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Reviews Categories | Antennas: HF: Vertical, Wire, Loop | Cushcraft R-8 Help

Reviews Summary for Cushcraft R-8
Cushcraft R-8 Reviews: 106 Average rating: 4.0/5 MSRP: $450 to $480
Description: 40-6m omnidirectional vertical antenna
Product is in production.
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AK4AT Rating: 0/5 Jun 24, 2014 00:46 Send this review to a friend
Good Design But Poor Quality After MFJ Took Over  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have to give this antenna the worst rating simply because manufacturing quality is awful now that MFJ owns Cushcraft, and there is absolutely no customer support. I've attempted to contact them several times using several methods, end even wrote a letter, and they would not reply at all.

The R8 is a brilliant design and used to be accurately manufactured from quality materials by Cushcraft. I got one of the post MFJ R8's and trouble began on the first day. Not all of the hardware was included, the clamps were poor quality, drilled holes were misaligned, and some of the tubes were not cut to the proper lengths. After it had been up a few days and rained on, SWR climbed to unusable levels. I found the traps were not properly sealed and wet inside, and the screws the factory assembled them with were too long and touching the windings, causing shorts at power levels above QRP.

If you have a R8 and are having trouble keeping the stubs tuned, or SWR climbs during transmitting, disassemble the traps, dry them out, reseal them, and snip the tips off of all of the assembly screws before reassembling. If the stubs don't allow you to adjust on some bands to begin with, check the lengths of the tubes against the specs on the parts list. At each joint, twist the tubes to see if the clamps are holding the joint tight. Moving the clamp to be flush with the top edge of the outer tube might help. I had to go buy all new high quality stainless clamps because the MFJ supplied clamps strip before they can tighten enough.

The 80mph wind rating is no longer true. There is a weak point where the lower stub base plate (rectangular 2-piece plate) attaches to the large diameter tube. Try to attach a 4 line set of Dacron guys near this point. Guying only higher or lower, or using only 3 lines is not sufficient. In strong wind from a direction between 2 of the guys, the upper part of the antenna will flex and force the lower portion to flex in the opposite direction causing it to under-buckle at this weak point. Check the tension on the guys frequently.

Don't bother trying to order replacement tubes from MFJ. You'll never receive them, and they are too expensive if you could. Buy lengths of tubing from DX Engineering instead, and take note that the tubes are doubled, one fitting inside the larger one.

I saw some remarks in the reviews about using ground radials. Ground radials are NOT necessary with this "ground independent" design, and will likely cause poor performance if attached. The short set of radials on this antenna are isolated from the antenna base, tower, etc. and are connected to the proper point in the network box to allow the design to work, and it works very well. The requirements (and problems) associated with using conventional vertical antennas do not apply to this design.

If there is a close lightning strike during a thunderstorm that causes some discharge through the antenna, damaging components in the network box, you'll need to replace the isolation cap and resistor. The specs are 100PF, 15KV, ceramic cap, and a 100K ,1W, 5%, film resistor. Check for melted paths on the board, and damage to the balun toroids as well. This board is not the same as the R7 and earlier R8 antennas used to have. It doesn't have the small diameter choke like the earlier models, and is configured a little differently. Likely it's yet another attempt to reduce manufacturing costs. Again, don't bother trying to order parts from MFJ. That's wasted effort.

If you are willing to properly re-manufacture one of these after receiving it from the factory to get it back to Cushcraft specs, and replace the poor quality hardware, there is not a better designed vertical on the market that I know of. It's too bad that MFJ ruined a good antenna by cutting costs on parts and hardware, sloppy manufacturing, no quality control, and no customer support. It shouldn't be necessary to rebuild a new antenna. For this, I can't give it a good rating.

I wouldn't judge a business on one bad experience because there could have been a legitimate reason for it, especially if they tried to make things right. However, in this case, there were multiple deficiencies, and absolutely no effort from them to make it right. Not even one single reply was received from them, like they just don't care at all.
K4EQ Rating: 5/5 Sep 28, 2013 12:53 Send this review to a friend
Very Fine Antenna  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Several years ago I had a Cushcraft R7 vertical and, during an 11-year period, I worked over 250 entities with it--all at 100 watts or less. So, upon my retirement two months ago and subsequent move to Missouri, I decided to put up the newer R8. My assumption was it would perform as good as or better than the R7. So far I have not been disappointed.

