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

Reviews Summary for Cushcraft A3S
Cushcraft A3S Reviews: 75 Average rating: 4.2/5 MSRP: $599
Description: 3 ELEMENT BEAM ON A 14' BOOM
Product is in production.
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OH2AUK Rating: 2/5 Nov 15, 2013 09:10 Send this review to a friend
Weak point  Time owned: more than 12 months
Hello! I have had my A3S up for more than 5 years and during that time I have had some problems with the antenna. Otherwise it`s a pretty good performer, but during hard winter ice-storms in Finland it fell apart. The weakest part is the driver element center insulator. Drilling 2 holes thru the fiber glass tube at this point is a mistake! Mine broke and I found half of the driver in my backyard. I replaced it with a solid rod and made a new platform for the driver. I used polypropylen clamps for fastening the element just like Optibeam does. Then I have had several problems with the traps. The capacitive tube portion of the trap is fastened with just 1 (one ) tiny screw and this screw works loose. Welding would probably have been a better solution. The plastic caps on the traps also went bad after a couple of years. Yesterday I noticed, that the antenna is "out of order" on all 3 bands. The Fres are 13.350, 21.600 and 26.300 MHz. I have to take it down (itīs abt. 100 ft. up) to check all the traps and connections. This is no joyride with temperatures around the freezing point and stormy weather!
Pretty good antenna for that price, but it needs help! This is maybe my last trapped beam.
K9AUB Rating: 4/5 Oct 4, 2013 20:42 Send this review to a friend
Excellent performing beam!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned several Mosley TA-33's, a HyGain TH3, a Telrex TB6EM, and several wire beams. I have a very good dipole up at 70 feet, as well as the usual verticals, so I have had a lot to compare the A3S with. First, don't depend on the factory settings for the driven element. They are AVERAGE settings, but your exact settings will vary, depending on local nearby metal, fences, metal-roofed shed, etc. Use the old Telrex idea to point the beam straight up in the air, and then make your adjustments to the driven element with an antenna analyzer and a stepladder. (Don't waste time adjusting the director or reflector. You can't improve on the factory settings.) If you adjust the driven element, remember that the resonant frequency will be HIGHER once the antenna is up in the air. I adjusted my A3S for resonance on the very bottom of the CW bands, and wound up with resonance on the low end of the phone bands. Fortunately, my rig tunes nicely on CW, despite about a 2:1 SWR on the bottom of the CW band, and about 1.5:1 on the low end of the phone bands. The A3S is a great performing beam for its size and boom length. Compared to a dipole up about 3 feet higher than the beam, the beam is about 2 to 3 S-units better than the dipole. However, the front-to-back ratio is amazingly good, and so is front-to-side, so while I get a couple of S-units gain in the desired direction, the signal is improved by eliminating side and rear rejection. The A3S seems to perform best on 15 meters, but is still quite good on 10 and 20. I have put 900 watts into the traps, and they do not seem to get warm or break down. I can hear and work stations on the beam that simply are not there on the dipole. It turns quite easily with a Ham-IV, but I'm sure a CD-45 would be more than adequate as well. Be sure to use a GOOD 1:1 balun on this beam. Don't cheat and go with a cheap balun. It is the secret to tame performance with any tri-band beam, and the A3S is no exception. Use conductive graphite grease in all electrical joints. My only modification was to use a solid 24 inch length of dielectric fiberglass rod (purchase from McMasters-Carr) for the center insulator on the driven element, and that gave GREATLY improved strength to the driven element. The hollow fiberglass tube supplied from the factory is said to be quite strong, but a longer solid rod will be much stronger, as well as affordable. Performance, I can bust pileups with the very best of them, often on the first call, and I can hear signals clearly that are down beneath the noise level with a dipole. If you have the money and tower, put up a Mosley TA-36. If you have a lighter weight tower and not all that much space, put up an A3S. You will be very satisfied with this beam, I promise. It's really all you need for 20-15-10.
VK3TDX Rating: 4/5 Sep 15, 2013 20:43 Send this review to a friend
Great but quality issue with traps  Time owned: more than 12 months
I own two A3S yagis and love them. Beautiful performers and I recommend entirely.

But . . there is a quality issue with the traps that I wish to tip to new owners.

On my newest A3S purchase (about 2 years ago) I noticed intermittent issues on 15 and 10 meters with SWR quickly shifting around with corresponding receive ups and downs. Very frustrating.

After multiple lowerings of my tower (major hassles!)and replacing what I thought was a defective trap I finally realized that in the factory assembly the screw inside the trap that connects the aluminium sleeve to the trap axle is not tight enough. Simply tightening it fixes everything.

If you are a new customer please pull back the rubber sleeve on the feed point side of every trap and make sure this screw is tight! Doing this might save you major tower work and I have done.

That said the DX just keeps calling me. What a great classic antenna!
73 Steve VK3TDX
VA2AFH Rating: 5/5 Sep 28, 2012 16:20 Send this review to a friend
My A3S need adjustment  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Very good shipping packaging and instructions. A little lacking on Cushcraft support to fix my SWR problem.

Went for center of the bands and the following were the results:

On the tower at 40':
13.735MHZ 1.0:1
19.568MHZ 1.1:1
27.400MHZ 1.1:1

Works fine with my FT-1000MP auto tuner but...

