|I live on a small city lot. A full size 40 meter yagi would overhang the neighbors property. The B-246 with its 10' boom and narrow turning radius fit the bill size wise, if it worked.|
This review is with the B-246 at 25' on a rooftop, awaiting construction of a tower. Since this location is low, and "in the trees", I did not expect much.
My main bands of interest are 17 and 40, but I often get on 10,15,20 to chase DX. Previous antenna was a Cushcraft A3, which worked well, a 40M inverted V at 26' which I used to WAS in 29 days on 40 meters in summertime, and some assorted dipoles.
The B-246 uses a Driver/director type arrangement rather than the more usual Driven/Reflector. I understand this trades gain for front to back.
Since I mainly operate OMISS net on 40 meters, I did not need front to back, but did need to be able to "poke" the signal out in a given direction and receive that direction well. The B-246 does that. I worked a Californian 5 watt QRP station I could not ever hear using the V or vertical, yet he was a copyable 5/1 on the B-246. On a 10' boom, I would not expect any gain, but somehow the B-246 lives up to its claimed 2db gain on 40, without the deep nulls off the side and rear, making it perfect for me.
I can only assume they do it by concentrating the signal at the horizon.
The SWR graph on the B-246 website is narrower than my experience. I can get 100kc on 40, almost the entire phone band on 20, and all of 17, 15, and 28.0 up to 29.0 with under 2:1 using 125' of LMR400. I have not used it on 6 meters yet.
The great thing about the B-246 other than the size, was the ease of assembly (3 hours for two of us in a driveway), ease of tuning (all bands were untouched from default settings except 40, which required about 3 trips to the roof to trim two spokes of the capacity hat).
The biggest plus is the fact that unlike other multiband beams, the B-246 has actual gain on 17 meters. Its not just a dipole thrown on for good measure. A 17M pileup busting contact with Bahrain using 500 watts to the B-246, while he was using 1500 watts to a phased two element dipole beam resulted in the same exact signal readings on both ends (they were NOT the obligatory 5/9, I requested a real report).
In direct A/B comparisons of transmitted signal on 40 with stateside stations, I am told there is either no S unit difference, or a slight improvement using the B-246 against the inverted V. In almost all cases, the receive is the same or about 1 S unit better on the B-246, and the background noise level (excluding static crashes)
is usually > 3 S units lower on the B-246.
While this beam is small, it packs a lot of punch in the forward direction on all bands. Its not as powerful as an A3 on 10/15 and 20, nor does it have a sharp front to back, or front to side, but the tradeoff is good honest gain in the forward direction, and the addition of 6, 17 and 40 meters.
40 will become more the band of choice once the sunspots die down, and the B-246 can easily pull in those European and Australian DX stations on 40. It holds its own on 20M as well, as evidenced by my contact with E51AND in the Cook Islands during the last CQ contest while he was working a pileup of JA's at 0412Z my local time.
The manufacturer claims the antenna will work on 12M with a tuner. I verified this, it tunes up quickly, although the band has rarely been open since I installed the B-246, so I have not had enough experience using it on 12M to render an opinion on that band yet.
The B-246 is a simple rotatable dipole on 10M, and I made several 10 meter contacts to prove it works just fine on 10 when the band is open.
I can only imagine the improvement when I get the antenna 60' up in the air, and clear of the trees...but if I had to leave it on the roof, it would still be a performer.
The manufacturer answered all my pre-purchase Emails promptly. I did not require any further help once assembled. The included instructions were easy to understand, all parts were well packaged, and nothing was missing. Elements were color coded, capacity hats were labeled and in separate bags with regard to band and install location.
I would highly recommend the B-256 to other hams who are challenged by space and want an antenna that covers all the popular ham bands, sans 80 meters, using one antenna.