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Reviews Categories | Antennas: HF Mobile & Accessories | IronHorse Mini HF Sticks IHFM Help

Reviews Summary for IronHorse Mini HF Sticks IHFM
IronHorse Mini HF Sticks IHFM Reviews: 12 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $19.95
Description: Short Mini version of HF Sticks
Product is in production.
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VE3LNU Rating: 5/5 Sep 20, 2010 06:10 Send this review to a friend
Why use a monster HF mobile antenna?  Time owned: more than 12 months
As my intro suggests, I firmly believe there is no good reason for any ham to use any HF mobile antenna longer than 3 or 4 feet, which is the average length of the min-hamsticks!

During the previous solar cycle, my minivan was a real spectacle with an 8-foot full-lenth hamstick on the roof! Last year I installed an IC 706 in my Toyonta 4Runner, along with an LDG automatic antenna tuner. I wanted my HF mobile antenna to have a good ground and, based on what I had read online including compelling write-ups by K0BG, I did not consider a bumper mount to be effective. On a visit to Durham Radio, one of my local ham retailers, I discovered these short hamsticks and wondered how they would work if placed in the centre of the roof. I use a triple-magnet mount and it is more than strong enough for these short, light antennas.

The truck looks a whole lot better without an 8-foot "Eiffel Tower" on the roof, but how do the minis work?

How about calling CQ on 40 metres and getting an answer from England with a 59 report? How about the same from Italy? How about working into Europe several times a week on 20 metres (even with the current very low solar flux) and consistently getting reports between 55 and 59?

Forget about the monster mobile antennas unless you are paranoid about the extra 0.5 S-unit you might get with a larger antenna. :) Just make sure these antennas are in the centre of the roof or rear deck and you're off to the races.

I own one of these mini-hamsticks for every band - they are the ideal solution for me. The ONLY disadvantage I see is the need to swap antennas for band changes - to make this easier I bought a few quick disconnects.

WA6MOW Rating: 5/5 Feb 15, 2009 12:40 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: more than 12 months
I love the size of these antennas. I use mine mobile in motion, mounted on the roof rack of my Suburban. I get great reports even with 80 meter mini stick, which should be very inefficient for its small size. I think that because they are mounted 7 feet above the ground, they are far more efficient. For the money, live on the edge and give them a try!!
WI7B Rating: 5/5 Jul 5, 2006 20:11 Send this review to a friend
Way good for their size  Time owned: more than 12 months

Yes, they're not efficient. Yes, they need a good ground plane. Yes, you'd be better off with a massive screwdriver antenna, 600W solid state amplifier, extra storage battery, blah, blah, blah...

But, a 36" long 20 meter antenna that can work Japan while US mobile with a 100 watt rig plugged into your cigarette lighter is not to be sneezed at!

I wanted a small, removable HF antenna. With a simple mag mount and the 20m Iron Horse mini-HF I have worked both north and west of Tokyo while mobile on I-90 in Eastern Washington just this month. One QSO lasted 15 minutes with a 55-57 report from Haru-san, JA1CG. It's not always that way, but I've never been disapoointed in ANY QSO I've had on 20m mobile. Get one, if you can get one!


---* Ken
N5DUX Rating: 5/5 Feb 28, 2006 19:44 Send this review to a friend
Great little SHARKs  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I figured I'd wait a while before posting a review (I just got the 20m antenna installed yesterday), but I had to put in a good word for these little sticks. I'm sure you're well aware you'll probably get better performance from a larger antenna, and like the earlier post - I wasn't expecting much.

Sure, some of these guys worked all over the States with their antennas, but how long did they try and try before they finally snagged that DX call? I'm a skeptic and figured these amazing reports came from months of trying and rarely making DX. Here, on my second day, I have made contacts with the Bahamas (IOTC), Costa Rica, Argentina, Canada, all around the nation - all on 20m. Sure, most any dipole can get you out to these stations, but for a 40" stick I'm amazed.

As was stated by others, I wanted low profile on my vehicle as well. I drive a small Nissan Sentra and, frankly, a screwdriver or anything else would look silly. I mounted my 20m mini on the trunk along side my 6/2/440 tribander - and the 20m is actually shorter! It performs amazingly well both for its size and price. If you need a stealth antenna for home, and a hamstick won't do, try a mini. I only "roughly" tuned the whip length using my display's SWR graph, and let my tuner do the rest. The antenna won't give you the best performance of any mobile, but most buyers are well-aware that they're sacrificing performance for size.
To be honest I don't get a 59 report every time, usually it was between a 55 and 57, but several US stations gave me 59s. I've already ordered the 40m mini - should be able to post a follow up review when I get it.

Equip. used: FT-897, LDG autotuner, FireStik trunk lip mount.
K6FYY Rating: 5/5 May 2, 2005 21:48 Send this review to a friend
They're now SHARK whips  Time owned: more than 12 months
Apparently, Iron Horse is no longer making these. sells the same whips as the SHARK mini HF whips.

I continue to use the Iron Horse whips portable, mobile and as stealth antennas. Small and good.
K6FYY Rating: 5/5 May 17, 2004 13:29 Send this review to a friend
Great antenna value!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I'm constantly amazed with how well these teeny antennas get out. I have the whole set, including whips for 6 and 17 meters.

I always use a Z-100 transmatch to keep my FT-857 happy. The key is a good solid ground. I use 1/2" braided strap from the trunk-lip mount to the car body. Plus, the low profile of the antenna attracts far less attention than the full size 7-foot whips.

