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Reviews Categories | Antennas: HF: Verticals; Wire; Loop | N6BT Bravo 5K Series Verticals Help

Reviews Summary for N6BT Bravo 5K Series Verticals
N6BT Bravo 5K Series Verticals Reviews: 10 Average rating: 4.3/5 MSRP: $179.00
Description: High performance vertical dipole
Product is in production.
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You can write your own review of the N6BT Bravo 5K Series Verticals.

K7DF Rating: 5/5 May 25, 2015 20:35 Send this review to a friend
N6BT Bravo 5A is a great antenna  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I upgraded from a Force 12 Sigma 5 to a N6BT Bravo 5A antenna last year and I am very happy with the performance. I had been looking at Tom's new design since it had a lower center of gravity and better efficiency.
The antenna works very well. Takes less power to make a contact. It's not a beam at 34 feet but it is about the best I can do in a HOA. Fully recommend this antenna.
OH2YY Rating: 5/5 Nov 16, 2014 08:55 Send this review to a friend
great pedition antenna  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned a remote controlled version of Bravo 5 close to 4 years. It was my primary antenna when operating from Cocos Keeling and Christmas Is. in 2011, Spratly in 2012 and Åland Is. this fall. Some people say it's ugly, but I like it. It's small, tubes are thin and already from a short way it's rather invisible.
Pro's 1) it's easy and very fast to assemble 2) short transport lenght 3) lightweight 4) low windload, center of gravity rather deep down 5) very simple and stable tripod included 6) current balun (ferrite beads) included inside the relay box 7) very good performance considering the small size of the antenna .
Con's 1) the control cable connections/connectors are very primitive. Takes time to connect and exposed to errors and loose connections. As the very first thing I replaced the connector at the antenna end to a plug-in type mil-grade connector and later I did the same at control box as well.

Over the yeards I have used several other vertical antennas and cannot claim that Bravo beats them, but it gives an excellent performance in smaller and lighter package. Bravo will be my choice on future trips as well, when I know that my QTH will be next to the sea.
Pekka, OH2YY
K6SBA Rating: 4/5 Sep 2, 2014 17:16 Send this review to a friend
Pretty: No; Performs:Yes!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
If you are looking for an elegant, nicely finished antenna, the Bravo series may not be for you. 5B4AIY in a previous review sums up this issue pretty well. I think his phase "engineering prototype" is very descriptive. That said the Bravo-5 is built strong enough for any portable journey.

I originally had the manual version in early 2010, but sold it because I found the changing of jumpers for band switching to be annoying.

About six months ago, I bought the remote version and took the antenna to the high desert of California (Joshua Tree). My first contact was with a station in Wales on 12-m. That was pretty exciting. For the next three days I made many DX contacts, particularly on 20 and 17 meters.

The antenna only takes a few minutes to set up, EXCEPT for connecting both ends of the multi-conductor cable (not furnished with the antenna); this takes an additional five or ten minutes. I solved this problem by installing 6-pin Molex connectors on both ends of the cable, and at the relay and control boxes. This (or something similar) should have been part of the design.

Another issue is communicating with Tom N6BT. I had to struggle to place an order with him. I think he needs to delegate the marketing and sales to someone else who has skills in that department. Good customer service is the foundation of success.

I am keeping this antenna, even though I have had to modify it (connectors) and think Tom could have produced a more finished product. The Bravo-5 performs better than any compact antenna I have tried; that in itself may be enough of a recommendation.

73 de K6SBA
David in Santa Barbara, CA
KG8CO Rating: 4/5 Aug 27, 2014 21:37 Send this review to a friend
Good  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Sitting here on 3D2 I would have to say that overall I am happy with the antenna.

In the beginning I found that the antenna seemed long on 12-20 and the low SWR that was claimed on 10 wasn't there.

To make a long story short, I coiled up some of the CAT 5 control cable near the relay box, and that fixed the issue. I am thinking the manual should mention that.

The users guide I have, says it has latching relays which would have come in handy this trip, but as the other review stated .... the relays are not latching.

It plays on the beach ... what more can I say.

5B4AIY Rating: 4/5 Aug 29, 2013 00:30 Send this review to a friend
I give it a 4 because it works, not because it's pretty!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This review is a mixture of the good, the bad, and the plain downright ugly! On the good side, the antenna works, and works quite well. On the bad side, I dislike this 'minimalist' construction, the use of hose clips, and the incompleteness. On the ugly side, well, just take a look!

First, I will readily acknowledge the genius of Tom Schiller, N6BT, as the designer of this antenna and other compact antenna systems. Along with the Sigma-5 series of antennas, he has revolutionised the compact antenna system with his innovative designs. That being said, I do think that his productions could be far better engineered and look more like a finished product and less like a 'garden shed' production.

Part of my complaint stems from the costs. By the time the antenna arrives here, with shipping charges, Customs duties and VAT, its price tag has now inflated to $450, and for this price I expect a far better finished product.

