|7 years and many expeditions
||Time Owned: more than 12 months.
|After reading some of the reviews below I decided it was time to add some content to this fine review site.|
Like John I am no wizard when it comes to building or setting up stuff. And like John I also find that I do not have the slightest problem to use the folding hexbeam. The first few times you have to find your way and especially the first time it might look daunting - as a folded hexbeam looks like a lot of tangled wire. But trust me, you will get the hang of it. I can confirm the 10 minutes (or even less) stated below.
Note that this hexbeam is a FOLDING antenna. That means it is not as rigid as some of the "base antennas" sold by other manufacturers. I have used it in high winds without problems but if you are looking for a hexbeam to put up for a longer period of time in a fixed location, then this might not be your best option.
It is sold as a kit and as its construction is slightly more complex than a non-folding antenna, so you might have to invest a little more time. I wrote about my experiences building this antenna on my blog (ph0no.net). With the absolutely meticulous manual I managed to put it together without any mistakes while I normally tend to race things and then have to go back and fix what I did.
What then is the benefit of this FOLDING antenna? Well.. the name sort of gives it away: it folds and unfolds - with ease, going from a small carrying bag into a 2 element 5 or 6 band beam in no time.. and back again into the bag.
This means that with this design you now have a hexbeam for (shorter) portable operations available.
For the past 7 years (6,5 to be completely honest) I have used this antenna on numerous portable occasions lasting 2h to days - parks activities, castle activities, SES, contests and multi-day dxpeditions - with nothing but joy.
The antenna takes a bit more time to set up than an end fed wire on a fiberglass pole but only a bit more. The flip side is that I can work more DX which I consider an important advantage on many of my /P activities.
If you are looking for a multiband beam in a bag - this is it. For your next SOTA operation it might be a bit heavy (especially as it requires a heftier mast) but otherwise I can recommend it for any /P operation where you want to be able to quickly deploy a beam.
Again, this is a FOLDING antenna - designed and especially useful when you use it as such.
On my blog you will find some usage tips and a lot of posts about my experiences of the hexbeam in the field. Just go to ph0no.net and look for the tips section on the left.
Note that apart from being a satisfied user I have no links to the manufacturer / seller / product.
73, Lars / PH0NO
|5 year review
||Time Owned: more than 12 months.
|Five year review |
I’m no rocket scientist plus I’m old and grey.
Honestly, the folding HexBeam takes me (just me) about 10 minutes to unfold and when done about 10 minutes to fold back up into its little transportation bag. I read the instructions and watched the YouTube video and have had no issues with un-folding and folding the thing back up. One tip: when you fold it up be thinking where the wires will end up when you unfold it – like coiling a garden hose or piece of rope.
Compared to a vertical or dipole this thing has much, much better gain and directionality plus I can work on 6 bands with one feed point -- 6m thru 20m.
I would not use this antenna during Minnesota ice storms but for most other areas and seasons it’s just fine. It is great for portable use and in many places in the world could be installed as a fulltime antenna.
In high winds the spreaders just sort of flex to dissipate the wind energy like a palm tree.
If you are thinking about installing it as a full time antenna and you live in a windy area just order the high wind brackets. There is also a way to order the antenna with parts for a full time installation.
Because it only weighs 13 Lbs. it is easy to erect with a simple push pole. I’m always surprised at how huge the folding HexBeam looks at ground level and how much smaller looks at 30’.
After five years I still love the antenna and even bought a second one. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of these antennas being used successfully all over the world. Many of the Yagi’s are installed permanently and others are used for Field Day and portable use.
73, John NA6L
|Temporary Use Perhaps
||Time Owned: more than 12 months.
|After purchasing four of these units for use in Emergency Communications within Texas USA we assembled only a single unit. It has been up and installed at my QTH for approximately one year but took almost three months to assemble. We found the instruction documents horrendous, required frequent flipping back and forth and determining which parts in the instructions actually applied to the antenna we had. We had the 5-Band version with the 6M add on. We also had the large clamp on ferrite, guy ring for 30mm mast, and the storm brackets.|
The instruction say it will take approximately 6-8 hours to assemble, we discovered after folding once it took about six hours to unfold the thing and get it ready to reinstall.
Several parts were missing which took an extended amount of time to have replaced, the instructions said to cut to a specific length, then said to add extra, then there was a slip of paper that said to add additional amount. We ended up cutting every band almost 12 inches long on each end. Let me say this thing is one massively floppy antenna. It is not like the traditional hex beams where the radial struts bend upwards, the whole thing lays kinda flat.
To begin the process of tuning this antenna it was initially setup just five feet off the ground, I had no way to put it up and down to adjust at the recommended height of 30 feet. At six feet off the ground the RigExperts analyzer said I had a 1.2:1 SWR as the worst and this is all with the extra 12 inches of wire on each band. I then hooked it up to my radio and proceeded to make contacts all around. Droopy wires and struts included. It did work but really did not have much front-to-back. In fact I couldn't tell a difference no matter which direction it was pointing.
