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Reviews Categories | Antennas: HF Mobile & Accessories | Hi-Q-6/160 EX (Submarine Antenna) Help

Reviews Summary for Hi-Q-6/160 EX (Submarine Antenna)
Hi-Q-6/160 EX (Submarine Antenna) Reviews: 1 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $1,900
Description: The NEW Hi-Q SEA and SUB EXTREME SHORT antennas employ a new technology
that allows the ELECTRICAL length of the antenna to be nearly DOUBLE -- as if it
was just a vertical radiator.
Product is not in production.
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You can write your own review of the Hi-Q-6/160 EX (Submarine Antenna).

W2RI Rating: 5/5 Apr 10, 2010 09:53 Send this review to a friend
If it's good enough for the US Navy, it's good enough for me !  Time owned: more than 12 months
I believe that this is the best mobile antenna you can buy. Period.

I should state at the outset that this antenna is big ! It's 50 inches tall, and 6 inches in diameter, and that's before you attach a whip. So, it may not be for everyone. But then, it was originally designed for the U.S. Virginia-class submarines, where its size is less incongruous than it would be on a Smart Car, and yet on 160M for example, its relative radiated power is -9.6dBi, compared with the -43dBi of the 24 foot tall antenna it replaced.

It's appearance is a joy to behold, with its precision manufacturing a testament to Charlie's background as a senior executive in McDonnell Douglas, Boeing (President, Boeing Aerospace Hungary) and Gulfstream Aerospace, (VP marketing). Hi-Q antennas are no rinky-dink contraptions, but rather military quality equipment. This thing stands out, and I receive many inquiring glances and questions from passers-by. My standard answer is that it is a missile launcher !

In fact, Charlie's antennas are very probably the only ham antennas used on land, sea and in space - his clients include U.S. Special Forces and the US Navy, and also NASA, who plan to use his antennas to transmit from an asteroid ! Recently, there has been some laughable claims that Hamsticks, for example, can outperform Hi-Q antennas. People making those claims are delusional, although one must remember that no antenna will radiate efficiently unless it is installed properly, and tuned appropriately.

For years Hi-Q antennas were described on one well-known mobile installation website as being the antennas of choice until the author chose to eliminate all references to them, in an action that evokes the airbrushing of photographs of Clementis or Yezhov. It makes one wonder how unbiased the advice on that site is, and highlights the value of real user reviews on sites such as eHam.

I have effectively gone through two iterations of this 6/160 EX antenna. I purchased the prototype in early 2009, after many helpful discussions with Charlie, W6HIQ. Once I got over my shock at seeing it up close, and marveling at how big it actually is, I installed it in my Dodge Ram 2500, and connected it to an Icom-7000 and an SGC Powercube amplifier. I spent some time bonding the doors, exhaust, hood, etc., to ensure as effective a ground plane as possible, and used plenty of ferrites. Then I set off for a trip on a trip over one of the most notorious roads in North America, the Trans-Labrador Highway. In just over two weeks I drove almost 5,000 miles, from New York to Goose Bay in Labrador, continuing through Newfoundland. About 600 miles of the TLH was gravel, but Charlie's antenna was so well constructed that it fared perfectly. I received signal reports that were consistently "amazing", "fantastic" and "incredible" - this despite the poor propagation and the fact that the amp wasn't working.

Upon my return home, the antenna was still working flawlessly, although I had realized that the BetterRF tune/screwdriver control was just not up to the task of automatically tuning this antenna. Time after time it would fail to find a match, and send the plunger to the home position before reversing direction, while keeping the transmitter keyed up. I decided to ask Charlie to modify the prototype, by retrofitting reed switches - which while standard in his antennas, had not been required in the prototype for use in submarines.

When I received it back from Charlie, it was like a brand new antenna. He had not just installed new wiring, but also re-coated the two resonant chambers that sit above and below the coil. It hardly bears mentioning that the customer service from Charlie at Hi-Q is unsurpassed.

I remounted the antenna in the truck, and replaced the BetterRF boxes with a manual controller that Charlie supplied, which uses a turns counter to indicate the position of the plunger. I found that a far more effective means of tuning the antenna for various bands. I also reinstalled my repaired SGC amp, and started having fun all over again.

With pretty much every mobile antenna, some matching is required for the low bands (80M and 160M). You can use a shunt coil, at the base of the antenna, or a capacitance box (such as those supplied by MFJ). Charlie recommends the latter and I found, that while both work, following his suggestion gives you more precise control over the matching, with the advantage being that the box can be at your fingertips

With just a short whip, this antenna provides outstanding performance on the higher bands. On 15M through 20M, for example, the reports are extraordinary and, as I usually announce "/mobile", I often bust pile-ups. Just last night (4/9/10), for example, in lousy conditions, I received signal reports of 15 over 9 from Colombia. (Okay, so I cheated and used 500 watts!). Even running barefoot the general response from DX stations is incredulity that I am mobile.

Performance on the lower bands, too, is fantastic, particularly with the addition of a cap-hat and a long whip, with one old-timer on 160M telling me last night that I was "the longest mobile DX he had ever worked". Tuning is a breeze with the manual controller - I also keep an MFJ analyzer in the truck to aid in tuning if I change the whip or cap-hat configuration. On 20M, for example, the SWR is well below 2 for the entire amateur allocation without adjusting the antenna. On the lower bands, of course, especially 160M, moving to different areas of the band requires adjusting the plunger up or down.

I'll post an update to this review in the future, as conditions improve. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy sitting in my truck and using this amazing device. The only way I can be persuaded to give it up is if I buy the next generation from Charlie, maybe one with a stepper motor.

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