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Reviews Categories | Antennas: HF: Yagi, Quad, Rotary dipole, LPDA | Cushcraft A3S Help

Reviews Summary for Cushcraft A3S
Cushcraft A3S Reviews: 77 Average rating: 4.1/5 MSRP: $599
Description: 3 ELEMENT BEAM ON A 14' BOOM
Product is in production.
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K7NNV Rating: 0/5 Jun 3, 2017 23:31 Send this review to a friend
Trap Issues  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I recently purchased a A3S and a A3WS from HRO. I assembled the A3S and installed it on my 40 foot Rohn 25G tower. Rather than use the coiled coax balun I installed a DX Engineering 1:1 balun. The SWR on 10 meters was swinging from 1.2 to infinity and back (using the radio's swr meter) and I suspected a bad 10 meter trap. After researching the issue on the internet I found this to be a common problem due to quality issues with the traps. I will call MFJ Monday to request a replacement(s). Unfortunately, I am reading the replacements have major issues also. I highly suggest you research issues with the A3S prior to puschasing one
K6BRN Rating: 0/5 Nov 13, 2016 16:53 Send this review to a friend
Not what it used to be....  Time owned: more than 12 months
After many years of good experiences with a Cushcraft A3S, I decided to replace the antenna due to its advanced state of corrosion and rising SWR - not a good sign. I live close to the beach, have frequent evening fogs and the antenna had 20+ years of wear on it. So I bought a new one to replace it. I knew the antenna very well, after all, right?

Well - No I didn't, as it turns out. Things had changed. A LOT!

1. MFJ bought Cushcraft.

2. The tough stainless steel hardware I was used to was replaced with some very poor SS alloy that would gall and self-weld when nuts were placed on finger tight - NOT KIDDING. But not to worry - the alloy was so weak the welded bolts and nuts would simply snap off with a pocket wrench under mild pressure. Home Depot yielded ready replacements and it is telling that their hardware was actually of better quality.

3. The TRAPS! AUUUUUGHHHH! (Feel the pain, because it IS real). Original A3S traps coils were wound on tough, rigid fiberglass tubes, conformal coated and covered with a capacitive sleeve that was never intended to bear a mechanical load. And they didn't need to, thanks to the tough fiberglass tubes that carried the bending moment of the elements. Enter the NEW element design, which I unwittingly bought into. The new traps are wound on a clear resin plastic form, with no structural fillers (like carbon fiber or fiberglass) for rigidity. Their ends taper in thickness to about 1/2 diameter, flattened, to fit into the crimped aluminum tuming attached at their ends. In short - they flex like crazy, sag under load or heat and cause major SWR jumps and trap shorts (capacitance sleeve to now uncoated trap coils) that began within a week of antenna erection.

That is my experience. I worked with MFJ to try and solve the problem. Through and past the warranty return period, unfortunately. They were very cooperative in sending traps with added sleeve to center spacers, to transfer load to the thin outer capacitive sleeve, which was never meant to carry a load, to reinforce the "saggy" traps. But, they did not successfully re-tune the traps to compensate for the changed dielectric constant caused by the added spacers. So antenna SWR suffered badly and re-tuning it so that all the bands worked properly proved problematic - I tried, many times. And then, after a time, the traps sagged anyway, and the jumps started again.

After spending two years constantly working on this junkpile, I replaced it with a Mosley TA-33-MWARC. No problems with the Mosley, so far.

So... if you are considering purchasing this antenna new - well - you've heard my experience. But if you can get your hands on an older, used A3S with fiberglass trap coil mounts - you may be very happy, as I once was.

To find out what kind of trap (new or old design) you have, take the outer sleeve off a trap by popping the plastic end covers off, taking out the single self-tapping screw holding it on, and slide the inner assembly out. If the coil form is clear and you can flex the trap over your knee, its junk.

Frankly, I don't know HOW MFJ sells these things with a clear conscience. The "bendy" new trap designs WILL fail, per my experience - in short order.

And forget about putting the A743 40M dipole add-on on this antenna. The traps it attached to were the first to go. But not the last.

After demonstrating the trap problem to one local radio supply store I do a lot of business with, they promptly dropped the product.

BTW - when installing the new A3S, all new (tested) coax, connectors and mounts were used. The problem was never in the feedline. And Penetrox was used during assembly (but not inside traps) - which made it really easy to take down.

