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Reviews Categories | Antennas: HF Directional: Yagi, quad, rotary dipole, LPD, etc | Lightning Bolt 5 band 2 element quad Help

Reviews Summary for Lightning Bolt 5 band 2 element quad
Lightning Bolt 5 band 2 element quad Reviews: 44 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $340.
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W7IS Rating: 5/5 Aug 29, 2005 21:04 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Product  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I spent most of the summer installing a tower and LB 2 ele quad. And I have a few helpful hints that should help others get maximum life out of their LB quad. Aluminum wire is not very forgiving. If you bend it sharply it will form a weak spot that will break easily. Once I received the quad, I made tests on the alum welding wire to find its weaknesses. I found that bending it over a standard size chain saw file provided the correct sized loop to fit on the stainless screws. So to make the connections, I just used my fingers to bend the wire over the file. Then I tested the alum welding wire to find out how often it could be flexed without failing. The test results surprised me. The weak link with the alum welding wire wasnít so much in how careful you are in bending. It was being even more careful to not over tighten the screw terminals. If you tighten the screw terminals till there is no more resistance felt, that will weaken the alum to the point where it will break very easily. So during the assembly I was very careful to exert only the very minimum force on the screw terminals that provided a good connection. After the wires were secure in the screw terminals, I then placed a second nut on top to act as a jam nut to prevent the screws from loosening.
Alum wire is fairly soft so itís critical to use only the minimum tension on the screws. If you screw the nuts down so there is no longer any resistance felt, you will have damaged the wire to the point where it will break easily. This is especially critical during the assembly of the ten wires on the matching transformer. So itís best to make tests with some spare wire so you can find the correct screw tension that doesnít damage the wire. I found the matching transformer provided its best SWR when it was terminated in about 125 ohms. About perfect for a 2 ele 5 band quad. The final SWR 40ft in the air was less than 1.5 to 1 across all 5 bands. 20M had less than 1.3 to 1 across the band. I was very careful to measure the wire to the exact length as Mike specifies using a 100 ft fiberglass tape with the lose end held to the ground with a long -- narrow blade screw driver. The only glitch I ran into was the bow to the elements that allow a 10 ft spacing on 20M. After the quad was I in the air, I noticed the driven element was flat Ėwith almost no bow. So I donít have the correct 10ft spacing on 20M. That should have been correctable on the ground as I tensioned the wires using the wire holders, (if I had paid more attention to what I was doing). But even so, the ant has a nearly perfect SWR on all 5 bands and seems to perform as well as any 3 ele yagi I have ever owned. The front to side and front to back ratio is excellent. If you place the spiders on a flat surface you can see that they are welded at a slight angle to provide the bow. The spiders have only 3 ĺĒ of tubing exposed for the spreaders to slip onto. So the 13ft spreaders are being supported by that very short length of tubing. I would have been more comfortable if the spider tubes provided at least an 8Ē overlap inside the spreaders. So what I did was use two stainless clamps on each spider connection to provide as much support as possible. This QTH gets high winds more often than most locations so I ordered it with the 3Ē boom. Itís a fine product that deserves higher than a 5 rating. Mike answered all the questions I had but I also used the hints and suggestions provided by W3DF on his web site. You really canít handle the spreaders with bare hands as the fiberglass has sharp edges. I spray painted the spreaders with green enamel to match the Evergreen trees in this area in an attempt to make it less noticeable. The paint helped seal the sharp edges and then it was less of a problem. Sky blue paint might also work for those in an area where they have good weather most of the time and actually have blue skiesÖ:-) Itís gone through 55mph winds so far with no problems.
I installed the quad elements at ground level using a 12ft step ladder and a tip over tower. Much easier than climbing the tower to slide the boom back and forth. This is a great product that works very well and Iím hoping it makes it through the rough winters near the Canadian border. I especially like the low SWR without requiring the use of a 5 position coaxial switch and matching sections of 75 ohm coax. Iím always looking for ways to improve a product and I think the spiders could be improved as noted above. Installing any quad is a mechanically challenging process. But I found the LB quad well worth the effort. Frank W7IS
N9VO Rating: 5/5 Jul 19, 2005 15:48 Send this review to a friend
Try it, you'll like it!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Have the 2 element 5 band with 6 meter add-on. Been up a little over a month. I didn't want to get accused of rating too soon so have waited. Antenna works fantastic. SWR is 1:5 or less across the bands. Three of the five are 1:1. Assembly was not too bad although a school on handling the wire would be nice. But if you follow directions, get a helper and take it easy, its not too bad. Raising was no problem as the tower, rotator, etc was already in place. Performance has to be heard to be believed. I dont think you can get more antenna for the money. I will admit to being a bit nervous about winter if the ice should show but will have to take in stride. It sure is fun to have a great wire. Makes breaking pileups a bit easier.
KD6WD Rating: 5/5 Jun 23, 2005 18:03 Send this review to a friend
Superb  Time owned: more than 12 months
I was not going to comment on this antenna until I saw someone rate it as only a 2 in this group. Well I came from Northern California and snow load is a real problem regardless what you have up. I have seen 3 inch heavy walled booms flat break in half because of snowload. KT34xa's come apart like gang busters with snow loads.

