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Categories | Antennas: HF: Yagi, Quad, Rotary dipole, LPDA | OptiBeam OB6/3M High Performance Tribander Help

Show all reviews of the OptiBeam OB6/3M High Performance Tribander

You can write your own review of the OptiBeam OB6/3M High Performance Tribander.

K6ATZ  Rating: 5/5 Nov 25, 2011 20:50  Send this review to a friend!
Excellent design, production and performance  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The OB6-3M is a six-element tribander, combining a Moxon on 20 meters with a Yagi for 15 and 10. This design makes it possible to fit full-size elements into my limited raising space instead of resorting to traps, tuning stubs, heavy motors or other complexities, and in addition I find the look very clean and modern. This antenna is a real performer, and I'm especially happy with it on 20 meters where I believe it most clearly outclasses tribanders with shortened elements. With the antenna at 40 feet I have had wonderful results on all three bands, at both 100 watts and 1 kW.

I purchased mine through Array Solutions in the US. They arranged to have the antenna produced and shipped from OptiBeam in Germany, copying me on all relevant email. The owner of OptiBeam, Tom, DF2BlueOcean, has been very responsive via email to every question and comment during and after the sale, even when he was on a vacation trip. The antenna was manufactured in the time promised, and then shipped direct to my door in California overnight, with no problems and nothing required on my end. I also purchased an Array Solutions 5 kW balun, which is not strictly necessary but nice to have.

Production, inventory, packing, labeling and instructions were absolutely meticulous. No missing parts, no fit-and-finish problems. Everything went together so well, and so detailed were the instructions, that I was probably more cranky than I normally might have been with the Array Solutions balun, which was shipped to me separately from Texas with no instructions and a slightly sloppy weather seal. The balun is a good product and is performing well. Turning again to the OB6-3M, Tom's nicely bound assembly instructions are mostly text, with few pictures tied directly to assembly steps, but they are very very detailed and I suggest you read ahead, twice, before each stage...especially if you don't do it all in one session. I completed assembly and mounted the antenna on my tower over two or three short evenings and one Saturday morning.

Directivity and gain are excellent. SWR is exactly as promised, with clear minimums characteristic of a high-performance antenna, and no tuner (trimmer) is necessary unless you or your amp really want to, except up in the 10 meter FM range. True to the brand this is an "optimized beam" for those three bands, that's what I bought it for, and wow does it perform well there! In my first months with the OB6-3M I've had a lot of fun in the CQWW DX Contest, busted DXpedition pileups with one call, been the target of my own pileups in the CA QSO Party, and enjoyed long ragchews in good and bad conditions. You know, real beam stuff. Life is good.

OptiBeam marketing and documentation is up-front about the fact that this antenna is a compromise choice for 12 and 17 meters, and claims nothing for other bands, but since some reviews have mentioned these topics I thought I'd give a full report. Operation on 12 and 17 meters requires an external tuner at my station, as my Icom's internal tuner can't handle over 3:1. The OB6-3M seems to be basically a dipole on 12 and 17, and I estimate that receive and ERP are only about 40% of antennas cut for those frequencies. I've never been interested in 12, but I do drop in on 17 occasionally and - for what it's worth - while writing this review I easily made several long US QSOs and one 3,500 mile DX contact on 17 during an afternoon of mediocre conditions using this antenna. Tuning is sometimes even possible here on 6 and 30 meters due to tricks of impedance in my coax, but I can't hear anything except noise on those bands. That it tuned at all on 6 meters was a surprise, so I asked about this and Tom confirmed that the antenna has negative gain and an awful pattern on 6. That's probably true of 30 and 40 as well, if you can tune it there.

The total cost was about USD $1,400 delivered duty paid, similar to the price of the only US-made midsize tribander I'd seriously considered as an alternative before deciding that antennas achieving a similar turning radius through traps or tuning stubs are simply not in the same class. I paid an additional $91 for the optional Array Solutions balun. Weighing only about 33 pounds, the OB6-3M is easily supported by my US Tower MA-40. I'll be posting pictures and info about my tower project and OB6-3M via www.k6atz.us
 
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