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Reviews For: MFJ-1796 40 - 2 Meter Vertical Antenna

Category: Antennas: HF: Verticals; Wire; Loop

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Review Summary For : MFJ-1796 40 - 2 Meter Vertical Antenna
Reviews: 43MSRP: 209.95
40 - 2 Meter 1/2 wave dipole
Product is in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
AE5YJ Rating: 2014-04-08
Exceeded my expectations Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I bought this ground-independent vertical because 1.) no radial/counterpoise system was necessary (my yard is small) and 2.) It was relatively small in form factor. I knew it would be a compromise antenna, but I have to say that thus far I am very impressed with it’s performance. Assembly was a bit of a pain, and the instructions are dated. The instructions are for an older version of this antenna, as the hardware has changed several times by the looks of it. This created some confusion, but I figured it out. I assembled mine over the course of a weekend. Just as the manual states, after connecting to the antenna analyzer the antenna was resonant at or just below each band. I am lazy and was not looking forward to the tedious task of trimming the capacitance spokes, so I purchased an MFJ-993b wide range tuner. It tunes all specified bands from the bottom of each band to the top with <1.7 SWR. I did not add the 6 and 2 meter stubs. Fired It up and made a few contacts, and am very pleased. I have this antenna ground mounted with the balun base approximately 5 feet off of the ground.

For comparison, I also have a Maple Leaf mini G5RV in an inverted vee configuration with the apex at 20’. While the vertical was a little noisier than the wire, naturally, the received signals were a full S-unit better than the wire antenna. This antenna easily outperforms my expectations, and while the build quality isn’t exactly up to par with the space shuttle, it isn’t terrible either. I am very happy with this purchase and aside from the inaccurate instructions (due to hardware changes) I can find no fault with this antenna at this time. I plan to review it again in several years so I can judge it’s ability to withstand the elements.

73 de AE5YJ
VA2DV Rating: 2014-01-20
Well designed antenna Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I usually do some bashing on MFJ products but i have to say that they have do their homeworks on this one. Everything is in the box. A 85 inch box ! Strange since no parts are longer than 60 inch ! Not a single bolt or washer is missing. All parts are of good quality including the fiberglass insulators and the mounting hardware.Once assembled, is it light enough to be raised in solo. Tuning by cutting the spokes can be a little tedious but take your time.
The provided chart is a good starting point.
Perfomance is superior to my previous antenna, a Cushcraft MA5V thta was limited to 250w. Now I also have access to 40m as a bonus to the power level handling of 1k. I am alread planning to add
some 12m and 17m parallel stubs made of Hustler resonators or similar. Overall i am more than satisfied with this antenna at 249$ can.
KI4DTB Rating: 2013-07-25
good antenna Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Have used mine for 7 years, and it had been used before that. If you have limited space, this is a good antenna. Light weight, short (12 feet), very sturdy, easy to put up, not bothered by wind, needs no additional support or radials. So how does it perform? Mine has worked perfectly since put up. It hears equal to or better than my 90' long wire. It performed as good as a carolina windom. Down side is no 17 meters. MFJ really needs to add this or market an add on kit for owners. I like mine and will use it for another 15 years. I found assembly time consuming but not difficult, and replacement parts are readily available from MFJ. I don't know about MFJ's quality control these days, but the older antennas are easy to find, easy to fix, relatively cheap, sturdy, and work very adaquately. 73. Doug KI4DTB
KF8GE Rating: 2012-10-09
Piece of crap! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I am normally the last person to criticize MFJ products but after preasassembling the top and bottom sections and both loading monstrosities, I took a day off work to tune and mount the antenna. It was in the trash heap by 3:00 PM. The mounting hardware is awful, so is the hardware on the loading sections. After several hours of frustration, had my R-5 back up in 5 minutes.
WV4I Rating: 2012-03-26
improved works great Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Since I slammed the WARC version of this antenna so hard several years ago, I think an update is warranted. First, I wound up getting the WARC version on its advertised bands,, i.e. 12/17/30/60, after much trial and error, many, many hours. 6M was done with parallel wires fed from the feed point using standoffs, and for 2M, I used metal strips attached directly to the feedpoint bolts to form a 2m dipole, albeit horizontal.

I think the other poster is correct in that you could tweak one or more intended bands of this antenna to a nearby WARC band, i.e. 40 to 30, 20 to 17, etc.

I just installed the non WARC 1796 and used it for the SSB prefix contest this past weekend. Since I already have a HF2V vertical tuned to 40M phone, I set the 1796 to 40M CW, so can't comment much about 1796 on CW yet. However, the performance on 20/15/10M SSB was superb, especially given the overall length (efficiency) of this antenna, and with the feedpoint at only 15'. It handled 1500W SSB with zero spark and arc. If I could hear them, I could usually work'em, excluding the 5KW sounding stations.

The antenna tunes as the instructions predict, at the bottom ends of 40/20/15M. On 10M, mine was down at 26mhz, unless I was flunking antenna analyzer, or have/had nearby object detuning, but got that fixed with adjustment of spoke length.