Here is my evaluation. My lightningbolt 5 band 2 element preformed flawless on 6 bands and would even work on 80 meters at reduced power. I worked over a 100 contries with it in less than a years time. With a bit of care during setup you have 1.5 to 1 or less from one band edge to the other. This antenna survived 100 mile an hour plus wind gusts on many occasions. Finally after nearly 3 years in the air, due to snow load the boom bent in half ( this was a 2" boom) and busted one spreader as it hit the tower. The spreader broke at the join and could easily be repaired with a wrapping of fiberglass and resin. The 2 element 5 band quad is really all the antenna a person will need. Also the antenna is far quieter on receive than any yagi I have had. The price/performance is amazing. The real beauty is that you don't need a tuner with this antenna. Also assembly is pretty easy. The only difficulty is stretching the wire out to measure. Since I am in a wheel chair I held one end and my friend KJ6GQ stretched it out,measured and cut the lengths. Don (KJ6GQ)had the antenna assembled and up on the tower in about 4 hours. When I moved to Florida about 18 months ago, Don even had the quad 70 feet up on his tower to experiment with his quagi design. You can spend more but you will not get more versatility and bang for the buck than this antenna. 3 or 4 chunks of rohn 25 and a hamIV and you will be in DX heaven.

John kd6wd
WZ9Y Rating: 5/5 May 29, 2005 20:33 Send this review to a friend
Great Antenna!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Other than being a little cumbersome to put together this antenna works as advertised and then some! Blows away my inverted Vee and Ground mounted vertical which of course it should. For the amount of money I paid for this antenna it is a steal! Low noise, big signal, good directivity, excellent bandwidth on all bands and actually looks good on the 40 foot tower. Neighbors and wife were wondering about what it would look like due to the size of it on the ground but as usual the antenna looks much smaller once it's up in the air.

