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Reviews Categories | Antennas: HF Mobile & Accessories | MFJ-1624 Mini-Bugcatcher Help

Reviews Summary for MFJ-1624 Mini-Bugcatcher
MFJ-1624 Mini-Bugcatcher Reviews: 5 Average rating: 2.2/5 MSRP: $79.95
Description: This highly efficient base-loaded 5 1/2' bugcatcher covers 40 thru 6 Meters -- use a simple truck lip, mirror, luggage mount or tri-mag mount!

Become an 'HF Mobileer' almost instantly with almost no effort! Have tons of fun rag-chewing and DXing on the HF bands. Turn boring drives into fun-filled ham adventures.

It only takes minutes to attach a trunk lip mount (like the MFJ-347), mirror or luggage mount (like the MFJ-342), or tri-magnet mount (like the MFJ-338T) and screw in your MFJ-1624 mini bugcatcher HF mobile antenna!

Throw your rig into the car, plug it in the cigarette lighter and turn the power down to 20 Watts or so (to avoud overloading your cigarette lighter -- the MFJ-1624 handles 300 Watts PEP). Operate your HF mobile and enjoy DXing!

The MFJ-1624 bugcatcher design uses large highly-efficient air-wound inductor -- far out performs other compact HF antennas. Exclusive built-in inductive matching network keeps SWR low. 5 1/2 foot whip collapses to 2 1/2 feet for easy storage and garages. Base loaded for minimum wind load and stress. Change bands by moving the 'wander lead'. 3/8 by 24 inch mount.

Product is in production.
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M0JHA Rating: 2/5 Jun 28, 2007 01:41 Send this review to a friend
not great  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
as stated this antenna needs playing with.. out the box you dont get enough clips for the tapping points( only 3 supplied) and one is used for earthing.

the whip is around 4.5 foot which i found gave me trouble trying to find the resonant point for 40m on the coil..
other bands 20 and up were ok..

i replaced the whip with an old pro am whip i had lying around ,stripped the wire off and replaced this with around 4 foot of wire helically wound terminating in the 4 foot steel whip section..

resonates ok now may try for 80 as there is now plenty of coil left..

tested last night at a local high spot. qrp from the 817 on 40m was a bit hard, maybe conditions.. 20m was a breeze working into europe with promising reports..

anyway if your after an ariel you can take straight out the box and use on all bands maybe there are better options.. if you dont mind a bit of messing around then maybe this could work for you..
KD5SHR Rating: 2/5 Feb 26, 2007 07:38 Send this review to a friend
needs a tuner and mods  Time owned: more than 12 months
This antenna needs modifications IMO. The tapping system is poor at best. The clips supplied are not that secure and short to the windings next to them (and there isnít enough of them), or it comes close enough that tape is needed to prevent shorting. This is supposed to be a mobile antenna, so with winds and vibrations they move and short. The antenna is very difficult to tune even with a tuner. Here are my mods; I soldered a zip strip @ .1 centers across the coil to allow a tap at each winding. I then soldered a contact on both taps. This allows for an easy change of tap location and itís 100% more secure. I got SWRís on all bands less then 1.6. I also found one tap location for 20M, 40M and even 2M. 10 down, SWR tap is 6 UP. I also soldered a banana lug to the ground for a quick ground radial setup for a portable/balcony antenna. I finally got this antenna to work easily with changing bands with quick easy and consistent SWRís. 5W to VA7ANTA Ė 55 on 17M, and to NC 59 at peaks on 20M, qth is ALB, NM.
This antenna needs modifications; IMO, so if you donít want to take time to do that and you donít have time to fuss with SWR searching and want quick band switching, I donít recommend it at allÖ 0/5, but if you do have time to play it seems to be worth it for a small mobile and or a portable type setup. I would give that a 3.5/5, 73ís Mike KD5SHR
N1QKH Rating: 3/5 Nov 11, 2005 07:31 Send this review to a friend
A low cost way to try out mobile HF  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have installed this antenna, using a trunk-lip mount on an Olds Ceirra. Later on, I moved it to a Toyota Camry. The wind would create a "bobble-head" effect and distort the trunk lip on the Toyota. Now, I have put a trailer hitch on the Toyota and the antenna is mounted on a 30" length of 3/4" pipe. Also, I have added a quick-disconnect so, I can go though car-washes and parking garages. It was easier for me to get a good ground on a trailer hitch than on a trunk lip mount. I have a solid bare-metal to bare metal contact to the frame of the car. If you have have problems with this antenna, check out the ground before you do any thing else. I would not put this antenna on a mag mount. If it ever got loose from wind it could be a big problem. Getting a good ground could be a problem too.

