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Reviews Categories | Antennas: HF: Vertical, Wire, Loop | GAP Challenger Help


Reviews Summary for GAP Challenger
GAP Challenger Reviews: 81 Average rating: 4.4/5 MSRP: $259.00
Description: Multi-Band HF Vertical
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.gapantenna.com
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KF7VXA Rating: 5/5 Aug 16, 2013 12:52 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After reading the reviews on the Gap and then on the other verticals, I decided to try the Challenger.
I love the fact that it only needs three radials. I had to trim about 3' off of each radial to get a 1 to 1 match on the part of the 40 meter band I use the most, but now have a perfect match on 40.
The match does not go over two to one on any other band and is usually closer to 1.4 to 1.8 on other bands.
The reports I've been getting on this antenna have been fantastic. Just about everyone gives an honest 5-9, many times better and I get great reports on my great audio using a Yaesu AT-450, not a high end transceiver.
In tough conditions, my noise floor is usually an S-5 to an S-7.
I live in an area with not too much noise and the noise level is always down very low unless their is a lot of noise in the atmosphere, even then, it's rare that I cannot copy a station, even when the station I'm talking to cannot copy others as I can.
When in a group with poor conditions, the Challenger seems to always hear and talk better than any other barefoot stations and sometimes the guys running a lot of power, but even then, many times they cannot hear as well as I do. It seems when conditions are bad and stations drop off because they cannot hear over the noise floor, I'm always the last to sign off, I can still copy when most others cannot.
It's rare that my noise floor is above an S-7 in bad conditions.
This antenna talks as well as it hears. In less than one week, using 100 watts, I broke through a huge pile up to Switzerland, getting a report of 4-7. I was up against many stations running Yagi's and 1500 watts. It was the first pile up I worked with this antenna.
Since then I also snagged Hawaii, a bunch in Canada and Mexico from Idaho.
I have talked with stations in every part (but not every state...yet) of the United States except Alaska.
No antenna can do everything well, and the Challenger is no exception, but overall, this antenna is a winner, I'd take it over any other vertical. Easy to build, set up, it takes the wind and just plain talks. The price is right also, way under most others and it performs better in almost every case. It sits right on top of a pipe in the ground, no need to raise it up high like most others.
I gave it a 5 because for being a vertical, it works so darn good. 2 Meters to 80 meters is asking a lot from one antenna, this one does a great job considering the wide span of frequencies and is a killer on 15, 20 and 40 meters.
I have a 40 meter horizontal, that could be a little higher, but the gap is so much better, I hardly ever use the dipole.

80 meters is of course limited to 130 Mhz as would be expected, so I plan on buying the Gap model that goes from 20 to 160 meters. That should give me the use of most of the 80 meter band and some of the 160 meter band.
Buy one, you will not be sorry.
 
KF7VXA Rating: 5/5 Jul 27, 2013 13:46 Send this review to a friend
Best Bang for the Buck  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
There is no perfect antenna, especially a multi band, but in my opinion, the Challenger comes as close as a vertical can.
The instructions could be better, but if you take the time to read them and look at the pictures, it will be easy to assemble with without problems.
I have only been using the antenna for about a month, but have got fantastic signal reports from all I have contacted. If I can hear them, I can almost always work them. I use 100 watts or less for all contacts.
I have mine guyed with 4 nylon ropes and it has held fine in winds up to 65 MPH. The top bends from the wind, but has held up fine so far.
The SWR is not above 1.8 to 1 and lower on most bands.
It even works good on 2 meters. It does not have the range on 2 Meters as my vertical 2M put up 50 feet, but I'm sure it has to do with the low height of the portion that radiates the 2 meter band.
I live in a valley ringed on 3 sides by some 7000+ tall mountains and it gets out over the mountains with zero problems. For working stations within 400 miles, I do have to use a dipole (NVIS), but verticals are made for DX, so that is to be expected.
I still have to work on 80 meters, it's not working well, but I'm not sure I have a good connection with the capacitor on top (I'm disabled and need to get some help to take it down). All of the other bands have been great except for getting many contacts on 2, 6 and 10 meters. That has more to do with the mountains than anything else, the eat any VHF signal thrown their way, I can hear some talking on these bands, but very weak signals. There is a repeater on 2 meters and the Challenger hits it with no problem as well as a couple repeaters outside of the open end of the valley.