Given the 10M issue, and not so low min SWR's on 40 and 15M, I'm guessing the balun may need some help, not sure. Plan to wind a coax choke balun, say 10 turns at 6" diameter, put at feedpoint, see what happens. Also do the math on the supplied choke balun of 3" diameter, many turns.

For 6M, I got 50.6 mhz with a decent null, but instructions not real clear on where stub brackets mount vs feed bolts, so could just need to move those, as want 50.125. Threaded rod stubs have a lot of length adjustment also.

For 2M, not really getting a null in that band. Could be something to do with placement/routing of feedline/proximity. Short WL, so does not take much to get it out/in adjust. Could just put horizontal metal strips directly off feedline mount points and suspect tuning will be done. Some signal loss on FM if horizontal of course.

This antenna will take far more than 2 hours to construct, much less adjust. Have your readers handy for small hardware, lots of it, mostly stainless, excellent quality, BTW.

The hardware is better quality than a few years ago, and the instructions far better. The spokes look to be AlCad or anodized, not just bare aluminum. They are now curled on the end, supposedly for higher power capability, but safer for the eyes regardless. You'd probably want to bring this antenna down if high winds/ice expected, but then most are like that.

I think this antenna is an excellent value for the antenna and/or space constricted QTH. Also if you simply want to minimize the radial count on/in your yard. It also is a good antenna for portable ops, notwithstanding typical campground RFI from generators/inverters/etc.

Nice job on this one MFJ.

Earlier 0-star review posted by WV4I on 2008-05-07

I wanted an MFJ-1796W. What I apparently got was part 1796 and part 1796W, both in terms of parts and instructions, so putting a review here on 1796 thread also. The instruction manual has literally been cut and pasted fm the 1796 manual, but the proofreaders (right) left references to 40m and spoke lengths that were not included with the W kit, parts were included for 2m/6m that the W is not supposed to cover, but no reference in the "instructions" re 2m/6m, really not even sure if coils are designed for WARC or non WARC bands. Call MFJ you say? Well I did. Turns out that the fellow that supposedly designed this antenna took the plans with him, no longer works there. Still waiting on the call back fm the poor MFJ person that said he'll have to build one of these W versions just to figure it out. I would be very wary of buying either the 1796 or 1796W version of this antenna for the reasons listed. Meanwhile if someone could email me spoke lengths on various rings, and turns counts on each coil, I would appreciate it. I would like to know if I'm wasting my time trying to get my 1796W on the WARC bands.
Thanks.....Link, WV4I,
N4UFO Rating: 2011-07-19
Additional review; moved antenna Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
Just wanted to add some changes since my earlier review. Still have the 6m & 2m stubs removed. Have removed the wires and I think the bands the antenna is designed for work better without the additional wires I added. With that said, I think the antenna is performing even better at 5 feet above ground that it was at 20 feet above ground, over my house. (Could just be my location/ground.)

After moving the antenna, I discovered that the only differences between the MFJ-1796 (40, 20, 15 & 10m) and the MFJ-1796W (60, 30, 17 & 12m) is the size/amount of the capacitive hats on each band; the 'W' having greater "hats". However the COILS are the SAME! This prompted a very simple idea for a mod... I added to the capacity hats on the 20m section and tuned it to work on the 30m band! The hats for the other bands had to be "tweaked" since each band affects the tuning of the others, but it is now properly tuned for 40, 30, 15 & 10 meters.

As for performance, it is my "GO TO" antenna now for 30 meters! (My DXCC count just hit 90 with cards still coming!) It outperforms my 30m vee at 25 feet up. The 40m is still a bit narrow and I have to go to the wires or use the tuner for digital & SSB but it does very well in the lower CW band. On 15m it does not normally outperform my beam, but who would expect that... However my beam has some SWR/tuning issues on 15m so I still use the vertical sometimes with good results. On 10m, it is unbelievably my "go to" for any local ground wave propagation. Most guys in the area are running some type of vertical antenna so it beats the beam (cross polarization loss is 17 dB, so this is expected). But the unusual part is that it seems to perform better 5 feet off the ground than at 20 feet. I have a similar situation with TV reception where I moved a 4 bay UHF antenna to a a pole a few feet off the ground in front of my house and it performs better than it did on TOP of the house... So, "your mileage may vary".

All in all, I still recommend this antenna to anyone that wants a good DX antenna on a modest budget, doesn't want to or can't lay down a lot of radials and/or has restricted space. I only wish MFJ made a version with 80m. (I don't count the 1798, it's a different design and doesn't appear to stand up to harsh weather.) However the short size might make 80m not very efficient. [I am trying out a Hy-Gain AV18-VS at 3-4 feet off the ground and planning to experiment with above ground radials, favoring certain directions to gain directivity. (see article in June 2011 QST) But that is another review. =^D ]

