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Reviews Categories | Antennas: HF: Verticals; Wire; Loop | Cushcraft R-8 Help

Reviews Summary for Cushcraft R-8
Cushcraft R-8 Reviews: 110 Average rating: 4.0/5 MSRP: $450 to $480
Description: 40-6m omnidirectional vertical antenna
Product is in production.
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K0GZL Rating: 5/5 Dec 23, 2018 02:07 Send this review to a friend
The R8 is ok.  Time owned: more than 12 months
During my 62 years of Amateur Radio, I have found that vertical antennas are great for low takeoff angles to secure that elusive DX.

If you read the reviews on commercially made verticals and also beams, so many people complain that they don't work properly some of the time. I have never had any trouble with verticals or beams if I read the manual and follow the assembly instructions closely.

However, over the years, I have found that there are other things that can enhance the operation, reliability and longevity of any antenna that especially uses metal tubing such as Aluminum.

Remember this; Aluminum oxidation starts forming as soon as the tubing is manufactured and ... Aluminum oxide is an insulator. I would say that over 90 percent of antenna problems are due to mechanical and/or electrical bad connections.

Here's what I do when assembling an antenna right out of the box:

1. Get the electric drill out and install a large bit into the chuck.

2. Wrap a pad of fine steel wool around the bit and ream out the inside of the larger tubing into which another piece of tubing will slide and... also buff, with fine steel wool, the outside of the smaller tubing that will slide inside the larger.

3. This is important: Buy a tube of "CONDUCTIVE GREASE" at the hardware store; do not use dielectric grease. Grease up the inside and outside of the Aluminum tubes and other parts that are to be fit together; this will guarantee a good electrical connection for sure; no need to over-do-it on the grease, though !! Cleanup the excessive grease with alcohol.

4. One weak mechanical and electrical situation with the Cushcraft R8 and R9 verticals is that the ends of the trap coils are brought out and wrapped around small hex sheet metal screws to the trap cover; this is asking for a bad connection, oxidation and intermittent operation. Purchase some Aluminum flat washers and lock washers and use them to produce a solid contact but don't over tighten the screws; don't forget to steel wool the connection and use the conductive grease first !

5. Last but not least !!!!
Verticals have a tendency to get water inside the tubing and traps. The plastic, trap covers, often crack or split with age; water can ooze into where the tubing pieces slide together or where various screws run thru the tubing.
A sure fire cure for water problems is a product that I use, called "Through The Roof" made by a company called,Sashco. It is a clear rubbery liquid. You can paint brush it on all those connections that have been steel wolled {Sp.?} and greased and ... don't forget the plastic trap covers and misc.screws. It does not harden like epoxy, so you can pick or scrape it off if you need to adjust your antenna settings; Good stuff.

73s, Bob K0GZL
K6JMQ Rating: 4/5 Feb 18, 2018 12:33 Send this review to a friend
Worth the Money  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had my R8 in service for about 3 years. I'm on the SoCal coast where salt air is a problem. I'm also on a residential lot with no space for radials on the ground, I operate on phone, CW and digital modes on all 8 bands at 100W max. Assembly was easy. All the parts were there and fit correctly (with a little tweaking). The antenna is mounted on a 16ft 2" galvanized pipe attached to a the factory tilt base assembly. The tilt base is mounted to a 4ft section of galvanized pipe set in a 3.5 x 2ft concrete base. Because we have a strong sea breeze everyday I used the 3 point guy wire kit. The antenna has performed well on all bands and modes. 40M is very narrow so I tuned it to 7.175 and my AT2K handles the tuning elsewhere. I don't need (although I still use) a tuner on the other bands as the SWR is good (1.5 to 3.0) across the bands. Over-all I would say the antenna meets my expectations and performs well considering the limitations I have here in SoCal. I've worked 110 countries on it and all 50 states. I get very good signal reports from it. Yes its noisy on RX, but that was expected from a vertical. Upon initial installation, I placed the antenna too close to my house. The radials were less than 3ft from the roof. After testing, I found by relocating it so the radials were 8ft from the roof, the SWRs were much better. This might have been because there is a metallic material (granules) in the composition of my roof shingles. Over all I would say the R8 meets my expectations. I didn't give it a 5 as during the assembly, I had several questions for Cushcraft and I was surprised to find they didn't have the answers. This puzzled me as they have been producing this antenna for years. Would I recommend the R8? Yes, if you are dealing with space restrictions. If I were to do it over I would get the R9 and have 80M.
VK3YP Rating: 2/5 Feb 6, 2018 23:01 Send this review to a friend
Mechanically Poor  Time owned: more than 12 months
Assembled a MFJ manufactured R8. The tuning stubs needed double hose clamps or else they would slide apart when the R8 was moving in the wind. Guyed at two levels but the 40M trap went faulty after about 2 years due to the 'whipping' of the top trap element in the wind.
Performance was excellent on all the bands 40M to 6M with low SWR.
Haven't bothered to take down and repair/replace trap so might just junk the entire antenna instead.
VR2AJ Rating: 3/5 Jan 2, 2018 00:12 Send this review to a friend
Needs handle more-loading power   Time owned: more than 12 months
Whatís unwanted experience had been happened in last year, of course, talking about the lovely star of Cushcraft R8, I would to say that 2 trap coils have totally burned by the normal CW mode with my current liner amplifier (Tokyo Hy-power HL-1Kfx). I have tried to order those spare parts of trap coil (BT1 & BT2) from MFJ by 2 different times, but they have rejected my orders without reasons. Thatís fine forget it, Iím going to consider other brandís vertical antenna in the market, hopefully, coming back to the radio soon.
Donít put too much output power on this product, less than 500watts CW mode will getting safety.
KN6SU Rating: 5/5 May 5, 2017 19:05 Send this review to a friend
Bandwidth on 40  Time owned: more than 12 months
Follow up to last post:

