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Reviews Categories | Antenna Switching, Phasing, Controllers | Array Solutions SixPack Help


Reviews Summary for Array Solutions SixPack
Array Solutions SixPack Reviews: 50 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $250 to $400 depending on configu
Description: Antenna remote switch 6,12,18,...etc antennas to 1 or 2 radios
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.arraysolutions.com
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You can write your own review of the Array Solutions SixPack.

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W2RE Rating: 5/5 Mar 11, 2009 18:13 Send this review to a friend
Bullet proof!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned this for several years now and its bullet proof! Highly recommend for SO2R!

Ray W2RE
 
KG6AOH Rating: 5/5 Feb 14, 2009 16:16 Send this review to a friend
Built well and works well  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
First, let me tell you that I work in the radio and TV industry as an engineer, and I have no patience for sub-standard ham quality junk. I have absolutely no tolerance for anything that is not built to commercial broadcast standards. As you can imagine, it is tough to find products that meet my expectations when it comes to amateur radio suppliers.

In the shack, I spend most of my time shortwave listening. Occasionally, I will QSO on HF, but it is rare. Either way, my most used radio is a Kenwood and the most sensitive is an R-390A receiver. Sometimes, the Kenwood just doesn't cut it, and the 390A is used to grab those tough ones.

There are many antennas here, my QTH is sometimes called 'VOA of the West' by guests. All professional quality wire antennas, designed to receive the smallest signals on the SW bands. Everything from a huge curtain array to a simple inverted L. It was always an effort trying to manage the antennas with switches and coaxes to the receivers, and still keep the transceiver from accidentally being fed into the R-390A receiver via bone-headed move. So, some antennas could be accessed on one radio and other antennas on the other. It wasn't that great.

Then, I conversed with Jay at Array Solutions via email, and was told about the Six Pak switch. Sounded really neat, but not quite exactly what I wanted. As the switch comes, it is capable of allowing more than one antenna to be connected to the same radio at the same time, but the Array Solutions Six Pak controller does not (one antenna at a time only). Jay suggested buying the switch, then sent the schematic so I could see how it works and build my own controller to get the switch to do exactly what I wanted it to do. The Six Pak arrived in a couple of days, and my first impression was how nicely it is done. My only complaint is the totally gay color of the case. A few minutes with masking tape and a quick shot of spray paint fixed that.

The circuit board is nicely done, and it is apparent that the relays are custom built for WX0B. These are not off-the-shelf relays. The gold plated contacts were bright and shiny, and there was no resistance from antenna jack to radio jack on any of the switched-in relays.

Some here have complained that relays needed tension adjustments, etc. Mine did not. As tested, it does take a full 12 volts to pull them in when cold, and they stay in with as little as 6 volts, no problem. But if you use a wimpy power supply with sag to actuate them (like a wall-wart), then you will have problems. I am running mine off of the shack power supply, a rackmount 35 amp Astron. No problems.

I designed and built a custom control panel using a 1 RU rack panel and 12 illuminated push button switches. The switches have clear covers so that I could put the antenna labels on them and when the switch is on, the antenna name is illuminated behind the button, very intuitive to use no matter how tired the op may be. Also, my controller allows the Six Pak to connect more than one antenna to the same radio at the same time. I can connect all 6 antennas to the same radio at the same time, if that is the desire. The panel was wired in such a way that the same antenna cannot be connected to more than one radio at the same time. Although the Six Pak has this safety feature built-in, I felt it was worth repeating at the controller level as well.

The radios are in the shack, in the house. LMR-400 cables form the two radios along with a shielded Belden 15-wire control cable leave the shack through a wall plate, go underground (in conduit) to a communications vault at the base of the main tower. All the antennas terminate in this vault. Some are open wire fed, some coax. All open wire antennas become coax using DX Engineering baluns. Then, LMR-400 or 1/2 inch Heliax cables connect to the Six Pak. The Six Pak itself is affixed to a 4RU rack plate and mounted at the top of one of the equipment racks. The 15-wire control cable is connected using 66 style punch blocks and a DB15 connector at the Six Pak.

In testing, I found the Six Pak to offer about 60 dB of isolation from any port to any receiver port. As frequency goes up, isolation goes down a little. In some bands, I see isolation as high as 70 dB. Impedance through the Six Pak... Well, we'll just say you don't want to use it for UHF. On the low HF bands, it is fairly transparent. On the higher HF bands (like 10m) there is a noticeable bump on the TDR. However, the overall loss or resistance of the Six Pak is very negligible.

On the air, it is really nice to be able to select any combination of my six favorite antennas at any time. This is helpful when there is a lot of QSB. Selecting vertical and horizontal antennas at the same time really eliminates a lot of the deep fades.

The most power I have run through the switch is about 1000 watts (carrier). No heat build up or arcing was noticed. Also, the relays can be left engaged for hours upon hours at a time without burning up. A neat safety feature of this is that when you power down the shack, the switch powers down too and your radios are disconnected from the antennas. Although I always HIGHLY suggest the use of Polyphasers for your coaxes and proper implementation of them, I know most hams won't. So, it is a little insurance policy to have the Six Pak disconnect your wires for you when you are done.

All in all, the Six Pak is a unique product that not all hams really need, but for some of us, it is invaluable. After having this installed and operational for a couple months, there is NO WAY that I could ever go back to the bundles of cables and switches in the shack, ever! The WX0B Six Pak switch saved my sanity, and made playing with radios a lot more fun.

I sent Jay a picture of my shack with the custom controller installed, might be available on the Array Solutions website by the time you read this.
 
