

True, the manual could be better; to start making the 5-band HD version (clearly a later evolution in the design history) one must flick back-&-forth through the manual quite a bit before being confident about cutting. My father used to tell me : "Measure twice, cut once" but the Old Proud Parent tended to ever-estimate my intellectual powers. I'd say : "Lurn two reed; read ten times; make a table; check it; - only then start cutting." Nevertheless, it's all actually there in the book. RTFM !

After the severest storm in living memory in my part of the Eastern Aegean in December 2010, the antenna was wrecked. With the approval of the company, I rebuilt it with extra guy-lines top and bottom, and it has survived since.

For a largely symmetrical structure, wind eddies and gusts generate astonishing torque, and I'd recommend drilling through the pole & passing a stout bolt through the hole thoughtfully provided in the boom-plate-to-mast clamp(s) - both clamps, if the mast be steel, like mine.

Since I'm 80 next birthday, I expect the thing to outlast me; If it doesn't (it is after all the worst earthquake zone in Europe) I'd buy another. If I can make it, so can you. It works !

[signed Mort - SV5/G2JL]
 
ZS1ZY Rating: 5/5 Aug 23, 2011 09:58 Send this review to a friend
fantastic antenna  Time owned: more than 12 months
this antenna has been in the air for 36 months
I imported the 5 band hd version from Germany in 2008 it sat in the garage for about 3 months while I read the instructions.
started with the balun used some cable ties to hold the coax in position after the balun was finished I filled it with electrical resin
cutting the elements and the kevlar rope
you need one or two people to help with the measurements once that was done I started to assemble the antenna in the back yard
during the essembly I only used the supplied insulaters on the kevlar rope at the ends where the elements were tied I used nylon rope 3mm to exstend the wires on the end of the spreader
I used two rings and a small stainless shackel makes for quick assembling the nylon rope I tied off with two small cable ties so you can easily tension the wires
I mounted the antenna three mt above the ground and tested the swr with a analyzer all bands were between 1.2 and 1.5 so I left it like that.
putting the antenna up on the tower is not easy due to its size
I stood the antenna on two legs after the tower was tilted and then bolted the aluminum pipe to the rotator
It works better then the 3 element 20m mono bander I had. I have done about three thousand contacts with it, seldom get less than 55 mostly 59 or 59plus .
had to replace the kevlar after 30 months the kevlar was ok but the cotton cover was in bad shape due to the African sun
if you have the space get one you will not be disapointed
 
KE7ZAG Rating: 5/5 May 23, 2011 15:37 Send this review to a friend
HD is Great Performer  Time owned: more than 12 months
I read the reviews and approached the HD 5 band Spiderbeam with trepidation, and only bought it after a new one still in the box became available from another party.

Well, no worries.

It performs outstandingly well.

It is tough as nails, and has withstood windstorms that have taken down four 100 foot fir and cedar trees on my farm. It handled a good quarter inch build-up of ice this last winter, and never had a problem.

Bang for the buck is outstanding, and does not stop at just the antenna. The support structure and rotator required are also very economical compared to the conventional beam alternatives.

Also, do not waste your time getting it farther up than maybe 42 feet above the mean ground level. Any higher and you are just wasting your time and money for no reason.

Now, it is not for the faint hearted. The instructions are a detailed construction guide that explains far more than the average guy needs to know to just put one together. Download the guide and use a PDF viewer like Nuance (free) so you can search and edit the file. Then print only the pages you need for assembly.

The element cutting instructions for the HD 5 band version are found in two different places in the guide - so put together a table of the lengths and then if you are in doubt, ask Spiderbeam, and only then cut. There is a great Spiderbeam group on yahoo, so help is always available.

The instructions regarding use of the insulators provided with the HD kit can be misleading, as you really do not want them anywhere you can avoid using them, which is just about everywhere on the HD kit. Just use common sense and good knots.

Shabby knots will get you in a peck of trouble with the monofilament used to suspend the elements! If you do not know how to tie good knots, get a book and practice.

When stringing the drivers, start with the Balun properly set at the recommended height on the mast, and string from there. If the drivers end up too tight, then drop the Balun down the mast just enough to take out the tension.

Spiderbeam says to draw up the Dacron/Kevlar guy ropes used to hold the spreaders "tight," that is incorrect. Draw then just snug and all will be well. Tight will lead you to have "S" shaped spreaders, and at snug they are straight as an arrow and will not lose their shape in the wind.

The only guy lines that need to be tight are the top ones that hold the spreaders slightly elevated above the aluminum spider assembly. Even those are not all that tight, as you tie them first before the lower guys are installed.

