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Reviews Categories | Antenna Rotators & Accessories | VBI-360 BEAM HEADING DISPLAY UNIT Help

VBI-360 BEAM HEADING DISPLAY UNIT Reviews: 20 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $250.00
Description: : The VBI-360 is again in production after long being out of production, since ~1994. There were no repair or upgrade services available since that time and it was only through a friend's unit that I got started with the repair and map upgrades: "W3FRG VBI Display & Repairs." The VBI-360, as designed, is a unique display unit that can be connected to most antenna rotors giving a graphic display of an antennas beam pattern on a great circle map presentation. The unit has a variable beam display, 0-90 degrees, which allows for a direct match to the beam width of your yagi. There is also the Long Path display feature allowing the 180 degree LED to be activated. Two options which truly upgrade the original VBI design are the “VBI PLUS - MultiDirectional”, which automatically displays the multiple beam configurations of the SteppIR© Yagi and the “90 Degree offset” for antennas offset by 90 degrees on a common tower. Full descriptions of these options, and more, can be found on the web site. All necessary items are included, cables, manual, two yr warranty, etc. Currently being offered are full color maps, map upgrades, new display units & repairs. The original size display unit is 16” x 16” x 1” with a custom 24” x 24” x 1” display unit also available.
Product is not in production.
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K3BZ Rating: 5/5 May 5, 2010 05:09 Send this review to a friend
Excellent map, works great, looks terrific in the shack!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
When I switched from a Yaesu rotator to an Alfa-Spid to turn my SteppIR 4-element, I found I missed Yaesu’s compass rose direction indicator. And while I love the Alfa-Spid, I just couldn’t get used to the digital degree indicator that came with it. Then last year at Dayton I saw the answer: the VBI-360 Beam Heading Display offered by Tom W3FRG. I've never seen anything like it. It even has major country prefixes imprinted on the map. When I got home I ordered the 16” x 16” unit. It arrived promptly but due to a lengthy shack reconstruction I hadn’t removed it from the box when I discovered that Tom was planning to offer a 24” x 24” unit. I mentioned to Tom that I wished I had waited….and to my happy surprise he was willing to make the exchange for the difference in cost. Not only that but he met me halfway between my house and his (we are both in eastern PA) to make the delivery… what a guy. You won’t find many as nice as Tom.
Now for the product: It was well packed and protected, with very clear and comprehensive instructions for installation and initial adjustment, which took about 15 minutes. The Great Circle map is an easily viewed circle with an LED custom-centered on my exact QTH. My display includes the option for use with the SteppIR antenna controller and also couples nicely with the Green Heron rotator control unit. It's an eye-catching, handsome unit and has a commanding presence on the shack wall above my operating position. My unit is set up to be powered on and off by my Green Heron, so operation is seamless. It works perfectly, showing the antenna’s forward direction with several bright LED’s that travel around the edge of the map circle, but the best part is that it reverses the indication (and blinks) when I hit the SteppIR’s 180 button….AND… it even has a special display mode for the BI-directional SteppIR setting! So at a glance, I know exactly in what direction and mode my SteppIR 4L is set, and what area of the globe it is covering. This is a tremendous advantage in a contest or when moving quickly to grab that rare DX spot. The 180 indication is also quite useful when checking long path vs. short path signals. After using the display for several months it has become the centerpiece of my shack and the focal point of my daily operation. It blends in so well with the rest of my set-up, I don’t know how I ever got along without it. It is slick. This is a shack accessory that quickly becomes indispensable. I'm extremely pleased with the VBI-360 and the way Tom W3FRG takes care of his customers. Thanks, Tom.
K7AWB Rating: 5/5 Feb 4, 2010 12:57 Send this review to a friend
Looks great on the ham shack wall!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I purchased this map display in June, 2009 after seeing it at Dayton 2009. After I saw it at the VBI booth at Dayton,I started to get that "urge" - that you get at the supermarket checkstand when you see a candy bar you like. I took home the literature, considered the layout in the shack, asked a few questions to Tom and ordered it. Tom was very helpful with my needs. When I got it connected to a Blue Heron RT-21 controller and my M2 OR2800 rotor on the work bench, I knew that the monies were well spent. It obviously is not a necessity, but an accessory that both would impress visitors to the shack AND give me quick bearings in the heat of a contest. I am considering another purchase for my 2nd tower with a Tailtwister and a third purchase later with a Canada-USA-Mexico map for VHF/UHF work from a third tower.
W0ELT Rating: 5/5 Jan 9, 2010 17:06 Send this review to a friend
The maps created by Tom, W3FRG are the best I've used  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
W3FRG did a very nice job of creating maps centered on my QTH. He had a nice set of options that I could choose from based on my application. Best set of maps I've ever had. Tom is also very nice to work with and very responsive to questions.
K7PI Rating: 5/5 Nov 21, 2009 10:03 Send this review to a friend
Kudo's for a great product and support!  Time owned: more than 12 months
The VBI is a ingenious device that tracts rotator direction with LED lights around a great circle map custom centered on your QTH. It is a great addition to the shack and always attracks comments from visitors. I've had a VBI rotator direction display stored in my closet for about 5 years (purchased in 1993) because the VBI is not directly compatible with the Orion DC pulse-type rotator I put up in place of a Tailtwister. I have missed having the VBI operational. I discovered that the Orion is compatible with the VBI display if mated with a Green Heron rotator control box and after a little research, I found out that a simple modification of my older VBI would be required to complete the task. So, I contacted Tom, W3FRG who told me the resistor to replace and e-mailed a copy of the board silk screen to aid in locating the part. Tom spent a significant amount of time with e-mails to help me through the modification and subsequent calibration of the VBI. All of this personalized service and donation of Tom's time on a product that he didn't even sell to me! Tom ranks right up there with Elecraft for customer service. I've got to also put in kudos for Jeff at Green Heron Engineering who provided significant help in setting up the controller for my unique set-up. You will love the VBI and dealing with Tom, W3FRG.
K7XB Rating: 5/5 Oct 22, 2009 14:19 Send this review to a friend
Super product, super ham  Time owned: more than 12 months
Before I review the VBI Beam Heading Display I would like to speak a little about the man behind the company. Tom, W3FRG is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. He spent countless hours personalizing my displays. I have one of the original VBI’s made by Vector Control Systems back in the early 90’s. Tom updated the map and fixed the display so it would turn off with my Green Heron control box. I was so pleased with Tom, and his dedication to customer satisfaction, that I ordered a second VBI display. My new VBI is 24” X 24” and also turns off with the Green Heron. It only took a few minutes to set the VBI display to track with the movement of my ntennas. You will love doing business with Tom.
K5MM Rating: 5/5 Sep 7, 2009 15:25 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Display  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I thought I missed the opportunity to own a VBI-360 some 8 or 9 years ago when (I believe) the display became extinct. I ordered a custom 24" X 24" display two months or so ago when I discovered the VBI-360 is currently available from Tom W3FRG. Tom's website provides a number of display options. He was very helpful and responsive regarding the configuration of my order. Unfortunately, despite Tom's excellent packaging, my display arrived damaged---Fedx somehow managed to break the glass covering the display--the glass shards damaged the actual display. Tom instructed me to return the unit for repair/replacement. He replaced the glass with plexiglass on the new unit. I'm using the display with a Green Heron RT-21 control unit. Tom's excellent instruction manual made setup/alignment very easy. I'm very pleased. I'm also happy to hear that Fedx indemnified Tom for the damage they caused.
MCO_1 Rating: 5/5 Feb 16, 2009 06:15 Send this review to a friend
Great addition to the shack!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I purchased my unit on ebay it appeared to be unused still in the original packing. I contacted Tom-W3FRG to have it checked out and have a new color map installed centered on my location. In very short order it was returned better than new with the color map. In my opinion you can't go wrong with the VBI-360 Beam indicator or Tom's service. Tom is a true professional and aside from that he is very friendly and a great guy to talk too! So if you get the chance grab one and send it to Tom for an upgrade.
THEMANSTAN Rating: 5/5 Feb 11, 2009 12:01 Send this review to a friend
It's fixed !!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought the VBI 360 about 11 years ago--and it worked perfectly until recently.
I opened it and realized that I didn't have the knowledge or the equipment to fix it, so it layed dead on my shack wall because the company that designed it went out of business.
Tom-w3frg - and I are good friends and we sked on the air frequently.
I mentioned the VBI problem to him, he suggested that I send it to him for a looksee.
Only because we worked together for years in the Space Industry, I knew of his excellent knowledge of circuitry and his ability to analyze and fix even the most complex electronic or signal problems.
He had the unit just a few short days and he not only came up with the failure , but he also fixed the cause as well.
During that time, it caught his interest and he looked into upgrading the map which was rather one color bland.
He has since created a sideline where he can not only fix design failures, but he now has the source to upgrade the map into a beautiful color scheme which is really eye catching.....and for those that have seen this design and wonder about getting one, he now has the ability to construct one in just about any map color format you'd want.
He is really an honorable guy and will work with anyone in a most congenial way---we are very good friends now and have been for years.
I'll close by saying that if anyone out there wishes one of these units and wants the feeling that it has strong technical backing, then Tom is your guy--go for it, you won't be sorry.
The unit he now has upgraded is beautiful.