I was in the process of building a shack, a craft room for my wife, and a family room in the basement when the doctor said I needed total knee replacement surgery, which I had a couple of weeks ago. I decided to put a hold on the building project and get the R8 up so I could get on the air and have something to do during my recovery period. Up went the antenna and a small table in the bedroom. For simplicity I got out one of my many QRP rigs--an Elecraft K1. I've been having a blast ever since. The SWR on the R8 is acceptable on all bands and with just five watts I've been able to work just about anything I can hear. In not a lot of operating time in the past two weeks, I've worked around 20 countries and several states with a lot of nice QSOs. Being a long-time QRPer, this doesn't surprise me, but my point is the R8 does what it's supposed to do and enables me to work several bands with a single antenna. For what I want to do in retirement, this is perfect. By the way, my contacts have all been on either 40, 30, 20 or 17 meters.

If you're looking for a minimal-space, multi-band antenna that your neighbors are unlikely to object to and that works well, then the R8 may be just what you're looking for. So far, I couldn't be happier with it.

K3EY Rating: 5/5 Sep 5, 2013 08:00 Send this review to a friend
GREAT ANT!!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Here on eHAM 7 years ago I wrote a review on this antenna and it's still performing like the champ that it is, without fail and untouched in as many years fed with 9913. QRP or QRO doesn't matter it kicks butt. Couldn't be happier with this antenna.

K6BF Rating: 1/5 Sep 4, 2013 19:42 Send this review to a friend
Bad overall..  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I owned the R8 for three months and that's it i gave up burn the 30 meters coil cost 70 dollars including shipping takes three weeks to get it no more in stock waiting to be build from scratch down time.Specs (Calls it for 1.5kw )not even i just run 1K power PEP on 40 meters and almost burn again for the second time.

I think i do believe the tuning stubs create problems in the long run.The material is low grade as well if you don't use guy option chances is damaging the antenna in the wind.I switched to a different manufacturer it looks better and no more down time means more QSO's + DX and less manpower to install mounted at 12 feet of the ground by my self unlike the R8 and i need 2 more friends! That shows low grade is the material the used on the R8 sorry.

I cannot recommend this to anyone especially no source of help. I will give this antenna a low rating based solely on the quality of materials and workmanship which I would describe as substandard at best. I am in doubt that I would buy another antenna product from (MFJ) family after seeing this product.
KN6SU Rating: 5/5 Jul 16, 2013 21:22 Send this review to a friend
Great When It Works  Time owned: more than 12 months
I got the R-8 in 1998 and it's been mounted on a 5' section of galvanized pipe attached to the peak of my roof (25' up). I've had it down for maintenance 2 times since then, when for various reasons it developed very high un-tunable SWR (>25:1 on all bands per the MFJ analyzer). In both cases the problem was in the MN-8 matchbox. The MN-8 is a simple unit that contains two wound toroids and a blue disc cap. It makes electrical contacts with (A)the upper radiating section of the antenna, (B) the ground plane clamshell ring, and (C)the base. A & C are connected with aluminum brackets and B is connected via a wire flat braid. You'd think it should be bombproof, but it isn't. The brackets get oxidized and need routine cleaning. That can be done without opening the MN-8 box. However, I found I couldn't fix the problem and I opened up the box. The first time I did that I found the problem was poor soldering at the center coax connector and fixing it got another 3 years of good performance. When it crashed again, I opened the box, but couldn't see any obvious problems (on the "front" side of the board, so I removed the board from the box and, voila, found that one of the lower toroid wires had detached from the board! Easy to resolder. The other joints looked intact, but just to make sure I resoldered them as well. The R8 now works as well as it did in 1998.

As others have said, this is a multiband HF vertical, and such antennas represent compromises. My previous vertical was a Butternut HF-9 (used the 80m add-on kit and radials). I liked its being "trapless," but it was a very noisy antenna and required lots of real estate for the radials. I found that the R-8 worked just as well (and better) without the need for a radial system. Both required an ATU to get SWR down to 1:1. On 40 and 20, you can get 1.5:1 w/o an ATU, but you need to space the antenna segments where you plan to operate (either CW or SSB band segments)because the resonant bandwidth on 40 and 20 is fairly narrow. I set mine at the middle of the bands and use the ATU to get the best match that I need, since I operate both CW and phone. 20 and 17 seem to be difficult to independently tune mechanically (shared trap?), but an ATU works there when the R-8 is mechanically tuned to mid-band on 20.