After putting it up 20 feet off the ground I discovered it still had a very low SWR only changing to 1.3:1 on the lowest band. I at first thought it was poor coax, replaced with a higher grade LMR-400 Ultraflex and still had exactly the same results. I never trimmed a single wire or adjusted the tensioners. Then the troubles began.
Every single radial spreader was turning into a giant "S" shape, wires were getting flung around and twisted with one another, the element spacers were sliding on the radial spreaders, and the whole thing was looking like a ratted tattered clothes rack that grandma probably had in the backyard. It made my neighbor start complaining and ultimately I agreed it was terrible looking not to mention a pain to get up and down from a push up pole.
I am extremely dissapointed, I was very interested in a hex beam and although this thing functioned, the instructions, construction, and overall appearance made this a worthless purchase. I would not purchase this product again nor could I recommend purchasing anymore. We will probably assemble the remaining three units for the emergency communications and expect them to be one or two time use antennas. Very dissapointed.
|VG portable beam
||Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
|It more for field operation, work FB|
all bands SWR 1:1
Support EXCELENT, had problem with strong wind and lost 2-3 elements , Christian - FREE exchange all.
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|During summer 2013 i owned a folding hex for just 7 or 8 days, and send it back to Christian because i found it a disaster. One positive thing, i got my money back. |
This folding antenna is no match compared to the other SP7IDX and G3TXQ hexbeams.
Folding antenna : No mechanic stability, difficult to assemble, takes to much time to assemble and disassemle (compared to the sp7idx or g3txq), no staight poles, wires are not tight, clamps do not stay on their place or shifting over the poles during assembly and heavy winds, no good swr, when it is a bit windy even worse. Shure not storm resistant.
Swr was good in some parts of the band, but most of the times my expert liniar 1K-FA was in protect mode because of bad swr in cw part of almost all bands (exept 17 and 12M).
the sp7idx g3txq and is more reliable than the foldingantenna. I could not afford to go on dxpedition with a mechanical onstabile antenna.
I sent it back to Christian and got my money back.
|Excellent hex beam for temporary use for HOA challenged hams.
||Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
|I agree with NA6L's comments. I found this to be an excellent "backyard" temporary antenna that I could erect reasonably quickly for a weekend contest or to snag the occasional rare DX-pedition. I'm one of the many hams who live in an HOA challenged community. So far, my neighbors have been quite understanding of an occasional discrete antenna unobtrusively erected in the backyard. (Much lower profile than an neighbor's motorhome which is allowed for 72 hours on the street out front.) I use a Max-Gain fiberglass pole which gets me up to about 30 feet in low wind conditions. |
Electrically, the antenna has worked extremely well. While I've not been rigorous in my measurements, I've found that this antenna will add a couple of S-units to a received signal compared with my SteppIR SmallIR vertical disguised as a flagpole. That's enough to bring the rare one out of the noise for a potential QSO. You definitely can't work them if you can't hear them.
I was pretty methodical with construction, and spread the initial assembly over a couple of evenings. Overall assembly takes a bit more room, and I was somewhat challenged with the typical small California backyard. I also did the assembly without any assistance. I used a Black and Decker workmate as a temporary construction stand. For stealth reasons, I ended up painting the bright yellow fiberglass rods with a battleship grey paint. Unfortunately, I did this after the hex was constructed which took much more time. If you want stealth, paint the fiberglass spreaders before the final assembly process.
Tuning was similar to NA6L's experience. Expect to raise and lower the antenna quite a few times. I was able to get an excellent low SWR on all bands, but probably spent the better part of a day doing the tuning by myself. My only difference with NA6L's description is that I found it best to fold the unused portion of the tuning tails back along the wire. For me, this seemed to most closely approximate the effect of having the wire physically cut. The worst tail position was extended out in the same direction as the wire run. KK7S created some 4-NEC2 models which I ran to help with the tuning. (See his review on the FoldingAntenna.com website under reviews.) Wire antennas are somewhat susceptible to the thickness of the insulation coating on the wire since it changes the velocity of propagation of the wave down the wire structure. Having a model really helped me understand the tuning, and I think contributed to the excellent final result. The model correlated very accurately with my final build when I used actual wire and insulation dimensions.
Since I was building this by myself, I ended up coming up with a number of techniques which helped in a solo assembly project. I'll be glad to share more detailed techniques and photos upon request. (email@example.com)
Because I'm storing the antenna in the garage between deployments, I found it easiest to just fold the whole thing upwards like a giant inverted umbrella. This makes deployment much simpler since I can just let the arms carefully drop down after removing the retaining straps. There are a number of tricks which help me keep the antenna from becoming tangled, and help lower the arms gracefully. Again, contact me if this of interest for you.
Finally, I would really like to commend the folding hex-beam creator, Christian, DL1ELU, for his excellent support and suggestions. I didn't need much help, but when I did Christian was prompt and on the money with his help. I'm glad to see that Vibroplex is now the US distributor. Most of my problems were with international shipping and delays in customs, which should be a thing of the past.