WY3X Rating: 5/5 Jan 17, 2005 06:42 Send this review to a friend
Much better than my ol' yagi!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My poor crank-up tower would groan every time I had to lean it over to work on my HyGain TH6-DX. I was worried that one day, the cable would snap and do some damage to the tower, or worse, to me! My tower is much happier with the 35 pound Lightning Bolt Quad (2-element 5-band version), and I get about the same signal reports, if not better. One report yesterday said I was the _only_ signal he heard on 20M (which was probably just conditions, but hey, I'll take that!). The fiberglass spreaders were much more solid than I was expecting. The mounting clamps for the wire are a stroke of genius! This antenna is like having a log-periodic as well- almost a flat match from 13 through 30MHz, then it goes up a bit, then another match at the high end of 6M, probably great for local repeaters (and I did not install the optional 6M kit). All in all, a great value for the money. I wish I had bought one of these a long time ago! If I had any tips for a new purchaser, they would be: make sure you have help when you string the elements! The wire used is like a spring, and it takes 5 hands to cut the wires and get them into place! It also helps to loosen the wire-holding clamps on one of the spreaders for ease of getting the wires into position. Then you can go back and put the clamps in position after the wire is secured to the insulators and/or balun. I did not follow the instructions to do mine laying flat on the ground, I used a piece of pipe pushed into the ground to hold the spiders about 3 feet above the ground so I would not have to bend over to work. If you do this right, you can get the neighbor's kid to hold one end of the wire while you stand in one place and "windmill" the spreader assembly while stringing it. I formed a hook on one end of the wire and threaded the remaining straight end through the wire clamps. If you do this, make sure you start at the same place each time or you'll have to bend the hook back out, and this wire -is- brittle! Or you could pull it back out and start over in the right spot. After getting the elements strung, I then placed objects at each spreader to hold them up into the finished bowed position while I moved the wire clamps into place and tightened them. I did have to "flip" one of the elements over to get it into proper mounting position, tangled it in a nearby tree, and well, that's another story. Just make sure you have plenty of open area to work in. All told, you can't go wrong with this antenna! -KR4WM
WL7CMG Rating: 5/5 Dec 15, 2004 22:09 Send this review to a friend
Best results for your $$$  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
From the many antennas I know of, I'd have to say, for a quality antenna the 2 element quad by Lightning Bolt has got to be one of, if not "THE" best value for your hard earned dollars out there. Easy to assemble and easy to put up. Even up here in Alaska, it has taken a beaten and stays put. A few weeks back I noticed some higher swr, and found that the quad had about 1/4" of ice all over it. Even at that the swrs were still tolerable. That will only be a small problem from time to time I'm sure. It was nothing that a good internal tuner couldn't take care of.
I have recently been receiving many 20 over s9 reports. Even today, with very few signals on 17m, a 20 over report was given from JA while running only 100 watts. If the qsb starts in, I'll switch on the amp and run between 5 and 700 watts, and the 30 to 40 over reports are staggering. A couple weeks back on 17m, a friend in the lower 48 told me that he was sure he actually heard the needle on his FT-1000D peg the meter. And when he looked and gave me the 45 over report, he was sure it was on the backswing from where it had been! That too was with around 600 watts. Oftentimes I have been getting and giving "close"(hi) to the same reports from SteppIR users running similar power. Now THAT to me is pretty darn impressive to say the least. Oh quad is only at 50 feet.
This will be the first winter I have had the quad up, so I'll have to get back to you on how it weathers the storm. buddie up the road has the granddaddy of my quad, the 4 element that we put up almost 8 years ago. That thing has taken everything Alaska can throw at it!! Only just last winter did he loose a couple spreaders, after we had just the right conditions of hoarer frost, (that didn't have time to thaw), an extreme temperature change, and a bunch of wet snow, and then unfortunately some high winds. That finally did it. But believe it or not he can still use the quad like it is with only two elements and wires hanging every which way!! If that wasn't good enough, I also talked to a ham in FL. who has the 2 element. He said when the hurricane came through it took out his tower, and his quad was no where to be found. Turned out it seems that the quad hit the ground like a tumbleweed and it was found intact a few blocks away. Again....VERY impressive.
Needless to say I'm sold...hi. For a fairly small and lightweight antenna it sure can play with the big boys...!!! Dollar for dollar I think you'll agree, the 2 element quad is REAL hard to beat, and why it's a 5 in my book. At this point, if the quad goes down, I think I'm spoiled enough that only a SteppIR will suffice to replace it. Of course I may have to mortgage the house first...hi!!! Thanks & hope to catch you on the bands...all 5 of them of course....hi!!! 73s
K6RSG Rating: 5/5 Oct 4, 2004 12:28 Send this review to a friend
This Antenna is Amazing!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Well the results are in....

Assembly was a breeze. The directions were clear and precise. I was easily able to accomplish assembly of the entire antenna once I rigged a wire holding device to facilitate extending and measuring the wire sections. Otherwise it would have been a two person job. I also used a large garbage pail to support the center of the spider and spreaders assembly making the wire threading and tensioning job far easier. The height of the large garbage pail facilitated the natural outward bowing of the spider and spreaders which arch downward while on the garbage pail.

Getting the elements on the tower was a task accomplished as a result of the contributions of many. A Gin Pole proved to be indispensable. With two additional tag lines controlled by my wife below the tower, me atop the tower hoisting the primary line through the gin pole, and a neighbor feeding the element from the roof the two elements were successfully mounted to the boom which had already been affixed to the mast on the tower. A bit of coax seal, and a socket wrench to tighten the boom to mast plate once pushed up near the top of the mast and I was the proud owner of a ready to fire up Lightning Bolt 2 Element 5 Band Quad up at 60' (1,030' above sea level).

Flipped on the radio, a Kenwood TS-480SAT at 100 Watts and my first QSO was Buenos Aires, Argentina! Since then (Sunday, Sept. 19) I've been delighted to speak with stations all over the globe (Asia, Europe, Middle East, Oceania, North and South America) and discovered that I can typically contact any station that moves the meter. It truly has opened up the bands -- vastly!

I do still use my Alpha Delta 82' DX-CC Multi-Band Dipole, which is now mounted with its center point just below the bottom of the Quad and down slightly below the top of the tower in an inverted-V fashion. Toggling between the two antennas really lets the Lightning Bolt shine.

The Lightning Bolt works on 6 Meters through 80 meters, however, there are times when the Kenwood TS-480SAT's internal antenna coupler is not satisfied with a suitable match on 40 meters. I've found that I now always receive significantly better signal reports with the Quad on all bands except 40 and 80 meters where the Dipole is usually better or equivalent.

I've also found that, about half the time, on 10-20 meters, running the antenna without the Kenwood 480-SAT's internal antenna coupling circuity yields improved signal reports.

And two days after getting the antenna on the tower we had our first blast of the season's Santa Ana winds. With gust reaching probably no more than 40mph, the antenna at 60' was not at all bothered by the winds.