Bottom line: I've had the R-8 for 15 years. When it works, it is a fine multiband vertical HF antenna that sets up over a very small footprint. I don't know about the MFJ version, which may use some less durable hardware parts according to some of the posters. All the hardware (clamps, bolts, etc.) that came on mine were SS. I don't know if MFJ has changed the aluminum Cushcraft used for the elements or the traps, but mine has stood up fairly well. Aluminum is what it is, and needs occasional cleaning. Last time I took the antenna apart I used Loctite C5-A copper based anti-seize compound between the elements, which seems to make a good electrical connection and protect from corrosion. I recommend it when you first assemble the antenna. Finally, the MN-8 is a potential source of serious problems, and you should always suspect it if you develop high SWR across the bands. The good news is that it is easy to repair.
AB6OJ Rating: 2/5 Jul 13, 2013 23:24 Send this review to a friend
material bads/electronic good  Time owned: more than 12 months
the design is excellent.
But the material is poor. After one season of wind, nuts of some parts is missing, two bolts of trap disapeared. It didn't happened druring 15 years of R7 before. Again Electronocally excellent, but mechanically they need a improve some more.
It says rugged design, and 80mph survival.
Yes Only design.
K2MMO Rating: 4/5 Apr 19, 2013 09:18 Send this review to a friend
Great antenna  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had mine for 6 years and have had great results.I have worked all over the world on CW and SSB most of the time without a tuner.Solid construction and good footprint for a vertical.It is up about 30 feet from ground so it does sway in the breeze however survived Hurricane Sandy without a scratch would buy another if need be.
W5RRP Rating: 5/5 Mar 19, 2013 18:38 Send this review to a friend
Wow  Time owned: more than 12 months
Have used verticals on HF since 1961. The R8 ranks at the top of the list. Yes, it does whip around in a breeze -- seems designed this way, it bends in a breeze instead breaking. With 100 watts, using ssb and cw I have worked and confirmed over 100 countries operating for 2 or 3 hours a week over less than 2 years. Like all products of this type, following the instructions exactly as written makes all the difference in the world. Though not advertised as such, the use of stub decoupling (similar to the Hy-Gain High Tower) seems to make this a superior vertical antenna. With this antenna, working DX is a joy.
K7KHZ Rating: 5/5 Dec 25, 2012 06:02 Send this review to a friend
Awesome!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Well, this is my second R8 I have purchased over the last 8 years. The first one was sold due to a move to the east coast. I am renting the house and wanted a quick, multiband vertical requiring no radials. Trying to watch the wallet, I bought a multiband, no radial vertical with a huge dissapointment (Won't mention the brand). Sold that piece of junk and went back to my proven and trusted R8. I have it 10' off the ground and performing like a champ! No DX problem here. It was well worth the additional cost. If I hear them I can work them. It is a little noisy but so is every vertical but my new Kenwood TS-590 has no problem pulling them in. If I could wish for one thing on this antenna it would be 80 meters and that would really put the icing on the cake!

I think the cost-performance ratio is a bargain and don't bother wasting your time looking at other multiband verticals if a vertical is what you want or need. You'll get all the DX you want with the R8.
PY2ONU Rating: 5/5 Dec 5, 2012 04:18 Send this review to a friend
Very good!  Time owned: more than 12 months
This is my second reviews after 1 year. The Cushcraft r8 is a fantastic antena, more there 200 entities worked in 1 year whith this product.
This is my second reviews after 1 year. The Cushcraft r8 is a fantastic antena, more there 200 entities worked in 1 year with this product. I had a little problem with water in the coils but silicone resolved this problem.
The materials are good (steel and good quality aluminium) an ROE is 1:1 in all bands (20 meters is 150 khz and 40 meters is 70 khz) but the internal antenna tunner of my transceiver resolve this question. The Cushcraft r8 have a little noise but all verticalls are noisy.
Overall I rate 5, all bands have a single antenna with great results for local and DX contacts. At the moment I have no way to spend yagis antennas and no space at home to install large antennas.
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