Overall, I doubt you will find a better multi band vertical. With no traps, it puts the signal out into the air where it belongs, it does not just heat the coils.
I used coax for the three radials and had to shorten them about 3 feet for better SWR in the portion of the 40 meter band I use most. It sure is great not having to put down hundreds of feet of wire radials to get a good signal out, having just 3 radials is a major bonus, great design.
I plan on buying another model Gap for the 160 meter band and to get more bandwidth on the 80 meter band.

For DX work with one antenna on the bands, you cannot go wrong with the challenger, do also plan on dipole(s)for working in closer. Not a fault of the antenna, just physics.
I also have got great support from Rich, answers by the 3rd ring most times. 73's
 
KM2U Rating: 5/5 Feb 4, 2013 17:08 Send this review to a friend
DX Machine  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have the pleasure of owning a Gap Challenger for going on 13 years now. I should mention that I bought mine second-hand at a garage sale in the Tampa area for only five dollars. My antenna is one of the first 100 ever made, as it uses tyraps and not the metal automotive hose clamps. The folks at Gap consider it one of their prototype antennas.
So, what do I think of the Antenna? Well. . . If you are looking for an antenna that bolts together, requires no tuning, provides low swr's on all the Bands it is advertised to work, has no coils or traps to collect moisture, has a very narrow visual footprint, can be HOA friendly hidden between trees,and is about the Biggest Bang for the Buck, search no further, you have found your antenna. I give the Challenger 5 Stars for operation, durability, and fantastic multiband performance.

As I mentioned, my antenna is old, possibly 20 years or more. Mine came with the grey coax and it was finally starting to corrode along the shield. The antenna was performing intermittently, so I treated it to a new coax harness and capacitor, and it is now performing like new again. I moved the antenna from Tampa to Phoenix, so I am in a much drier area, I expect this coax harness may easily last 15 to 20 years. It cost $105.00 to replace the harness and capacitor.

I can work everything between 10 through 80 except for 30 meters, which I honestly have never tried. I only need to use the auto tuner on the Icom 746 to work 17 meters, a band the antenna is not advertised to work. You also may try adding a wire to the 12 meter rod, about a foot or two in length, and you may see a very acceptable match on 17, of course your match on 12 will suffer, but it may be a good trade off for you.

I have my antenna in a poor location, only three feet away from a six foot cinder block wall with rebar inside, and directly across from my neighbors metal utility shed. The antenna is also sandwiched between two ficus trees about 25 feet tall, and I mean sandwiched. Only about the top 6 or 7 feet of the antenna can be seen. The antenna does not seem to couple to the block wall or the trees. I should mention that I only run 100 watts, and at 500 or 600 watts, the antenna may couple to that metal shed. I am in a HOA community and have had the antenna set up for over a year, so far, no complaints.
So. . . what have I worked. From Tampa I have worked the South Pole, most of Europe. From Phoenix, I have worked New Zealand, Japan several times, Eastern Eroupe, again all on 100 watts.

On 80 meters, I get at least 100 KC's of bandwidth, I think in my case it is more like 150 kc's. Excepting 17 meters, my highest swr is 1.5, most bands are 1.2. I should also mention that I'm a SSB operator, so I cannot vouch for the CW portion of each band, but suspect the SWR's are good there too.

One thing I would change if assembling a new or used Challenger, I would purchase stainless nuts and bolts to assemble the tubes at the "Gap Joint" I would ditch the use of the sheet metal screws as they eventually loosen. I would do the same for all the tuner rood connections too.

I VERY HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS ANTENNA FOR MULTIBAND HOA COMMUNITY OPERATIONS. ALSO, THE TECH SUPPORT FROM GAP IS UNBEATABLE! THESE GUYS REFUSED TO TAKE MONEY FROM ME TO MAIL OUT A MANUAL TO ME. This was back when the were not available online. Also, if you want a shorter antenna, you can choose the Titan, and you DON'T HAVE TO USE THE ELEVATED COUNTERPOISE. YOU CAN USE TWO RADIAL WIRES APPROXIMATELY ONE AROUND TEN FEET, AND THE OTHER AROUND 42, THIS IS FROM MEMORY, SO CALL GAP FOR EXACT LENGTH, AND OF COURSE, THIS COMES FROM GAP TECHNICAL SUPPORT.

