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

Reviews Summary for GAP Challenger
GAP Challenger Reviews: 85 Average rating: 4.4/5 MSRP: $259.00
Description: Multi-Band HF Vertical
Product is in production.
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KD6JSM Rating: 5/5 Sep 12, 2014 04:22 Send this review to a friend
Good Deal  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought this antenna about a year ago to replace a R-7 because the Challenger has NO traps to clean and reseal. Putting it up was a breeze as long as you don't look back at the 31 feet bowing while you are pushing it up as it will scare you. I made a mistake and guy'd it in 3 places had to go back and do a fourth. My opinion I should have guy'd it higher up and added 4 more guy's. This antenna is plug and play. It works great and last a long time. I have run a 2 hour hf net on this antenna for over 10 months and it does a great job. Got most of my states with it , Chili,Japan,Cuba, Carocuo, and Venezuela. This is the only antenna I've bought that I feel was worth what I paid for it and the ground mount is a plus. Yes I would recommend this antenna to any one.Because it really works and does what it says it will.
KF7VXA Rating: 5/5 Mar 4, 2014 15:07 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic !!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
On a few of the forums, I have been given some flack about the Challenger. I've had it for a year now and it has been the best multi band vertical I've ever used.
Just in the last couple days, here are some of my contacts 10 Meters: Alaska (Many times), Russia, Costa Rica, US Virgin Islands, Hawaii (many contacts), Curacao, Netherlands.
12 Meters: Scotland. 15 Meters: Curacao, Japan (many contacts), Morocco, Alaska, Balearic Islands, Azores, Italy, Costa Rica, Canada.
I was just working those 3 bands, and not all day, just about 4 hours. I got on for 10 minutes today and got Croatia on the 3rd call in a massive pile up on 20 meters.
Many say this antenna does not work well at the higher bands, I think this shows what just a few hours can do. I'm in Idaho, using 100 watts, not a great location like the East Coasters, sourounded by tall mountains on 3 sides, much less than an ideal area to operate.
This antenna really shines on 20 and 40 meters. It also works as well or better on 80 meters than almost every multi band vertical with a much wider bandwidth. You will find 80 meters to not be super strong, but you can and will make contacts on 80. None of the multi band verticals with high bands also do well on 80 meters, so don't expect 80 to be like 40, but you will make good contacts.
One must remember, this antenna covers 9 bands, more than any other multi band vertical.
I find in most cases I break pile up's in less than 5 calls except for a very weak signal or many big guns, but 97% of the time, I get the contact.
Most of us don't have the money and space for towers and stacks of Yagi's. For me, that's the case. This antenna has put more smiles on my face than any other I've ever used, it gets better DX than all of my dipoles. Getting DX with a yagi on a tower with 1500+ watts is a walk in the park compared to any vertical, but this vertical consistently get's the contacts.
The Croatia contact I only read with an S-4. Any other vertical would not have been able to make out what the operator was saying. Being a vertical dipole, the Challenger is far quieter than other verticals. He gave me an S-5 report. Most contacts run S-7 to S-9 or S-9+ in other country's.
Anyone who tells you the Gap antennas don't work has never used one. If you cannot hear them, you cannot work them and this antenna does both.
I plan on a Hex beam soon. This will let me point my signal in one direction with gain. Even with the beam, I will still be using the Challenger.
The price is right, no traps, boxes with electronics or coils to go bad or blow up, nothing to get blown off and only 3 short counterpoise wires, this is the best multi band vertical available. No planting 60 long wires for the antenna to work against, it set up in 15 minutes. The SWR is also under 2 to 1 across every band, the entire band except 80, 1.3 to 1 is common. No antenna tuner needed and no lost signal from a tuner, it's a plug and play antenna.
You will need a dipole to work within about 800 miles. This antenna has a very low radiation angle, which helps it get the great DX. You cannot have both in one antenna if you want the best DX a multi band vertical can give you.
I bought a Gap Voyager DX (20 to 160 meters), I cannot wait to be able to work all of 80 meters well and some of the 160 meter band also.
If 80 meters is very important to you, no multi band vertical will get you great DX. You will need to buy an antenna made just for 75/80 meters. That will be expensive and take a great deal of space and hundreds of feet of copper wire radials, you cannot compare any multi band vertical to an antenna made just for 80 meters, something many who comment seem to forget.
I have not tried to work any 6 meters because no VHF/UHF gets in or out of our valley except the open end, so I cannot comment on 6 meters. On 2 meters, this antenna works as well as any other 1/4 wave 2 meter antenna. I can work the entire valley and open up the two repeaters that can be reached from within the valley with full quieting.
There are not many, many pages of 5/5 and 4/5 reviews for no reason, this antenna really works. There were a couple 1/5 reports, I can only figure the guy didn't know how to correctly assemble the antenna or had coax problems, because assembled right, it will be fantastic.

73's John
WB5THT Rating: 2/5 Dec 30, 2013 11:03 Send this review to a friend
Performs well, not good in winds & ice  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Ratings: Performance of the antenna is a FIVE. Very flat (and low) SWR across most of the bands. I mainly work digital modes on 10-15-20m and I have no trouble working the world on 50 watts. Usually (but not always) if I can see them on the waterfall, I can work them. Very pleased with the effectiveness of the antenna. Ease of assembly: I'll rate this a FOUR. There was some head-scratching involved due to a rather crudely done manual but I correctly assembled it without too much difficulty. Mechanical evaluation: This I must rate a TWO. The antenna is mounted on a rise in the terrain and we are quite windy in the fall and spring. I had three dacron guy lines attached to the antenna about five feet up just to keep it from flexing at the base and after a few weeks of occasionally gusty winds (up to 40 mph), the antenna developed quite a bend. Then after we had some freezing rain, the antenna was laid over almost horizontally to the ground. After the ice melted, the antenna did not return to its previous bent-over state. I added more guy lines to about the 10' level but due to the side matching rods, they interfere with the guy lines. The aluminum tubing diameter needs to be considerably up-sized for this to stand up to windy conditions. I'm *extremely* disappointed with the engineering of the antenna.
N7JS Rating: 4/5 Dec 1, 2013 15:23 Send this review to a friend
Pretty decent  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Probably one of the best verticals I have owned performance wise. It will smoke most other verticals on 20 and 40 meters. As far as the other bands....ehhhhh (Italian accent). Couple of things to know...this baby needs to be guyed otherwise it will fold over like a noodle with the first decent wind. It is self supporting as long as you install it in a bubble. Plan on spending some time adjusting the 25ft radials (or whatever you want to call them). Also kiss off your antenna tuner for anything over 2:1 that you want to work with this'll burn it up.
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 hope you will find this review helpful. 73,

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
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
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.
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