If you compare the quality of the Sigma-5 antenna with its electrically identical TransWorld sibling, the Traveller or Backpacker, you will see a world of difference. I wish Transworld would now take the Bravo-5 antenna and turn it into a well-finished product. The mechanical design of the Bravo-5 whilst adequate, is certainly not pretty. The use of bits of aluminium tubing secured with worm drive hose clips is ugly to say the least. I wonder what it would look like if TW re-engineered it so that it looks and feels more like a finished product and less like an engineering prototype.

Tom justifies this by claiming that he specialises in a 'no-frills' approach and that this is in the interests of low cost and ease of maintenance especially under DXpedition conditions. Well, I do not believe that it would cost any more to produce a decently finished version that does not look like an eyesore.

The antenna is not supplied with any control cable, and whilst you guys in the US might well have a Radio Shack on every street corner stocking miles of 6-core control cable at pennies a foot, the same is not true elsewhere. Here in Cyprus I have scoured the island's electrical distributor stores, and cannot find any 6-core cable with multi-strand conductors. The only thing I can find is solid-core CAT-5 cable. If I look on eBay, I find what I'm looking for, except I have to purchase a whole reel of it at an exorbitant price. For the moment, I cannot 'remotely' control this antenna, I am reduced to using a pair of wires and a 12V battery at the base and wiring it to the connectors of the band I wish to use. The previous design used latching relays which would have remained selected without constantly having to provide power, but alas, that design has been 'improved' by the use of normal relays. Unfortunately, the large ugly power indicator is merely a 12V filament lamp, which consumes as much current as the relays! Indeed, when switched to a band other than the high section of 20m, the antenna relays and the power lamp consumes more current than my Elecraft KX3! The connections to the antenna and the control box are by means of terminal barrier strips - ugh - yet another piece of 'no-frills' engineering. When I've managed to find some control cable, I will replace these with latching 6-pin plugs and sockets.

OK, so much for my gripes and complaints. The antenna, when it has been tuned, is not quite as flat across the bands as the old Sigma-5 or Transworld Traveller/Backpacker. On 10m, when resonant at the band centre, the SWR is a modest 1.3:1 but this worsens to about 2.5:1 at the band edges. On 12m it is a nice flat 1.2:1 across the band, but then this is a very narrow band. 15m is 1.2:1 at the centre, and 1.8:1 at the band edges. 17m, as you might expect, is essentially flat like 12m, and is 1.1:1 across the band.

20m is a very different story. The antenna is a very narrow band device on this band, and has to be split into two sections. By adjusting the antenna so that it is resonant at the centre of the low frequency half, at the resonant point of 14.088 it is 1.4:1 but this quickly rises to 2.2:1 at 14.000MHz and at 14.175MHz. Similarly, when switching to the high band, the resonance point is 14.263 where the SWR is 1.2:1 rising to 2:1 at 14.175MHz and 14.350MHz. You therefore have to accept some compromise in the 20m operation, or be prepared to use an antenna tuner if your rig dislikes these SWRs at the extremes of the respective band settings.

That being said, how does it perform? I tend to use the antenna portable, operating on the cliffs overlooking the sea, and on a typical day using my Elecraft KX3 at 5W SSB on 20m I worked a GB exhibition station getting 5-6, HB9 getting 5-5, 9A3JB/P getting a 5-4, CT1 getting a 5-4 off the side of his beam! Thus, virtually anything you can hear you can work. In other words, a communications radius under average conditions of about 3,200km with 5W SSB. Clearly, it does work, and works quite well.

For those with only a modest area in which to erect an antenna or for portable operation, then the Bravo-5 might well be a suitable antenna to consider. Certainly it performs far better than the equivalent mobile whip type of antenna, being a more efficient radiator, but against this it must be said that it is hardly a pretty sight. This was summed up by the comment I got from my radio club when I first put it up at our portable site, "Did you make that yourself?" They were very surprised when I said that this a commercially produced item.

73, Adrian, 5B4AIY
W7VI Rating: 1/5 Oct 9, 2012 11:52 Send this review to a friend
Poor Preformance  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Bought the antenna after researching the few reiews and talk to some Hams that know Tom. The antenna was easy to assemble and with the marks on the tubes for the best VSWR at Tom's place I was hoping for excellent preformance. Check the VSWER with two different pieces of equipement and came up with the same result. VSWR was way high on all bands expect 10 meters. I have sent Tom 4 E-Mails with NO responce on how to correct the VSWR. So I have tried to tune the antenna per the manual with no acceptable results. Finally I am running the antenn through a tuner with non acceptable results. Still hoping for some responce from Tom . I recommend that if your going tto purchase an antenna for restricted or CC&R's restriction I look at other avenues other that the Bravo series antennas. The support is not there and in my case I believe it will not come. I have set the antenna aside. I am using a GAP antenna and with great results on the 10 through 20 meter bands and that is what I bought the Bravo-5 . Very dissappointed in the product and
Tom for the lack of response . For 200+ $ it was a very dissapointing lesson. Look very carefully before purchaseing this product!
W6LX Rating: 5/5 Apr 21, 2012 18:08 Send this review to a friend
Very interesting design  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The current group of shortened vertical dipoles (Sigma 5, TransWorld TW-2010, etc.) has a lot going for it, and most DXpeditions now use at least one.