If I had a machine shop and the where with all, I would homebrew an 80m shortened, end loaded vertical, similar to the 1796, only a bit taller. It is a sound design and a good antenna.
KA7SLC Rating: 2011-01-16
This really works! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
The MFJ-1796 is just a good all around vertical.
After stringing up fan dipoles, monoband dipoles for Digi/Phone for multiple bands, I decided to go buy a verticle for my new house here in Oregon. When I went shopping all my local radio shop had in stock in my price range was this little 14 foot tall (under $200 range) vertical. He MFJ-1796 is a 40, 20, 17(yes loads and easily talks on 17) 15, 10, 6 and 2 meter Center fed balanced dipole in an easy to move vertical fashion. Unlike other base fed verticles, this one is center fed and it can even be configured as a balanced horizontal rotatable dipole as well.
Like all antennas with lots of parts, this one took me about 5 hours to put together, and another 2 hours to tune properly on a temp 8’ mast mounted on my fence. I would say you must have a antenna analyzer to tune this puppy. It will tune for digi/cw band OR Phone, but usually not both on 40 or 20, even though 20 meters is a tiny bit wider and can handle some of both bands. All the higher bands are much more broadband and will work okay with a good tuner. Hint: Download the MFJ Rotatable dipole model manual and it’ll give you better tuning ideas for the MFJ-1796 spokes.
RESULTS: Very first 20 meter contact was S9 into Russia. Second was a 15 minute conversation to a Missouri fellow at S-9 on 15 meters. We played with my wire as well and compared this vertical. The MFJ-1796 vertical heard things better and was QUIETER than all my dipoles and wires. On 40 meters, while it’s compromised, I easily worked PSK31 at 25 watts into Florida. I also talked to a few stations on the phone side but I had this tuned low for DIGI/CW portion of 40. All night long I worked PSK31 stations on 40 meters, sometimes with only 5 watts. So, the result is amazing. It DOES work and work well. Yes, I have vast Yagi experience and this thing really does do some hard work for it's size. I want to try this horizontal at some point and use it as a rotatable dipole, which is super simple to straighten it into a balanced rotatable dipole. The horizontal unit uses a simple 1:1 balun, so if you don't like coiling coax chokes, then feed this antenna with a good HF-6 meters wide range balun.
For a slighty short antenna that mounts on roofs (or chimneys in my case) without needing any ground radials at all, this shorty, the MFJ-196 is amazing.
OZ9CD Rating: 2010-03-26
Thumbs UP ! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
After reading several of the reviews of the antenna here on - I took the step and bought one. My living area is antenna space restricted, both in width and height - so my staring point was that I knew that I couldn´t compare the MFJ1796 to a full size dipole or a big beam. BUT - before this one, I had an older Outback 250 (6,5 m high endfed antenna) and I thought that it was the most I could get out of working hf in restricted space - it was doing ok - made quite a few dx contacts, but my "ears" were not good on hf.
After assembling and mounting the MFJ 1796 on a pole on the ground, I connected it to the tuner I used for my Outback250 also (Couldn´t properly tune antenna due to frost and snow). And I was surprised - big time. This antenna lets me work almost any country that others in my area can work. And after tuning the thing this spring - it got even better. I work 10,12,15,17,20,40 meters on it - but on 17 I have to use the tuner.
Compared it over a long period to a ham friends G5RV (high and clear mounted) - and both reception and transmitting reports all over the world shows a difference appr. 1-2 s units, depending on distance and direction. On 40 meters our reports are quite equal.

I have not tested it on 6 meter (the band is generally not very active here and now)

And on 2 meter I don´t have to use it (have other verticals especially for that)

Downsides: not "Rolls Royce quality", and tuning this antenna takes a while due to construction.

UPside: only 1 sq.m. footprint - only 4 meters high - works great.

So if You are restricted by space - get this one. And don´t compare it with full size beams or so - thats unfair, because we all know that size matters :o)

Conclusion: I´m thrilled with this antenna ! - and as a final... last week I got myself a FT817 and are now working a lot of countries on QRP power (2,5 Watts) on this antenna - distances between 300 - 7.000 km - US included - so for me, real life shows that this antenna works !
It´s a keeper !
WINKEV Rating: 2009-09-26
WOW!!!! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Just installed the antenna last night 5 feet off the ground on a tripod, fired up the hf rig on 40 meters and could hear contacts being made all the way to Europe!!! Today I am going to try doing some transmitting to see what happens!!! I am impressed with the look of it and I found it very east to set up!!! I have a very good feeling that this antenna is a keeper!!!
KF6POG Rating: 2009-08-16
10 1/2 years of good service Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Because of HOA antenna restrictions, this is the only HF antenna I have ever used at my base. Although I do have a High Sierra Sidekick and several home brew antennas for my travel trailer. The 1796 was not difficult to assemble or tune as I do have an antenna analyzer. It has given good service all this time until 2 months ago. It has developed a short or a short circuit somewhere and I just cannot find it; with or without the analyzer. I cannot tell any difference in my transmissions but a few minutes after turning the radio on, the receive dies down to nothing. When I punch the PTT key the receive comes back up for a few minutes and then goes back down. I have substituted power supplies and radios. I have also used my base radios in the travel trailer with food results. I have replaced all coax with new and still the problem persists. But overall, it has been great for 10 years. I guess I will just have to replace it with another one just like it.