Here's my adjustment in inches to fix my SWR on 10m, 15m and 20m :

Reflector A1 = 93" B1 = 8.5" C1 = 37"
Driven element A2 = 80" B1 = 8.5" C1 = 37,5"
Director A3 = 74" B1 = 8.5" C1 = 35"

I gave it a 5/5 rating The antenna works great... strong reports into Europe, Middle East, Oceania and South America. I hope to make a QSO with an asian station soon.

I recommend this low cost beam to all peoples like me have closer neighbour.

Good DX.
NU1O Rating: 3/5 Aug 19, 2012 08:51 Send this review to a friend
Beware if running high power!   Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had my A3S up for 15 years. It is fairly easy to assemble, has a small footprint, and it is very light weight. I have used it while running the full gamut of power. I have run barefoot, using a moderately sized amplifier (a Heathkit SB-1000) and high power amplifier using an Alpha 8410.

The trouble began when I added an Alpha 8410 in June of 2011. The other day (third week of August 2012) I blew my third trap. Luckily I have never blown a trap in the winter. Cushcraft rates this antenna at 2 kW. It most certainly can not handle even 1500 Watts, nevermind 2000 Watts which is illegal in the US anyway.

I am now in the position of deciding if I want to replace a third trap (they have always blown on 15 meters) and run my Alpha amplifier at reduced power which reduces the effectiveness of the amplifier and brings into question the whole point in buying a legal limit amplifier in the first place. Or if I will put up a trapless antenna such as the Bencher Skyhawk or a SteppIR.

If you intend to run barefoot or with a small amplifier I would rate this antenna as 4 stars. I take away one point because it is not the most robust antenna out there and it is not an inexpensive antenna given it's light weight. If you intend to run legal limit power of 1500 Watts I would rate it a Zero as it is not capable of handling 1500 Watts.

I hope this helps somebody making a decision. I tried to be as unbiased as possible. I should also state I am in the fortunate position of having a crankup and foldover tower which makes maintenance fairly easy.

I gave a rating of three because it depends upon how much power you intend to run. So, this is actually two reviews in one. One for low to moderate power and one for high power usage.
NY6C Rating: 5/5 Jun 7, 2012 10:45 Send this review to a friend
Works as advertised  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I was originally skeptical about how much forward gain the A3S would have (especially on 20M). All I can say is "WOW". Since I put up the antenna I have been switching back and forth between the beam and my vertical (Butternut HF6V). There are many times where I can work a station with the A3S that I can't even hear on the vertical. The antenna is currently at 35 feet (1/2 wave for 20M). The difference at times is like night and day. With stronger signals the difference between the two can be subtle - but with weak stations it's obvious there is a big difference.

Construction is simple. The measuring can take a bit of time. It would be nice if Cushcraft color coded the pieces (especially for the price they charge) but it's not a major issue. With the help of a friend (WA9ZBV) we were able to get it assembled and put up with little trouble. There are three settings you can choose: Phone portion, Middle, or CW portion. We decided to average the numbers between "Middle" and "CW" - this was the perfect setting for me.

Below are three charts I created with an Array Solution AIM analyzer. The SWR curve is in red.

20M :


(notice the nice return loss for 15M)


I hope this review helps!

Greg - NY6C
KA4ETV Rating: 5/5 Feb 19, 2012 10:24 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Easy to assemble and worked perfectly
N6WIN Rating: 5/5 Oct 19, 2011 07:05 Send this review to a friend
Small, cheap, works  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I was given this as a gift to use during Field Day. I had prior experience over a decade with the A4S and have an A3WS at home.

This is a very easy antenna to assemble. It is relatively light and cheap. The traps stand up to legal limit power. Don't believe the Cushcraft marketing numbers for gain... my F12 C31XR would be equivalent based on their crazy numbers... but this is a good antenna for it's size.

I would buy one again if I needed a 12' boom to cover 20/15/10m.
KJ4VVU Rating: 5/5 Jul 19, 2011 08:46 Send this review to a friend
Great Antenna....easy assembly.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Very good shipping packaging and instructions. A little lacking in quality control in making sure all the parts in the hardware packages. Missed on of the smaller SS U-bolts for element to boom assembly. Had to purchase another one a Lowes to continue with the assembly.

Went for center of the bands and the following were the results:

On the ground (plastic sawhorses):
13.629MHZ 1.0:1
21.068MHZ 1.1:1
28.017MHZ 1.1:1

On the tower at 40':
14.214MHZ 1.3:1
21.237MHZ 1.0:1
28.350MHZ 1.2:1

Close enough for me...I gave it a 5/5 rating and didn't downgrade for the one missing U-Bolt. The antenna works great... strong reports into Europe from east coast of Florida.
KC8IMB Rating: 5/5 Dec 28, 2010 04:27 Send this review to a friend
VERY Satisfied  Time owned: more than 12 months
What else can I say? I have the A3S with 40M add-on kit and it's nice not having to switch to another antenna when going to 7MHz. This is my first beam. It was kind of wierd not having to call a DX station over... and over... and over. She's a pileup buster! This antenna was offered to me for a good price second-hand, but it was still fairly new (2005 MFG date). A deal I couldn't pass up, and glad I didn't! It's been said many times before, spend your hard-earned cash on the antenna system to improve ones station. Your ham-experience will be enhanced greatly.

Not sure how the ownership change is going to impact Quality, but I give my older A3S a big "two thumbs up".

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