Brian - K6BRN

KG5ABW Rating: 5/5 Sep 23, 2016 05:27 Send this review to a friend
KG5ABW  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had mine up about 45 feet on my tower for 2 years. It along with an amp will bust thru pile ups. Great antenna. Any questions email
me from my QRZ.COM web page.
G4RRA Rating: 3/5 Jan 30, 2016 03:16 Send this review to a friend
Its great when it works  Time owned: more than 12 months
Ive had this antenna up about 5 years,I cant say its been trouble free.The good news is its nice and light and when it works ,it works well for a trapped yagi however..
Endless intermittent problems with SWR,When it first happened I took all the traps apart tightened up the screws and put it back together,it then worked for quite a while,at least it did until the next time.The trap covers also seem to be prone to splitting and letting water in.In conclusion I'm glad I own a crank over tower,my advice would be don't buy one if you cant get the antenna down easily.
N3BWR Rating: 5/5 Dec 26, 2015 16:48 Send this review to a friend
pretty good  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I picked up a used mid to late 90s variation for 150 bucks. i assume its about this vintage because it DIDNT have stainless hardware holding it togehter, but, it was in very good shape considering. after some new stainless bolts and clamps and a few other little parts from cushcraft its working great for me. im only at 25 feet but im sure it would be even better at 50.
KB6YH Rating: 5/5 Oct 3, 2015 11:38 Send this review to a friend
Used mine since 1977  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've used mine since 1977. It is an A3 without the stainless steel hardware. I put Aluminox on the tubes that slide into each other. Aluminox is sold in hardware stores to use on Al to Al electrical connectors. Central California weather is mild.
It works great on top of 40 ft tower. No SWR problems and works like a 3 element Yagi should.
VE3TMT Rating: 5/5 Oct 2, 2015 14:29 Send this review to a friend
Still going strong after 8 years  Time owned: more than 12 months
It's been 5 years since my last review and the A3S still continues to do its thing. No issues with the antenna whatsoever in the 8 years it's been on the tower. I did replace the trap caps prior to installation and gave it all new SS hardware. The previous owner had it at least another 5 years. SWR is still spot on, 14.150, 21.200 and 28.400 all showing 1.0:1 SWR, and under 1.5:1 anywhere in the band's except the upper end of 10m. Small footprint, big performance.

Continues to bust pileups on the first or second call. Very impressed.
KE4ZHN Rating: 4/5 Mar 26, 2015 13:01 Send this review to a friend
A good tribander   Time owned: more than 12 months
I had an A3S when I first got my general license 20 years ago. The construction of it was okay, not great. I was a little skeptical of the fiberglass center insulator for the driven element but it has lasted 20+ years and still going. The U clamps that hold the elements to the boom are prone to twisting in bad wind if you don't secure them well. The trick is to tighten them enough to hold without crushing the boom tubing. The material's used were good quality aircraft aluminum and stainless fasteners. I didn't care for using a coax coil choke at the feed point but this is what the instructions call for. And it did seem to work fine. If I had to put one up again I would just use a good quality 1:1 balun instead. I never had much faith in so called coax chokes. The trap covers are plastic and will eventually fail with age. I had to sell mine due to a divorce and the fellow I sold it to is still using it today. The antenna has survived numerous bad storms and continues to work. It may not be the best quality tribander out there but it does a respectable job and will last many years if you put it up right. As far as I know all he has had to do to it is repair the leaky trap covers and straighten the elements after a very nasty storm caused one to twist on him. I haven't seen a recent version since Cushcraft was bought by MFJ. I hope they maintained the same level of quality or improved it. For the money you can't go wrong with one of these if you just need a basic old school tribander. I worked the world on it when it was mine and my friend continues to use it almost daily 20 years later. A testimonial to how long they can last with some care and maintenence.
PY8WW Rating: 5/5 Mar 25, 2015 23:35 Send this review to a friend
Excelente Antena  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Uma Excelente Antenas, foi de fácil ajuste, os níveis de SWR ficam em 1.1 no centro das bandas após o ajuste, material de excelente qualidade, recomendo, melhor relação custo beneficio do mercado no momento.
WK9U Rating: 5/5 Nov 10, 2014 22:25 Send this review to a friend
Great performer  Time owned: more than 12 months
I used the Cushcraft A3S beam for over a year. I assembled it, tuned it using an antenna analyzer, then erected it approximately 45ft(14m). The antenna worked as it should and never let me down. I was given great technical advice from "a gentleman" at Cushcraft who I've dealt with on a few occasions. I recently sold this antenna to another op across the country who will hopefully work as much DX and break pileups as I had. I would suggest this antenna to any DXpedition, new HAM, experienced HAM, or those with antenna restrictions. The beam isn't too big. Measurements on the ground seem a lot longer than what they look like up in the air. The longer boom helps the directivity and being the three elements are spaced apart so much (6'ea.), it's somewhat incognito as compared to a 6 element beam that draws your eye's attention to it.
Buy one !
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