KC4PE Rating: 5/5 Jan 29, 2009 11:41 Send this review to a friend
Super  Time owned: more than 12 months
Got this for Christmas 10 some years ago .... worked great and a very nice addition to the /shack....Was glad to see a new repair/upgrading service has taken over the project. Sent my unit in for new eproms. new multi color map and a general tune-up....Needless to say its now better then new.....
I wish Tom W3FRG would start making the so easy to glance up at the VBI on the wall rather than squint at the rotor readout to see where you are pointing...Also you can set up your antenna's beam width in the VBI so you get a instant readout of its coverage on the map...Cool!!!!
My wish list would included, of course new VBI's and also a little LED switch box so you could switch from one rotor system to another....Would be nice..

N2XWV Rating: 5/5 Jan 29, 2009 08:10 Send this review to a friend
great unit,rebuilt by w3frg tom, his work is excellent,  Time owned: months
Many years ago vector control systems made the VBI-360 rotor vector map for
> hams.
> This was a 16"x16" framed map of the world with a led showing the center at
> your home location.
> As you moved your antenna with the rotor control the LED's on the outline of
> the map would move too showing the direction and beam width on the display.
> This company has gone under years ago.
> Tom w3frg has been rebuilding these displays and i was lucky enough to get
> one with a new map that is colored to my specs and personalized with my call
> town and latitude,longitude., I would have never thought the one i have was
> rebuilt!
> His work is beyond meticulous,and all the cabling, and a reprint of the
> original manual comes with it in a protective sleeve., I would like to
> reccomend anyone that has one of these old displays that needs work to send
> it to tom, You wont be sorry. Tom is also building some of these on request.
> It is a great addition to any shack and a fine made tool.
> Go get one!!,,73 john ,,n2xwv
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