The antenna only comes with 3 taps. It takes two taps to cover 40 meters so that, you can only have one additional frequency. I ordered additional taps and I can do 6, 10, 12, 15, 20 and 40 meters. It is much more convenient to move a jumper than it is to unscrew and reposition a tap. It is a big advantage to be able to do 6 bands. The extra taps add extra capacitive reactance and make the tuning more tricky. I strongly recommend using an antenna analyzer even if you choose not to add additional taps. I put a little bit of electrical tape on the turns, adjacent to the taps. If a tap shorts out (to the next coil turn), the tuning shifts by a few kilohertz but, nothing bad happens. Adding more taps makes the trick with the tape more important.

I have compared this antenna to an 80 meter dipole at 65 feet. In general, the mobile antenna is two "S-Units" less signal than the dipole. So, I can work Europe from Vermont if the incoming signal is S8 or S9, using an ICOM-706. I think, it is more meaningful to compare this antenna with a dipole than to just say: "I worked Bulgaria or Italy". In general, I would say performance is similar to a ham-stick but, it would be a problem to store 4 or 5 ham-sticks in a small car.

This antenna uses the bottom 2-3 turns as a shunt-fed impedance matching device. This works well, once the correct tap position has been found. Here is where the antenna analyzer is handy. It can gave you a clue if you need to move the impedance tap or the coil tap to get the antenna to look more resistive and less reactive. Both taps change SWR so, going by the reading on the transeiver is not much help. Also, I would put all of the taps in place so, their capacitance is present and then adjust 40 meters, first. Don't be too surprized if you have to readjust 40 meters after adjusting all of the other taps. The jumper lead adds or subtracts inductance as it is wound around the coil. This effect can be minimized by loosening the bolt at the bottom of the coil and positioning the jumper lead between the two 40 meter (most sensitive) taps. This is much less of a problem on 20 meters etc. In short, this antenna tunes up like all other bug-catchers.

I have found that, snow and ice can coat the coil and have little effect, other than to raise the SWR, slighly. If SWR had been 1.6, clean and dry, it might go to 2.2 with a thick layer of ice. However, road salt can raise the SWR after some months of accumulation. Using the quick disconnect, I take off the antenna an wash it in a bucket of dish detergent and fresh water. I am careful to rinse it in several changes of fresh water. So far, this procedure seems to have little or no effect on tuning.

I have had a lot of fun with this antenna but, any bugcatcher is best for someone who likes to tinker around. A person who likes to take something out of the box and have it on the air in 5 minutes would be better off to use a hamstick or some other monoband antenna. Either choice would give an inexpensive way to try out mobile HF without spending a lot of money. This antenna tolerates the winter weather conditions, here in Vermont very well and has survived multiple hits from tree branches with litte or no damage.

KD0MB Rating: 0/5 Feb 21, 2005 13:51 Send this review to a friend
A challange to tune  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Without a friends MFJ analyzer it would have taken days to tune this antenna. For $80.00 you don't get much, better go to an other model and hope for good results. The motorized screwdriver is a much better antenna. I bit the $$$'s and bought the ATAS-120 for my FT-857D.... Love it!
I would not recommend the MFJ-1624 to friends or any ham.
N9AJA Rating: 4/5 Jun 13, 2002 11:28 Send this review to a friend
An inexpensive way to get into HF mobile operation  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
While at the 2002 Dayton Hamvention I walked around with my elmer, WB9JXE, who was looking at various mobile HF antennas to replace his Comet UHV-6 multi-band vertical (which uses separate coils for each band). For HF there are whips with manual tuners or coils, whips with automatic tuners, screwdriver-type automatic tuners, etc. There are lots of flavors of HF antennas!

After upgrading to General class at the Hamvention, I decided to give my new privileges a try. I did some research and decided on a bugcatcher. There's the Texas Bugcatcher, the Carolina Bugcatcher and home-brew bugcatchers (good article about a bugcatcher revival in a 1980 QST). Though MFJ is not the first name in antennas, I decided to go with their mini-bugcatcher.

MFJ's antenna is a good value for $79.95. It's a sturdy antenna, and I like the fact that it's a 3/8 24 mount, and it mounts directly below the tuning coil (no mast below the coil as in the Texas and Carolina versions). I have the antenna mounted to a Hustler rear-hatch/trunk-lip far so good. I like the coil being at the base of the antenna rather than halfway up the antenna (as in a mast)--it feels more stable on top of the car. The whip telescopes from about 2' to 5Ĺ'.

Critique: the ground strap and ground wires are flimsy, and you will probably want to use a larger round lug to ground to the body of your vehicle. The alligator clip used to connect to the coil wire seems like it could blow off in the wind but hasn't so takes a little bit of mite to adequately clip to the coil, but spots previously used allow the next clip-to to be easier. Eventually these spots become the standard spots you use to switch bands.

I put a quick-disconnect on the antenna and lug-type disconnect on the antenna ground wire to allow for removal before putting the car in the garage (or for parking garages or car washes).

If you'd like to get into mobile HF (it's a lot of fun), this is an economical way. A screwdriver for $350-$400 means you don't have to pull over and adjust an alligator clip on a coil, but it's also a big & heavy antenna that's a permanent mount. Try a bugcatcher or even a hamstick first.

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