Used the Rig Expert AA-230Z (new gadget...highly recommended) to reset the 40M tip element and set the SWR min at about 7.23MHz and got the 2:1 range from 7.150 to 7.290. The SWR graph is fairly symmetric but steep on 40, so if you want to use it w/o an ATU you really need to set the min SWR point carefully in the part of the band you want to do that. My MFJ-986 easily handles the slight mismatch below 7.150. 30, 20, and up are fine across each of those bands.

BTW, the AA230Z makes it super quick and easy to check and tune multiband antennas like the R8. Last time I used my MFJ did work but the Rig Expert analyzers, with their graphic and other features make this sort of work almost enjoyable.
VA6GC Rating: 1/5 Oct 3, 2016 15:40 Send this review to a friend
VERY POOR  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
After I got the missing pages of the instruction manual and replaced the missing parts I was very disappointed on the results of the R8 antenna.
has the results of my assembly. I had and R7 that was perfect! so the R8 should be at least good. I will be taking it down again in an attempt to tune it, after that I will modify it for bands I want 20/40/80. Yes I know it doesn't do 80... yet :(
K7JLF Rating: 5/5 May 6, 2016 11:30 Send this review to a friend
Previous Reviews  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned the R8 since 2007 and I love it. I have 150 countries confirmed on LOTW, most of which came from using the R8 and 100W. Another 1000 contacts in my logbook. My husband had put it together while I was at work in 2007, having no previous experience in HF antennas, he had no problems reading the manual and doing exactly like it said. He dug a hole and cemented a tilt over mount into it. The antenna is mounted on a 2" mast that is 14' high. We raised the R8 by me "walking up the antenna" from the ground and he would pulled on the guy lines from the roof. We have three guy lines on it. Our side yard is only 10 feet wide so two guys are tied to the chainlink fence in opposite directions. The other guyline is located on the other side of our mobile. 35' wide mobile with metal roof.
I had read every review on this antenna and the previous Cushcraft series in order to try to troubleshot high SWR across all the bands I had this past week. Some of the reviews were----don't put this antenna near any metal, our is, that wasn't our problem.
Let me start with March 2016, I noticed I was not making contacts as well as I thought I should be. Armed with a CAA500 analyzer I hooked up the coax to it and found that 20m 17m and 30m were very high. That lead us to lower this antenna that had been up there working like a charm for the past 8 years, with no maintenance. We finally figured out that the traps probably were bad. I emailed MFJ and they answered me immediately sending me the link to where I could order the traps. $100 and less than a week later we had the new traps. Since I had a stroke in Jan. and lost strength on my right side, my husband put another pole next to the mast and a pully, hooked it to the mast and now I crank while he walks the antenna up. We installed the traps, cleaned every connection, cleaned all parts with steel wool, reread the entire manual, made sure all measurements were still correct and raised it. The SWR was great on all bands! I was elated to be back on the air again!
Then came the three dust storms and high winds of two weeks ago. Suddenly my radio would not let me tune anymore........... I grabbed the analyzer and the SWR was sky high on all bands. Couldn't believe it. We lowered the antenna again, checked the coax, it was good. Hooked up a vertical on a tripod on the roof so I could at least do 20m while we tried to figure this one out. We assumed that it had to be the network box since the traps had just been replaced. We took it apart, looked at it really good. Tony even brought a meter home so he could cut off the capacitor and check it to see if it was good. Before he could do that and while he was at work I scoured the internet for any hint of something we didn't do or check. Armed with the manual and a page of hints printed out from some of the guys on Eham reviews, I went outside (107į AZ heat) stood there looking and reading and thought, "I told him when we lowered the antenna that the plastic holder on the antenna didn't lay on the ladder like it was when we had it down before." We prop the antenna on cut-off ladders when we lower it because the antenna is a couple of feet longer than our yard so the top rests on top of our chain link fence. The ladders hold the antenna in place so nothing gets bent. He just told me not to worry about it, it didn't matter.
But after reading one comment about #5-assemble metal clamps on to radiator, I noticed even the clamps were not like they were when we had raised this antenna before. When Tony got home that evening we went out there and I was showing him what I thought may be wrong with the antenna. I was thinking that the worm clamps had loosen and let the antenna turn some in the high winds and dust storms. He got new clamps, turned the bottom part and was aligning it like the manual showed and while he was doing that, I was holding the top part off of the fence railing so the top wouldn't hang up on the chainlink fence but the radials got caught and the top part wasn't turning and it should of been with him turning it at the bottom. The clamp was broke. After fixing those problems, then showed him the tips in the reviews and told him to cut the zip off the torrid's to see if the soldered connections were still good. He did and they were. Not wanting to pay $200 for a new network box, we decided to put everything back together and see what happened after all the little things we did. With the antenna laying there in the yard on the metal fence, I put the analyzer on the R8 (another reviewer said he did it like that) and the SWR was not too bad! They were not pegging the meter like before. We raised the antenna, checked it with the analyzer again and the highest swr was on 17m 1.9! All the rest were lower than that and we were very happy that the antenna was working once again. After hooking every up, bolting the mast in place and checking one more time with the analyzer, the SWR's were even lower! Within one minute of finishing SWR I turned on the radio and instantly made a contact with South Cook Island on 17m with a 58 RST. I am now a happy ham again.
I had did a lot of research on antenna's and was thinking about getting a different one but with having to go with a vertical and not wanting to dig up our ROCK yard to lay a lot of radials this R8 was everything I needed and the bands were the ones I wanted. I don't have 80m or 160 but since never working them and not caring if I do I am greatly satisfied with the R8. And as far as the comments on MFJ and parts not being available I don't understand where they are coming from. I emailed MFJ, they answered. I ordered parts for the R8 and they arrived within a week.
Just to add a word of thanks to the reviewers on the R8 that gave hints and tips for the antenna, thank you for helping me get back on the air. 73