Probably the biggest pain about vertical dipoles, however, has been the need to feed it in the middle. The feedline has to be hung, suspended, or otherwise routed so as to minimize interaction with the antenna. Not only that, but the box housing the loading and matching coils is usually in the center, which means that any tuning to be made involves climbing a ladder or having to lower the antenna.

The N6BT Bravo 5A's breakthrough innovation is the placement of the matching box and feedpoint at the bottom of the antenna where it can be easily reached. I have owned both types of dipoles and, for me, this one change has created a new playing field and a new benchmark for vertical dipoles. This one improvement sold me on the Bravo 5A. (The Bravo 5A is the model with remote bandswitching and regular non-latching relays for higher power handling.)

My Bravo 5A arrived from Tom's lab already pre-tuned. I noticed marks he had made with a red marking pen, set up all three radiator lengths to the red marks and found that the resonant points were close enough to relieve me from doing any further tuning. This was a nice touch.

I also strongly recommend adding the "splash alodine" finish option in which Tom coats the aluminum with an anti-corrosion coating. This process also imparts a very cool blue-and-gold coloration to the aluminum.

In fact, there are numerous other options that N6BT can make you aware of if you contact him.

I am feeding the 5A with coax and a choke balun formed by winding a few turns around a 4-inch PVC section.

The 5A seems to be quieter than another vertical dipole I had used in the past. It may be that the other dipole's radiation pattern was messed up by the way feedline was routed, even though I thought I'd done a good job of keeping it horizontal. This was a happy and unexpected characteristic of the Bravo 5A.

A tripod is included with the Bravo 5A which keeps the 5A at a height of about 3 feet above ground. You can also dispense with the tripod to mount the antenna at any desired height. It's a very versatile system.

All in all, Tom N6BT is wonderful to work with and his new antenna invention is a very interesting idea that overcomes much of the pain of conventional vertical dipoles. This antenna is the best answer we have to the problem of center-fed vertical dipoles.

W3KC Rating: 5/5 Sep 22, 2011 12:20 Send this review to a friend
Bueno Bravo  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Mounted it on the pergola at 10 feet (base).
Quick manual adjustment to 17m and have been working numerous dx stations with only fair band conditions and modest power.
Quality is evident and the manual is clearly written.
Nice compact antenna for base or field.
K6SBA Rating: 5/5 Nov 13, 2010 13:20 Send this review to a friend
Xlnt Fixed or Portable Antenna  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased this antenna for a vacation trip, travelling by car. It had to be a self-supporting antenna (i.e. vertical) with no section more than 3 ft. long when disassembled. In the past, I have used the Buddipole, hamsticks, Superantenna and others, all with less than stellar results. Just because you can resonate a tiny antenna, it does mean it will radiate much power.

Enter the new Bravo-5 series from Tom N6BT, former owner of Force-12. The new antenna is available in a manual or remote tuned version. I choose the manual version for simplicity's sake. If you chose to use the antenna in a permanent situation, the remote tuned version is probaly more convenient.

Make no mistake: this is not a tiny antenna. When set up for 20 meters it is about 11 feet tall, with two "radials" extending out about 7 feet from each side of the antenna.

Since so many portable antennas are use in different locations, it is helpful to use an antenna analzyer to fine tune the resonance. Setup take about 5 minutes once you have done it a couple of times. All that is needed is a screw or nut driver.

My primary use of the antenna was on 20 and 17 meters cw and psk31. Once set up I was able to work about 100 kHz without the need of readjusting the antenna elements. Readjusting the frequency within the same band is very simple: loosen one element clamp and move it up or down an inch or two.

There is no doubt in my mind that this antenna hears much better than any portable antenna I have used before. Really tiny antennas many be useful for backpackers, but if you are portable and running qrp (as many portable ops are) you need to efficient antenna. The Bravo-5 series fits the bill.

N6BT's Bravo antennas are really well built and can handle the less-than-gentle care that portable antennas experience. Unfortunately, smaller antennas such as the Buddipole and Superantenna are fragile compared to this antenna.

Congrats to N6BT for taking his years of antenna design and manufacturing to develop an innovative and very useful antenna.

73 de K6SBA
David in Santa Barbara, CA
W6XR Rating: 5/5 Aug 7, 2010 12:32 Send this review to a friend
Great Antenna  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just assembled and installed one of N6BT's (used to be Force 12 owner) Bravo 5K vertical dipole antenna. This design, an asymmetrical vertical half wave dipole, can be manually adjusted for any frequency between 20 and 10 meters by moving a jumper wire within the weather proof black box to resonate the antenna on the desired band. Resonance can be attained by using one or more of the three methods ably described in the well written manual. Following the manual precisely, I had only a small length adjustment of the vertical component of the antenna to attain a very low VSWR. The Bravo 5K includes a tripod that easily supports the lightweight structure. Mine is now mounted on the ground and on 17 meters, it performs exceptionally well running barefoot or pushing 1500 watts though the aluminum. This off center fed vertical dipole is marketed as the next generation and it is a unique solution where performance and price are well balanced.

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