Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Contest season and the Hygain beam

 Contest season and the Hygain TH3jr beam
Hygain TH3jr beam antenna

Well, here it is, contest season, and i hope to be doing some maintenance on the Hygain TH3jr beam antenna soon. Right now, i have it up on a 35 ft mast, that is collapsible, ready to be brought down at any time. It has been up for almost a year , and has performed quite well. I have ran into a few problems, that i hope to correct this weekend.  Out of all the antennas that i use for 20-15-10M, this one performs the best, when it works properly. Out of all the faults, the major problems are:

1. The traps have little rubber grommets on each end, that tend to dry out and crack, allowing water into the traps, which dramatically affects the performance. You can purchase a new set for DxEngineering, which will throw you back 60 bucks or so. (Electrical tape is cheaper, but wont last very long).
2. The traps themselves, which tend to fill up with water in a wet climate. Yes, i know, you are supposed to make sure that the little drain holes are facing down, so that they don't fill up with water, but that still doesn't change the fact that condensation will change your SWR (Standing Wave Ratio), causing the antenna to either resist most of the signal going into it, or make it omnidirectional, which defeats the purpose of having a Beam in the first place.

3. The RF balun, which you can purchase from DxEngineering, or build yourself. I chose to build my own (READ: poor), and didnt build it properly, since i was anxious to get the antenna up and see how well it performed. I ended up wrapping abt 20ft of RG-8 COAX around a plastic spool, with wire-ties holding it in place, which quickly dried out during the summer sun, and now onyl a few hold it in place.

 Still, overall this Hy gain TH3jr beam has been a real performer, and i look forward to seeing how well it works once i bring it down and do the maintenance. I still feel that it was well worth the 50 bucks i initially paid for it, and have worked some incredible DX with the antenna.