I hope you will find this review helpful. 73,

Michael
King Mike 2 You
 
W6KY Rating: 5/5 Nov 18, 2012 20:29 Send this review to a friend
24 YEARS LATER - W6KY  Time owned: more than 12 months
According to Richard (GAP President) I was one of the very first GAP Challenger
owners. That was the fall of 1988. 24 years ago. All that has been said about GAP
service is accurate. I have needed very little service in my 24 years, but it was
always immediate. Once when a eucalyptus tree fell on my GAP and bent it at a
90 degree angle half way up. And just at the start of the 1991 CQWW CW. I still
managed over 100 individual countries with the vert/horz Challenger. The new top
section arrived the next Monday via FedX. Another time when I moved and managed
to loose my CW capacitor for 80 meters. A new one arrived within days…

My main thing is performance. I operate low power, 100 watts or less. Rigs have been
IC-761, IC-756PRO, IC756PROII and Elecraft K1-4 (QRP).
No amps. I have been on a small lot and the GAP has been my only antenna.

Here are the statistics:
100,000+ QSO’s.. No DX or WAS nets. All individual.
303 countries confirmed Low Power. 212 Confirmed QRP (Elecraft K1-4)
ARRL 5BDXCC, DXCC Mixed, Phone, CW, Digital, 80,40,30,20,15,17,15,12 and 10.
(Yes the GAP works fine on 30 and 17 with my Drake tuner).
ARRL WAS 80 Mixed, 40 Mixed/Phone/CW/RTTY, 20Mixed/Phone/CW/RTTY,
15 Phone/CW.Digital, and 10 Phone/CW/Digital.
ARRL Triple Play Award – LOTW confirmed all 50 states Phone, CW and Digital.
ARRL Challenge – LOTW confirmed 1000+ countries.
CQ Magazine – WAZ, WPX

A 3 ring notebook full of contest awards. Most recent 1st Place 2011 ARRL Sweepstakes
San Diego Low Power Unlimited. San Diego is ‘Contest Country’ but I love to
get in there and play.

All in all, I think the Challenger is the best all band vertical out there. There are no
Coils and capacitors to heat up and waste RF. My GAP has always been ground mounted
And I never have worms crawling out of the ground to escape the misplaced RF. The GAP
puts the maximum amount of RF in the atmosphere where it should be. Receive is also very
quiet. Two weeks from now I will listen to the big guys here on 160 with their phased 200 ft
towers calling CQ right into their pile-up. I can hear on my Challenger what they can’t on
their towers. They will be listening to lightening strikes in the Midwest.
I also have 9 countries on 160 including EA8, KH4, KH6, KL7, TI, VP9, VE, XE and K.

73 and Enjoy,
Art W6KY
www.w6ky.com
 
AI4HO Rating: 5/5 Oct 16, 2012 22:22 Send this review to a friend
Challenger DX..still one of my favorite antennas  Time owned: more than 12 months
Greetings and salutations, my, my how time flies when you're having fun..on the bands that is. I am long over due on a follow up revies of my GAP Challenger DX antenna. Having had this up well over 3 years now, and it has had quite a bit of use, with pretty much little to no maintainence given to it. This antenna is still knocking them dead, i use it a lot, almost every morning on the Treasure Coasters Net on 7.153MHz, I switch between my Challenger and my 40 meter loop, depending upon band conditions. I usually switch back and forth frequently as band conditions on 40 vary frequently. One day while on the net, I had switched between the two antennas, and had finally settled on one antenna cause it gave me the best signal to noise ratio, I could hear every body, every body could hear me. Which is important when you are the net control station, well, went ahead finished the net and we were at the very end when I actually looked thinking I was on the loop when through out the net I had been using my GAP Challenger DX vertical. No wonder I kept getting, wow..sure are sounding here in..might have been Michigan, or New Brunswick, maybe Texas. I'm a believer in Rich's product.

As I have stated before, these antennas don't go together by themselves. I know, we guys aren't supposed to have to read a manual..any manual, however..I strongly urge you to this one time. If you are going to assemble this antenna correctly..ya gotta read, sometimes reread the manual, hell, have it right beside ya when yer puttin the antenna together, you can use it as reference. Take the time, do it right the first time, then there wont be any bitching or moaning, this antenna ain't worth a flyin flip..Well..did ya read the manual..probably not, or else you wouldn't be saying what a piece of crap the antenna is.
I have known Rich and Chris for..Oh my..10 years now. Rich strives for and usually meets, but mostly exceeds excellence on his antennas. Attention to detail, thats what GAP antennas are made with, attention to detail on each and every part, Rich sees to that. If you ever have a problem, give Rich or Chris a call, they will bend over backwards to make sure you are satisfied that they have solved your problem.

Get one, just do it, get one, you'll see what I mean. GAP Challenger DX antenna, perhaps the last antenna you'll ever get..unless its another of GAP's other great models to choose from.