KT6L Rating: 5/5 Apr 16, 2016 16:02 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding Antenna  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've used my R-8 for more than several years mounted on the roof of my house. On the West Coast I've worked all continents with it running less than 100 watts; in fact, I worked Japan, North Carolina, New Jersey and Florida with my Wilderness NORCAL 40-A QRP rig (less than 5 watts).

There were some aggravating problems with the original shipment such as several missing bolts and an incorrect flanged pipe near the apex. However, when I spoke to the gripe supervisor she had the correct parts delivered to my door the next day - I was impressed!

The assembly was straight forward and not complicated. I was able to erect the R-8 lashed to my chimney on the roof, with no help, and I'm not extra-ordinairally strong, just patient; it IS a challenge by yourself and I recommend a second person to help as it tends to wobble, but do-able solo.

It's such a pleasure to have QSOs with German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swiss, Norwegian and Coastal African stations with only 100 watts on 40 Meters at night using this practical, well designed, superbly engineered and over-built antenna.

The R-8 is very similar to the R-7 but the detuning stubs and improved traps eliminate many of the latter's problems such as changing SWR with increased moisture and rain. Very solid mechanical construction and RF performance. It bends with the wind - over 30 knots it looks pretty scary but still recovers and stands up straight.

The best vertical antenna I've ever used in terms of maintenance, erection, durability and performance.
K6YLG Rating: 4/5 Nov 18, 2015 09:56 Send this review to a friend
Excellent antenna but QC problems  Time owned: more than 12 months
I had an R-8 for years back in California and it worked great, head and shoulders ahead of the Diamond BB7V. I recently bought a new one to replace my DXEE, which it also outperforms. The only problem is MFJ QC, or lack thereof. First the groundplane radials were missing. Once they were replaced I discovered that the 20-meter trap was broken--clearly dropped before shipment. That was then replaced. In assembling the antenna I had to further drill out and/or file the plastic spacers, which needed to be cleaned up before they'd accept either the rods or screws. The antenna works great, but it took a lot longer to assemble than it should have due to shipping missing and/or damaged parts. MFJ was helpful and responsive, but it would be a lot more helpful if they'd respond the QC gripes that keep cropping up in eHam reviews.
KI8CS Rating: 1/5 Oct 15, 2015 08:06 Send this review to a friend
Don't Bother  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I setup my R-8 last week. Mediocre hardware at best. Assembled easily. No big surprises.

So I tested it. High SWR on all bands, >3. 40m was infinity. So far my support ticket has proven useless. Initially gave me advice on the wrong antenna. Haven't heard from them in a week. No plan on how to turn my $565 pile of tubing into an actual antenna.

Don't waste your money. If it works out of the box you're good. Otherwise you are on your own.
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