So far, I'm delighted....

Best 73

K6RSG Rating: 5/5 Sep 9, 2004 13:28 Send this review to a friend
Exceptional Quality Components and Service  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After researching competing antenna's (quads, yagi, and LPDAs) by speaking with many users on the air, e-mailing e-ham posters for their impressions (thanks to all of you who responded!), reviewing available product information, and speaking with manufactuers, the consensus on the Lightening Bolt remains outstanding.

I decided the Lightening Bolt 5 Band 2 Element Quad was the one for me. The convenience of a single coax feed, 5 band coverage, outstanding price to performance ratio, lightweight, and proven durability, were the compelling factors.

Michael Dudley and his wife run a fantastic operation at Lightning Bolt Antennas. As it worked out the unit was available a week earlier than the originally scheduled ship date. They eagerly answered all my questions and I have found them always ready to assist.

Upon arrival my first impression was that the components were of the highest first quality.

Michael precisely fabricates each of the spiders and spreader components. At first glance, the quality of Michael's exceptional reinforced fiber wound fiberglass spreaders is readily apparent. The Lightning Bolt spreaders are significantly thicker and vastly stronger than those from other makers. I visited the home of a nearby ham friend to view his 4 element quad and extra Qubex spreaders. I found them to be egg shell thin and soda cracker brittle along the shaft especially near the base. Also Lightning Bolt's design securely anchors the spreader's post, internally and centrally, into the thickened and reinforced base of the spreader tube with a stainless steel hose clamp. A method I prefer over the 90 degree angle bracket approach. In addition, Lightning Bolt mixes a UV inhibitor compound with the resin during the spreader fabricating process to eliminate the need for additionally coating or painting the spreaders. Here in Southern California and other UV intensive regions this is a convenient benefit.

The spreader, spiders, and boom are conveniently color coded, and, the directions I found to be quite clear even though they arrive in the form of an informal photocopy.

The boom and mast plate clamps are custom hot dipped galvanized versions of automotive muffler clamps and are of outstanding quality. So good, in fact, that I ordered two additional clamp sets for use to secure additional antenna stand off arms to the tower.

Another nice design feature is that the boom to spider connections are precision fitted and pre-drilled for double cross bolting at each boom to spider connection point to prevent spider rotation. And, yes, stainlees steel fastening hardware is included.

Above all, Lightning Bolt's most innovative yet simple component is their wire holder design. Much has been written about this technique, but suffice it to say that they have gone to great precision to assure that each and every one of the forty (40) wire holders included in my package were precisely fabricated. This is no small task. Each is comprised of a stainless steel hose clamp precisely positioned and affixed to three concentric sections of hosing. The exacting positioning of the hose clamp assures consistency that each hold its respective wire and spreader in identical fashion.

The element wires are comprised of solid multi-alloy aluminium welding wire about 1/16" diameter which should avoid mechanical or static noise problems potentially resulting from corrosion or debris developing between strands of uncoated stranded wire.

Plastic tuning stub insulators and stainless steel hardware are also included in the package, as are clear instructions how to affix the wires without subjecting them to stress. The package also includes a compact S0-239 matching transformer to which all driven element wires connect with the coax.

Having just recently received the antenna it will likely be another week, or so, until it is finally up on the tower, and I'll supplement this post after the antenna is operational.

At this point, the mechanical quality and manufacturer support of this product is fantastic.

Best to all,


W7AV Rating: 5/5 Sep 9, 2004 00:10 Send this review to a friend
Very Good  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
If for some reason you can't get the 4 element version than this is the one to buy. I suggest you get the 3" boom so you can expand it to 4 elements later (I did that). The 2 element perfomed great, I was never disappointed. I went with the saying that if 2 is good 4 is better. However, the 2 element quad is strong, handles wind, ice, and snow with ease. You'll hear stations you never heard with your A-4 or TA-33.
KI7V Rating: 5/5 Aug 15, 2004 01:00 Send this review to a friend
IT WORKS!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I've had this antenna up for about 3 months and have gone from working DX on very rare occasions to a situation where itís now easy. I have worked over 60 countries in the few first weeks that I had it up. I consistently get 559 to 579 reports into Europe and 599 in NA. This was all done with CW/QRP at 5 Watts from my K2. Results are the proof that this antenna performs. If I were using 100 watts with this antenna, it would probably take all the fun out of it!

As stated in several other reviews, the design of this antenna and the materials used are the best available for any quad at any price.

In addition, if you have questions or have any problems with the antenna. Michael at LightningBolt provides first rate support for his antennas.

John - KI7V
Good DXing!
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