73 de Mark
AI4HO
 
K5EMI Rating: 5/5 Sep 25, 2012 17:36 Send this review to a friend
Fine Antenna  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had a Challenger in the back yard for 19 years. It is my only antenna. I have had very good results with the antenna. It has SWR better than 2:1 as advertised (at least in the CW portion of the bands where I operate - I haven't really checked the upper portion of the bands. The location of the antenna is not too favorable, surrounded by trees and houses, yet it gets out well. The antenna has been trouble free all this while, with maintenance consisting of the occasional cleaning and re-tightening of screws. I am running about 1 KW into the antenna on all bands except 80, where it is limited to 500 watts. I am able to bust pile-ups in a short time. I would definitely recommend this antenna if you have limited space. It will serve you well.
 
VK1GG Rating: 5/5 Sep 12, 2012 02:47 Send this review to a friend
SUPERB  Time owned: more than 12 months
My Challenger arrived home
yesterday
>afternoon and myself and my good mate Steve put it back up in
the front
>of my 1.5 acre property away from my tower and 30' top loaded
vertical
>for 75m. I checked the tuning and it was great as I will show
you in a
>moment. I heard a ZL calling cq on 15m so I went back to him
and got 5/9
>and I was only running 50w. I then got 20/9 to a vk4 on 40m
again with
>50w. Last night I was getting around vk with 400w on 80m and
the 75m
>vertical was one to one and a half s units better and at other
times not
>much difference which was amazing as it is sitting on 60
radials in the
>ground. I was working around Europe also on 20m yesterday
afternoon with
>50w and getting 5/9 most of the time which was only 12db down
from my 2
>ele monobander at 50' as my tower is wound down at the moment.
As usual
>the CHallenger has impressed me when compared to beams and
efficient
>Marconi verticals so if I was to move back into the suburbs the
>challenger would be the only antenna I would need to dx on the
40m band
>and the higher bands and would be fine for ragchewing around
vk/zl on
>80m at night with 400w. This antenna is a load of fun to use
and looks
>great amongst the trees in my front yard! With my 17m coat
hanger mod
>installed on the short lower tube here are the swr's measured
with an
>mfj 259 at the feed point;
>
>10m-27-29MHZ 1.5 to 1
>12m- 2 to 1 across the band
>15m-1.3 to 1 across the band
>17m-1.3 to 1 across the band
>20m-1.6to 1 across the band
>40m-1.1 o 1.2to 1 from 7.00 -7.250( COUNTERPOISE WIRES WERE
CUT BACK
>TO 20' AS MY GROUND IS MOIST)
>80m- under 2 to 1 from 3770-3840
>1 to 1 SWR at 52MHZ
>1 TO 1 SWR AT 150 MHZ
 
WA4RG Rating: 5/5 Sep 6, 2012 08:30 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just put up the Challenger yesterday and I am very impressed thus far.

I have several wire antennas that are up pretty high but the Challenger hears better than the wires. Over the years I have had a few verticals and the one thing that always bothered me about verticals was the noise level. The GAP has lower noise than my dipoles and windom. While tuning around I found I was able to hear DX like VK and 5N that I could not hear at all with the wire antennas.

Not having to use a tuner since the antenna has a flat SWR across most of its bands is a real plus for those of us that like to experiment with Automatic Link Establishment (ALE).

One of these days I'll put up another beam but in the mean time, the Challenger looks like it will be an asset.
 
K4GHR Rating: 5/5 Mar 12, 2012 17:39 Send this review to a friend
Excellent product that works very well  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've now had my Challenger DX for over a year. I'm still as pleased as I can be with it. I've worked the world with it and my barefoot FT-450. It's flat SWR is a great feature that makes operation so easy. No tuner needed.

I've seen a few negative reviews on eHam. Hard to explain. The product is sound. Follow the directions carefully, take your time, and in 3 or 4 hours of work you can have a great antenna. And yes, use ONLY 3 radials. Look at the number of 5's this product gets. That says something.
 
W6PUG Rating: 5/5 Mar 11, 2012 08:31 Send this review to a friend
Challenger HD awesome  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Follow up review: have made about 50 contacts with the ruggedized Challenger and it has done a really great job. My QTH horrible for European DX but already have France and all over US, etc... Challenger works great when footprint is challenged; the HD version does not need guying, so that makes it even better because we have strong canyon winds. One of best investments I have ever made; cutting down my horizontal loop today - it has been a workhorse but it is now not needed with the GAP Challenger. Good job designing it.
 
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