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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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WA6ZHE Rating: 5/5 Apr 29, 2015 16:12 Send this review to a friend
OK So Far  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
We just finished installing it on my cottage roof. Thank goodness I was not scared off by the poor reviews, post-MFJ takeover. It was missing a few screws/bolts which was resolved by a visit to Orchard Supply. But no critical parts were missing. The mounting plate I received was solid aluminum. All holes were correctly drilled. One mismatched item was that I received 16 radial rods! So I have some spares. SWR is fine according to my antenna analyzer. The worst is 2:1 on 40M CW. Many show 1.3, 1.2, etc. It replaced a B&W broadband. It's pretty early yet, but so far it receives at least as well as that B&W, and gets out better. The base is only about 15-16 feet off the ground on my cottage roof, but last night I worked some serious DX easily, so no complaints so far. We definitely went with 4 guys instead of the 3 provided in the optional guy kit, and we used parachute cord. It will have to have an annual inspection for the guys (actually, no matter what kind of cord is used), but I hope it continues to do all right. Won't know about trap leaks until the next rain.
So far so good.
K2VCO Rating: 3/5 Dec 20, 2014 12:41 Send this review to a friend
Not a bad antenna, but NOT usable at full legal power  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
This is a follow-up to my previous review of the R8, to warn fellow hams: Do not put more than 750W CW or 500W digital into this antenna -- and if you are using SSB, the 1500W rating only holds without speech compression.

Now, you are thinking, why didn't this doofus read the manual? Well, the manual was just recently updated with these power limits. The one I downloaded in December 2013 said the antenna was good for 1500W CW, as did the one that came in the box of the antenna I bought this March.

I learned the hard way that the new power limits should be respected when I blew (or melted -- I'll know when I take it down) a trap after operating for a few minutes with 1200W on 40M CW.

MFJ has said that they will send me a new trap under warranty, which is very nice of them. But I am not happy that the antenna was spec'ed incorrectly in the first place. I would not have purchased it if I had known that it could not handle at least 1200W CW.

I decided to reduce my rating because although the antenna is now documented correctly, the ads are still misleading and suggest that the antenna can be used at full legal power.
K2VCO Rating: 4/5 Oct 25, 2014 14:22 Send this review to a friend
Still a good antenna, but some issues  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I chose the R8 because I needed a radial-less antenna to go on top of a 10-story building, and the R8 got a good report in the N0AX and K7LXC vertical antenna comparison test. Of course that was in 2000, before Cushcraft was bought by MFJ. Itís still a good antenna, but there are some issues.

When I started to assemble the antenna I found that two holes were drilled in the wrong place. I was able to elongate one with a file, but the other had to be redrilled about ĹĒ away. I had to file the insides of the insulators for the stubs so the tubes would fit.

I was unhappy to see that the aluminum blocks formerly supplied to clamp the antenna to the mast have been replaced by stamped metal pieces. They are plated steel, not stainless like the rest of the hardware. Worst of all, they are large enough that the U-bolts are barely long enough. I had to squeeze the assembly with a large clamp to get the nuts and lockwashers on.

The other parts seemed to be of good quality. All tubes were of correct length. The matching box had an o-ring seal and fit together nicely, better than the one on my old R7. I opened the box after hearing horror stories about bad soldering, and everything seemed properly done. I noticed that the matching transformer used two cores as opposed to the single one in my R7.

The antenna is almost 29 feet tall, and so they strengthened it with double tubes in places. Supposedly it can withstand 80 mph winds without guying, but if you believe that I have a bridge for sale. I used two sets of four guys each on the antenna, and I am glad I did. It came through one pretty serious storm, and I am certain it would not have without the guys. There was no noticeable difference in SWR after the storm.