K7PEH Rating: 5/5 Jan 26, 2009 08:37 Send this review to a friend
SixPak is a Keeper  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I debated on rating this switch as a 4 or a 5. I was reluctant to give it a 5 because I did have to fiddle a bit with the tension of the relays because a few of them stuck. But, who can complain about the great service and attention giving by Jay who responds to e-mail promptly and who spends time with you to resolve all problems.

So, I rated this switch as a 5 for two reasons. One, it is a "Great" switch and that is what the 5 rating means. But, more importantly, Jay is a great vendor and very patient with those who need help.

Since about September when I "worked out the gremlins" from this switch it has performed flawless. I use it to switch two rigs between three antennas and a dummy load.

I searched for about a year to buy the kind of switch that meets my needs. I did not want a bunch of cables strung up on my desktop where I like to have an easily accessible switch control. So, the remote cable box was a definite requirement. There were a number of solutions for this requirement but in the end I chose to buy rather then build which was fast becoming my only alternative.

This switch is money well spent and I am certain it is the last switch that I will need until I run out of cable connections which is not likely in the foreseeable future. By the way, I did price out the components to build my own version of something like this switch and I couldn't even come close to Jay's price besides matching the nice finishing touches of a more professional and practiced design and construction.
 
ZR4RV Rating: 5/5 Nov 5, 2008 09:12 Send this review to a friend
Great Ant Switch  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Mine is a year old now and is very happy with the antenna switch. After some small tention problems with the relays and the GREAT support of Jay its working 100%.

Keep it up Jay
 
K8IA Rating: 4/5 Mar 17, 2008 15:39 Send this review to a friend
Well designed and built  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Really slick switching matrix. I have two controllers with mine, as it is confgured between two stations separated by about eight feet. Allows each station to access the full complement of antennas. Really a time saver and good peace of mind with its "first in captures" design.

My rating would have been a "5" but two of the relays required spring tension adjusting right out of the box. 13 volts on the relay buss did not allow those two to pull in properly. The other 10 were ok.

Fortunately, a online document (AS website) titled "Testing a Six-Pack" addressed this problem. Nevertheless, this should have been shipped correct and it wasnt.
 
VE3YF Rating: 5/5 Nov 18, 2007 03:32 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Coax Switch  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have been thinking of purchasing this switch for quite some time and glad I took the plunge. The Six Pak is a ruggedly built antenna switch that allows my radios to share a common set of antennas. Being able to use any antenna on either of my radios adds a lot of flexibility to my station. Very solidly built and after almost 3 months of operation not one flaw. Welcome addition to any shack.
 
K9WZB Rating: 5/5 Nov 12, 2007 08:53 Send this review to a friend
A must for the multi-antenna and radio station  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
This is a great antenna switch that makes life easier in the shack. When two radios are connected, the switch prevents you from transmitting on the second radio on the same antenna.
Customer service is also great. Ask a question in an email or call and your answer is back with in minutes. Although pricey when you gather all the cables etc. to set it up it is a real pleasure to have available in the shack.
The workmanship and quality of the antenna switch and controller is great. The only flaw I see is the wimpy U-bolt sent to mount it. This was abandon and an entirely different mount was made.
 
K0KT Rating: 5/5 Aug 28, 2007 04:58 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding product!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had my Six Pack in operation for almost 2.5 years now. This is probably the best antenna switch that money can buy. I work in the area of product reliability and know that some manufacturers will use low-price (often corresponding to low quality) parts to save pennies, perhaps accumulating to dollars, on each unit manufactured. I avoid such products, especially in critical products and critical parts of my ham station. I knew about the Array Solutions reputation for high quality and high reliability and their life-time guarantee. I wanted a product that would last a long time and that would stand up to some abuse that will inevitably arise during contest operating. I never really seriously considered any alternatives. I chose the Six-Pack over the Rat-Pack to have some built-in redundancy, seamless operation of two radios, and with the thought that in the future I might want to play around with SO2R.

My Six Pack started its life on the top of my tower and it worked flawlessly up there for almost a year. Then I decided to bring it inside. Why?

1. After a year of operating experience, I realized that had enough coax runs to the tower to cover all of the on-tower antennas that I used regularly.

2. I had grown several more important antennas off-tower and wanted them controlled by the Six-Pack.

3. I was in charge of organizing the W0YL Field Day operation and realized that the Six Pack would be an excellent way to share antennas and band-pass filters across two close-by radios.

The only problem that I had with the Six Pack was when a sleep-deprived Field Day operator went to change the 80-meter antenna and tried to plug a PL-259 into the N-connectors on my box (I exercised the option and paid a few extra dollars to have my box build with N-connectors, as I use these on top of my tower and my tower-to-shack coax runs). It was a cinch to fix with the detailed information provided by Jay and Bob at Array Solutions. And the repair gave me an opportunity to see the high-quality, robust, construction up-close.

This is a wonderful product and I recommend it most highly.
 
N3MX Rating: 5/5 Jan 22, 2007 12:21 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding  Time owned: more than 12 months
Very well engineered. Very reliable. Jay (Array Solutions) makes excellent products and stands by them.
 
KM3T Rating: 5/5 Jul 24, 2006 09:06 Send this review to a friend
Excellent!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
K5TR and I used the WX0B Six Pack at WRTC 2006 and were very pleased with it. It was very easy to wire up and install and didn't fail at all under duty-cycle heavy use. I've also used earlier versions of the Six Pack from other contest stations and never experienced a failure.

I gave it such a high rating because of its high quality of workmanship, good value, and excellent support from Array Solutions.
 
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