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Categories | Antennas: HF: Yagi, Quad, Rotary dipole, LPDA | Sommer XP Series multiband beams Help

Show all reviews of the Sommer XP Series multiband beams

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W3DX  Rating: 5/5 Mar 31, 2013 10:51  Send this review to a friend!
Tribute to Alf Sommer: Great Antenna System!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had a Sommer XP-508 multiband yagi for fifteen (15) years. We just had a very destructive wet snow that managed to bridge five of the closely-spaced elements and pile up a foot high. I calculated that the boom was holding 500 pounds of snow, and the boom finally collapsed.

I tried to contact Sommer Antennas to buy spare parts, but learned that Alf Sommer passed away in 2009 or 2010. I was very sorry to learn of Alf's passing, so wanted to write a review of this great antenna, and to pay my respects to a great guy.

Fortunately, I was able to fix the Xp-508. The booms consist of a pair of parallel 1 x 2 inch rectangular thin-walled aluminum tubes held together by aluminum castings. It turns out that the aluminum is stock-standard, and I was able to find what I needed online for thirty bucks, and got the antenna back on the air after a few afternoons of hard work. Iím glad I have a Glen Martin Engineering aluminum tower with a crank-down Hazer, so could do the repair with my feet on the ground.

But this is also a tribute to Alfís genius. The XP-508 doesnít have any traps or complex motors to fail. Other than the balun, everything consists of standard aluminum tubing that can be easily replaced. What you see is what you get.

As for the antenna, itís been a great performer. The XP-508 has nine elements that provide coverage on 6 through 40 meters. It provides a rotatable dipole on 30 and 40, and has at least three or four elements working together as a yagi everywhere else. Alf managed this with an ingenious juxtaposition of carefully designed elements.

Over the years, Iíve especially appreciated having more than 8 db of gain on the WARC bands. Iíve found that many guys in the big pileups have tribanders, so theyíre competitive on 10-15-20, where I can also hold my own, thanks to the XP-508. (Iíll never forget a brief opening that enabled me to work P5 on 15 meter SSB, when the P5 station asked everyone to go QRX so he could listen for the East Coast.)

But most guys are using verticals and dipoles on the WARC bands, unless they happen to own a WARC beam or a SteppIR or something else with some gain. So those are the bands where I can usually break the pileups with a single call. Thatís made a big difference, and has been my ďunfair competitive advantageĒ that enabled me to reach #1 DXCC Honor Roll.

So, thanks Alf. You designed a bullet-proof system of easy-to-maintain antennas that are broadbanded and have tons of gain. And forget about my mishap in the snow storm. It could have happened to anyone. Who could have ever expected that 500 pounds of snow could pile up? It was really my stupid fault. I should have cranked the antenna down and brushed it off. And if anything ever breaks, your what-you-see-is-what-you-get design will be easy to fix. You were a truly great antenna designer. Rest in peace, dear friend.
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