I measured everything at least twice, and most bands were fine. 40 meters needs a slight adjustment of the top stinger to put the resonant frequency where I want it, but I havenít wanted to take the antenna down. The one band which is not quite right is 20 meters Ė it resonates near the top of the phone band, which puts the SWR in the CW band above 2:1. This isnít a problem for me because my tube amplifier can easily work into it and my solid-state transceiver has a built-in tuner, but itís worth a mention. Since the 20 and 17 meter traps are in the same enclosure, adjusting 20 without messing up 17 might be a problem.

Iím saving the best part for last: at a height of about 120 or 130 feet, this antenna really kicks butt on all bands. I almost never turn on my amplifier and seem to be able to work everything I can hear, including breaking pileups right and left. I can honestly say that it compares favorably as a transmitting antenna to the KT34 triband beam at 45 feet that I used at my previous QTH.
G7ENQ Rating: 5/5 Jul 24, 2014 12:59 Send this review to a friend
I'm very pleased - an excellent antenna.  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This antenna was purchased as part of my re-entry into amateur radio after a twenty year absence. A lot had changed and now that I had access to HF, I made a good study of the available antennas. My city centre QTH meant a vertical, so this narrowed the search. Eventually I took the plunge and settled on a R8.

Lets be frank here - it seems clear that the MFJ takeover of Cushcraft resulted in some pretty cruddy reviews and reports. Whether these are valid or credible, I can only report on my own experiences. First, the assembly process went without hitch. All components were there, the instructions perfectly clear for someone who had never assembled a vertical. Second, after assembly and erection a problem was found in the Network Matching Box. Tom Stone at MFJ/Cushcraft had a replacement in my hands SEVEN DAYS LATER. Considering my QTH is Dublin, Ireland then that is outstanding customer service by any measurement.

The R8 works perfectly with my TS-590S with good reports from all over Europe. The only observation I'd make is that the R8 MUST BE GUYED. With a 28-feet length that is a further 10-20-feet above the ground, and with most of the weight in the two traps at the top, there is a lot of sway. I've seen a YouTube video of an un-guyed R8 in high winds going into self-destruct mode and it's not a pretty sight.

So, would I buy another? Yes.

AK4AT Rating: 0/5 Jun 24, 2014 00:46 Send this review to a friend
Good Design But Poor Quality After MFJ Took Over  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have to give this antenna the worst rating simply because manufacturing quality is awful now that MFJ owns Cushcraft, and there is absolutely no customer support. I've attempted to contact them several times using several methods, end even wrote a letter, and they would not reply at all.

The R8 is a brilliant design and used to be accurately manufactured from quality materials by Cushcraft. I got one of the post MFJ R8's and trouble began on the first day. Not all of the hardware was included, the clamps were poor quality, drilled holes were misaligned, and some of the tubes were not cut to the proper lengths. After it had been up a few days and rained on, SWR climbed to unusable levels. I found the traps were not properly sealed and wet inside, and the screws the factory assembled them with were too long and touching the windings, causing shorts at power levels above QRP.

If you have a R8 and are having trouble keeping the stubs tuned, or SWR climbs during transmitting, disassemble the traps, dry them out, reseal them, and snip the tips off of all of the assembly screws before reassembling. If the stubs don't allow you to adjust on some bands to begin with, check the lengths of the tubes against the specs on the parts list. At each joint, twist the tubes to see if the clamps are holding the joint tight. Moving the clamp to be flush with the top edge of the outer tube might help. I had to go buy all new high quality stainless clamps because the MFJ supplied clamps strip before they can tighten enough.

The 80mph wind rating is no longer true. There is a weak point where the lower stub base plate (rectangular 2-piece plate) attaches to the large diameter tube. Try to attach a 4 line set of Dacron guys near this point. Guying only higher or lower, or using only 3 lines is not sufficient. In strong wind from a direction between 2 of the guys, the upper part of the antenna will flex and force the lower portion to flex in the opposite direction causing it to under-buckle at this weak point. Check the tension on the guys frequently.