I've even used the Iron Horse 40meter stick at home, tripod mounted, with the metal lattuce work of my terrace as a counterpoise.

An observation: Using the 17 meter whip, I'm able to QSY to 20meters-- after retuning the Z-100. Of course, nothing replaces a tuned antenna.

At $20 or so a pop, you really can't beat 'em.

N8XE Rating: 5/5 Apr 26, 2004 14:58 Send this review to a friend
Great low profile antennas at a great price  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just bought a new Saturn Ion Coup and wanted something low profile for HF. I read the reviews here and I thought for 20.00 per antenna, it would be hard to go wrong if it does not work out. So I went ahead and bought the 40, 20, 17, and 6 meter antennas.

I installed the antenna mount on the trunk lip and grounded the antenna using a ground wire to the trunk. I first noticed that the SWR at resonance was 2:1 on all of the antennas. I would adjust them and it would not make a difference. It would only dip to 2:1. So I still ran with it to see what I could do.

I attempted to check into a net on 40 and it did not do very well. The guy said I was in there, but underneath the noise. He stated that he was operating with an S9+ noise level in Florida. I got a 47 signal report. But hey, that's ok...

On 17 meters, I got an 59 from a guy in AZ and another one from the Virgin Islands. I noticed that my 20 meter antenna stopped working. I think I bent it or something where something got disconnected in the antenna itself. I could have returned it, but I clipped a little off of the adjustable element while tuning so it was trash (I have wasted way more than 20.00 before :) So I purchased another one and it works fine.

Then a couple of days ago, I talked to a guy on 20 Meters in Louisiana and I was peaking at 10 over 9! So I have been able to get out on these things... Granted, it is not my Hexbeam at the home QTH, but it sure is fun to work guys outside of 2M while mobile! Oh yea, and it is great to listen to CW QSOs while mobile to prepare me for doing CW Mobile someday!!

Back to the 2:1 problem. I did some research and I read some articles from about making a unun to get the antenna back down to a better SWR so the transmitter is happy. So I decided to build one and hooked it up. Well, now the antennas are down to about a 1.3 to 1 which makes the transmitter happy (except for 40 meters.. it is still at the 2:1 mark)

So anyways, these antennas are not doing bad for being "dummy loads on a stick". For the money I invested in the antenna system, I think I did pretty good.

Jason Hissong
VA3KS Rating: 5/5 Mar 24, 2004 12:48 Send this review to a friend
Wow!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Ok, when I saw this little whip for 40m I almost laughed! How well could this tiny antenna work, but it was only $29 CDN, so I decided to give it a try. I mounted it on the roof rack of my New Beetle and tried in with my FT-857. WOW! this is a great little antenna. I had no problem making contacts and checked into ECARS many times with no difficulty. I am so impressed, I am going to purchase the full set.
NN1F Rating: 5/5 Mar 21, 2004 19:59 Send this review to a friend
Better than expected  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Have the 20 and 40 meter Mini antennas and am using a Lakeview License Plate mount on my Volvo station wagon. The hardest part of this setup was trying to find a good ground for the antenna. Finally found one by connecting to the ground of the license plate light. Tuned these antennas up using my MFJ 259b and got them set for CW part of the band. The analyzer says it is at 1.4-1.7:1. Went out to the airport today to find a nice high spot to try the antennas out. Got on 40 meters with my KX1 QRP radio, which has a built in antenna tuner. The radio says it was at 1.2:1 Found out the there was a VA QSO party going on. My first contact was with K4EU in Culpeper, VA (from Manchester, NH.) Made several other contacts then tried the 20 meter antenna. this one tuned down to 1.1:1 with the antenna tuner. Only had time for two contacts (one was a OM2. I Like the size of these antennas as they fit in my garage without having to take them off the car every time I come home. Took me about 45 minutes to originally tune the antennas when installing them on the car. I think I will be picking up a few more bands. I am pleased with these, knowing that they are not as good as the full sized antennas.
Bedford, NH
W2DI Rating: 5/5 Jul 14, 2003 22:00 Send this review to a friend
Must Agree -- They Work  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased the package set of these 80, 40, 20, 15 & 10m. The very low-profile look is what I wanted. First, I tried to use them with a mag-mount. 40 and 15 tuned easily, but the other bands were trouble (with an SWR analizer). Using a trunk-lip mount, with a short ground connection to the car's metal, worked great. Everything tuned to a near 1:1 match. I was even able to use the 15m stick on 17m by substituting a longer stinger. I must mention that I use an MFJ capacitor box to get the swr as low as possible with all my mobile antenna set-ups. This way, you get the widest usable bandwidth without needing a tuner.
I've used hamsticks, Hustlers, Diamond multibander and Outbaker antennas on the mobile. The usable bandwidth of the Mini Sticks, in comparison to these, seems comparable. I expected it to be less. The performance also seems to be comparable, although I certainly cannot offer any quantative proof -- just my humble opinion. At the very least, these antennas are NOT noticably inferior to the ones I have used in the past. I'm sure a screwdriver or 10' bug-catcher would do better but they are not low profile. I prefer attaching the antenna to the car rather than the car to the antenna.
And, I've been using these antennas with an FT-817 (I'm glutten for punishment you say?)at 5 watts! Made plenty of q's and can ususlly work them if I hear them.
Anyway, just my experience with these mini-antennas. For the price, I feel they do a great job. Thanks, 73
Joe -- W2DI
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