Regarding the aluminum spider assembly, use blue LocTite on all the bolts to keep the stainless steel from galling. Assemble to the mast you intend to use for mounting, so all your bolts can be torqued so it stays stable as you work on the spreaders and elements, etc.

They also only take one person to completely assemble.

I cannot speak to the light weight Spiderbeam, as everyone I have talked to ends up buying the HD version for permanent installation.
 
NI2S Rating: 4/5 Jul 1, 2010 09:36 Send this review to a friend
Great antenna, but room to make it even better  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
First off, this antenna (in triband flavor) works great. I followed the assembly instructions VERY carefully, and the antenna didn't even need adjustment on the first try. The reason I don't give it a 5 are all related to the construction phase of the antenna -

* The instruction book co-mingles building from scratch and building from the purchased kit. They should be separate manuals.

* All wires and guys associated with the antenna should have dynamic tensioners rather than fixed length ropes and/or monofil guys. Since I use this antenna portable only, reassembly would be greatly aided if all the ropes/guys had the ability to adjust. Even initial assembly would be easier if you could adjust the tension on all the elements and guys as you go.

* The instruction book could be more clear on some aspects of assembly - such as the balun construction as one example. Illustrations were lacking in some respects.

After reading through the assembly manual several times, I approached the antenna assembly as I would any other kit - slow and steady. I didn't try to build it out in one day - I spread the assembly tasks out over several weekends. I also invested in an 11m metric measuring tape to aid construction so I didn't have to do metric conversions. Really, the manual should provide these conversions for the US market IMO - it's just too easy to make a tragic fat-finger mistake on a calculator.

As a portable beam, the lightweight version of this antenna met or exceeded my expectations. With some tweaking, this could be the best portable beam on the market.

 
N2EIK Rating: 3/5 Mar 29, 2010 04:15 Send this review to a friend
taken down  Time owned: more than 12 months
At year 3 I had to permanantly remove the spider.
Three winters, three failures. It was a very good performer but just cant hold up to the snow and ice of the north east USA. I would rate it a 5(best) as a PORTABLE yagi but NOT as a permanant antenna.
 
G3TEX Rating: 5/5 Nov 19, 2009 05:53 Send this review to a friend
Indestructible and magnificent  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
20/15/10 lightweight version.
Works a treat. I can work stations s7/s9 both ways that I can bearly hear on my LW doublet.

Initial construction is a bit of a chore but slow, methodical work gets it done. I cut the 20m dipole a bit too short but after adding 4cm each end it's perfect. You must, however, have a 11m diameter space near the ground at the final erection point to build the antenna. I have, just.

Down here is S France we get quite string squally winds up to 120 kph [Tramontane]. The antenna flexes quite a lot but stays intact - even when the winds were so strong as to bend the 15m aluminium Spiderbeam mast I has up at 10m after being up at least 7 months. My inadequate guying didn't help. I'm just now fixing the mast and will add a 40m dipole to the antenna. The flexing also badly scoured the antenna's mounting pole - I'm going to add a thru bolt to stop the rotation and drill thru holes near the base for armstrong rotation/fixing.

It has strong f/b ratio which is handy avoiding powerful Italian signals here.

Bottom line: excellent 20m up yagi. Rugged and performant.
 
KC2ANS Rating: 5/5 Jul 23, 2009 15:21 Send this review to a friend
Great Antenna  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Good Day fellow Hams:
I have owned the HD 5 band version of this antenna for 4 months and from the first day I installed this antenna it has proven to be a great antenna. The swr are very low as described by the manufacturer. The antenna is large but light weight.

To save some time, I also paid the extra money for the kit. Some fine tuning was needed and expected. For the total price of this antenna it is well worth the money in my opinion. it still comes out to be a couple of hundred dollars less then the other Germany competitor's wire beam. I will OPT out of posting the name. ;)

I have had the pleasure of experiencing great customer service from the US Distributor.

I think it would be great if they started producing 6 and 40 meter beams. I am sure it is probably in the works.

73,
 
F6DDR Rating: 5/5 Mar 16, 2009 16:46 Send this review to a friend
Very nice antenna  Time owned: more than 12 months
Hello

I have the antenna SPIDERBEAM HEAV DUTY 5 BANDS for 2 years, it has been with 15m ground, I am really very happy, I make many DX you can listen to at this address files MP3.

http://www.f6ddr.fr/spiderbeam_f6ddr.htm

Best 73s
Phil F6DDR in F- NANCY / JN38DS
 
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