Don't bother trying to order replacement tubes from MFJ. You'll never receive them, and they are too expensive if you could. Buy lengths of tubing from DX Engineering instead, and take note that the tubes are doubled, one fitting inside the larger one.

I saw some remarks in the reviews about using ground radials. Ground radials are NOT necessary with this "ground independent" design, and will likely cause poor performance if attached. The short set of radials on this antenna are isolated from the antenna base, tower, etc. and are connected to the proper point in the network box to allow the design to work, and it works very well. The requirements (and problems) associated with using conventional vertical antennas do not apply to this design.

If there is a close lightning strike during a thunderstorm that causes some discharge through the antenna, damaging components in the network box, you'll need to replace the isolation cap and resistor. The specs are 100PF, 15KV, ceramic cap, and a 100K ,1W, 5%, film resistor. Check for melted paths on the board, and damage to the balun toroids as well. This board is not the same as the R7 and earlier R8 antennas used to have. It doesn't have the small diameter choke like the earlier models, and is configured a little differently. Likely it's yet another attempt to reduce manufacturing costs. Again, don't bother trying to order parts from MFJ. That's wasted effort.

If you are willing to properly re-manufacture one of these after receiving it from the factory to get it back to Cushcraft specs, and replace the poor quality hardware, there is not a better designed vertical on the market that I know of. It's too bad that MFJ ruined a good antenna by cutting costs on parts and hardware, sloppy manufacturing, no quality control, and no customer support. It shouldn't be necessary to rebuild a new antenna. For this, I can't give it a good rating.

I wouldn't judge a business on one bad experience because there could have been a legitimate reason for it, especially if they tried to make things right. However, in this case, there were multiple deficiencies, and absolutely no effort from them to make it right. Not even one single reply was received from them, like they just don't care at all.
K4EQ Rating: 5/5 Sep 28, 2013 12:53 Send this review to a friend
Very Fine Antenna  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Several years ago I had a Cushcraft R7 vertical and, during an 11-year period, I worked over 250 entities with it--all at 100 watts or less. So, upon my retirement two months ago and subsequent move to Missouri, I decided to put up the newer R8. My assumption was it would perform as good as or better than the R7. So far I have not been disappointed.

I was in the process of building a shack, a craft room for my wife, and a family room in the basement when the doctor said I needed total knee replacement surgery, which I had a couple of weeks ago. I decided to put a hold on the building project and get the R8 up so I could get on the air and have something to do during my recovery period. Up went the antenna and a small table in the bedroom. For simplicity I got out one of my many QRP rigs--an Elecraft K1. I've been having a blast ever since. The SWR on the R8 is acceptable on all bands and with just five watts I've been able to work just about anything I can hear. In not a lot of operating time in the past two weeks, I've worked around 20 countries and several states with a lot of nice QSOs. Being a long-time QRPer, this doesn't surprise me, but my point is the R8 does what it's supposed to do and enables me to work several bands with a single antenna. For what I want to do in retirement, this is perfect. By the way, my contacts have all been on either 40, 30, 20 or 17 meters.

If you're looking for a minimal-space, multi-band antenna that your neighbors are unlikely to object to and that works well, then the R8 may be just what you're looking for. So far, I couldn't be happier with it.

K3EY Rating: 5/5 Sep 5, 2013 08:00 Send this review to a friend
GREAT ANT!!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Here on eHAM 7 years ago I wrote a review on this antenna and it's still performing like the champ that it is, without fail and untouched in as many years fed with 9913. QRP or QRO doesn't matter it kicks butt. Couldn't be happier with this antenna.

K6BF Rating: 1/5 Sep 4, 2013 19:42 Send this review to a friend
Bad overall..  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I owned the R8 for three months and that's it i gave up burn the 30 meters coil cost 70 dollars including shipping takes three weeks to get it no more in stock waiting to be build from scratch down time.Specs (Calls it for 1.5kw )not even i just run 1K power PEP on 40 meters and almost burn again for the second time.

I think i do believe the tuning stubs create problems in the long run.The material is low grade as well if you don't use guy option chances is damaging the antenna in the wind.I switched to a different manufacturer it looks better and no more down time means more QSO's + DX and less manpower to install mounted at 12 feet of the ground by my self unlike the R8 and i need 2 more friends! That shows low grade is the material the used on the R8 sorry.

I cannot recommend this to anyone especially no source of help. I will give this antenna a low rating based solely on the quality of materials and workmanship which I would describe as substandard at best. I am in doubt that I would buy another antenna product from (MFJ) family after seeing this product.
KN6SU Rating: 5/5 Jul 16, 2013 21:22 Send this review to a friend
Great When It Works  Time owned: more than 12 months
I got the R-8 in 1998 and it's been mounted on a 5' section of galvanized pipe attached to the peak of my roof (25' up). I've had it down for maintenance 2 times since then, when for various reasons it developed very high un-tunable SWR (>25:1 on all bands per the MFJ analyzer). In both cases the problem was in the MN-8 matchbox. The MN-8 is a simple unit that contains two wound toroids and a blue disc cap. It makes electrical contacts with (A)the upper radiating section of the antenna, (B) the ground plane clamshell ring, and (C)the base. A & C are connected with aluminum brackets and B is connected via a wire flat braid. You'd think it should be bombproof, but it isn't. The brackets get oxidized and need routine cleaning. That can be done without opening the MN-8 box. However, I found I couldn't fix the problem and I opened up the box. The first time I did that I found the problem was poor soldering at the center coax connector and fixing it got another 3 years of good performance. When it crashed again, I opened the box, but couldn't see any obvious problems (on the "front" side of the board, so I removed the board from the box and, voila, found that one of the lower toroid wires had detached from the board! Easy to resolder. The other joints looked intact, but just to make sure I resoldered them as well. The R8 now works as well as it did in 1998.

As others have said, this is a multiband HF vertical, and such antennas represent compromises. My previous vertical was a Butternut HF-9 (used the 80m add-on kit and radials). I liked its being "trapless," but it was a very noisy antenna and required lots of real estate for the radials. I found that the R-8 worked just as well (and better) without the need for a radial system. Both required an ATU to get SWR down to 1:1. On 40 and 20, you can get 1.5:1 w/o an ATU, but you need to space the antenna segments where you plan to operate (either CW or SSB band segments)because the resonant bandwidth on 40 and 20 is fairly narrow. I set mine at the middle of the bands and use the ATU to get the best match that I need, since I operate both CW and phone. 20 and 17 seem to be difficult to independently tune mechanically (shared trap?), but an ATU works there when the R-8 is mechanically tuned to mid-band on 20.

Bottom line: I've had the R-8 for 15 years. When it works, it is a fine multiband vertical HF antenna that sets up over a very small footprint. I don't know about the MFJ version, which may use some less durable hardware parts according to some of the posters. All the hardware (clamps, bolts, etc.) that came on mine were SS. I don't know if MFJ has changed the aluminum Cushcraft used for the elements or the traps, but mine has stood up fairly well. Aluminum is what it is, and needs occasional cleaning. Last time I took the antenna apart I used Loctite C5-A copper based anti-seize compound between the elements, which seems to make a good electrical connection and protect from corrosion. I recommend it when you first assemble the antenna. Finally, the MN-8 is a potential source of serious problems, and you should always suspect it if you develop high SWR across the bands. The good news is that it is easy to repair.
AB6OJ Rating: 2/5 Jul 13, 2013 23:24 Send this review to a friend
material bads/electronic good  Time owned: more than 12 months
the design is excellent.
But the material is poor. After one season of wind, nuts of some parts is missing, two bolts of trap disapeared. It didn't happened druring 15 years of R7 before. Again Electronocally excellent, but mechanically they need a improve some more.
It says rugged design, and 80mph survival.
Yes Only design.
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