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View Full Version : Gap vs. butternut vs cushcraft verticals, which is best????



KE5ZYP
05-16-2009, 08:52 PM
I need to employ a multi-band vertical for HF phone due to lack of real estate and have been checking out GAP, butternut and the Cushcraft models. I can easily run some radials on the ground. Please weigh in with your experience or suggestions for this new technician soon to be general class ham.

Thanks & 73's,

Grant / KE5ZYP

NN4RH
05-16-2009, 10:31 PM
Don't rule out the Hustler BTV series. They do pretty good.

I've had a 6BTV and currently have a Butternut HF2V + 30m coil., and a HyGain AV18VS that I've modified somewhat.

I have no experience with the GAP or Cushraft.

The 6BTV is a trap design for 80/75, 40, 30, 20, 15 and 10m. The main drawback in my opinion was very narrow 2:1 bandwidth on 80/75. The main advantage is that they are the lowest cost.

The Butternut HF2V is 80/75, 40 and 15 meters. With the 30m coil I use it on 30, too. It's taller than the Hustler BTV, a full 1/4 wavelength on 40m. It's still narrow on 80/75 but not as narrow as the BTV. There are 6 and 9 band versions of the Butternut.

The HyGain AV18VS is a less expensive base loaded vertical about 20 feet tall. I modified it by throwing away the base loading coil, and just adjust the length to change bands. This is usually my 20m antenna but right now it's set up for 10m. I could also use it on 17, 15, 12 if I wanted to.

All three of these can be mounted on the ground, or elevated on a mast. Either way, they need radials. If elevated, 2 tuned radials for each band. If they are ground-mounted, the lengths of the radials don't need to be tuned, but you need more of them. My HF2V has about 40 under it, and the HyGain AV18VS 16 (with more to come whenever I get around to it). More radials, lower angle of radiation and better efficiency.

KJ4CMG
05-16-2009, 11:46 PM
I have a Butternut HF6V and love it. Mine only has about 65 kHz bandwidth on 75m but other than that it has full coverage on 40m, 20m, 15m, and 10m. I don't use 30m yet.

K7MH
05-17-2009, 03:07 AM
http://www.championradio.com/publications.html#2
Scroll down to the publication on the verticals.
The real deal vertical antenna shootout.

KA4DPO
05-17-2009, 04:02 AM
I'm a big fan of Butternut antennas but remember that no vertical antenna will work well without a proper radial field.

W6ONV
05-17-2009, 12:33 PM
I compared about 8 verticals before selecting the Hustler 6BTV, then again I was working within a budget. But based on my comparisons and reviews the 6BTV fit the bill and I have used it just over 2 years and it has been a solid performer. Regardless of what vertical is decided upon don't forget your radial system, which is necessary. Currently I have 50 radials in a 360 degree pattern and I have done well with the ground mounted vertical.

KA4DPO
05-17-2009, 03:01 PM
I compared about 8 verticals before selecting the Hustler 6BTV, then again I was working within a budget. But based on my comparisons and reviews the 6BTV fit the bill and I have used it just over 2 years and it has been a solid performer. Regardless of what vertical is decided upon don't forget your radial system, which is necessary. Currently I have 50 radials in a 360 degree pattern and I have done well with the ground mounted vertical.


I have had four different vertical antennas over the years and one thing I learned is that you can't have too many radials. This is the key right here. All of the anetnnas mentioned in the original thread will perform very well if you have a radial field like ONV has. That is what will make the difference between disapointment and success. I can't stress that point enough because far too many hams think four or five radials for each band is enough.

If you are ground mounting the antenna there is no need to cut radials for each band. The purpose is to increase the permitivity of the surrounding earth. Cut a whole bunch of radials for the lowest band you intend to operate. If they are a little shorter or a little longer won't matter as much as having at least 30 or more radials.

K2WH
05-17-2009, 03:33 PM
Without a doubt - Butternut and Magic Dirt.

K2WH

W7KKK
05-17-2009, 04:06 PM
I had a Gap Titan years ago. I got it to get back on the air quickly when we moved. That thing was pretty poor as far as I was concerned. No radials, sure. Performance was lacking however.
I replaced it with a Butternut HF9V with lots of radials.
The difference was night and day to say the least.

W6ONV
05-17-2009, 06:15 PM
Not to diverge from the topic at hand but I am in the process of upgrading the 6BTV to a SteppIR BigIR (w/80M coil) in the next coming weeks (3-4 wk lead time). Before the vertical arrives I am going to fill out the radial plate (60 total) and increase the length of 25-30 radials. This should do nothing but improve the vertical, at least that is my hope since I can't find any of the "magic dirt" for sale ;)

KC8VWM
05-17-2009, 06:26 PM
The better question would be:

Which vertical antenna would work better - the one with the least, or the most ground radials installed?

I typically consider the actual physical length of the vertical antenna as the performance criteria factor regardless of the actual manufacturer.

Similarly, I also consider the antenna's overall structural and mechanical integrity when making comparisions. Not all aluminum is created equal.

WB2WIK
05-17-2009, 06:47 PM
I had a Gap Titan years ago. I got it to get back on the air quickly when we moved. That thing was pretty poor as far as I was concerned. No radials, sure. Performance was lacking however.
I replaced it with a Butternut HF9V with lots of radials.
The difference was night and day to say the least.

::Yep, I'd agree with that. The HF9V with a lot of radials is an excellent performer and will run rings around the GAP. The Hustler 5BTV/6BTV are also very good with a great radial system, but they don't cover 12 or 17 meters and only the 6BTV covers 30 meters. The Butternuts can be tuned from ground level, which is a slick advantage. The Hy-Gain AV640 is a pretty good vertical that does not require wire radials and works well when elevated high above ground, but it doesn't cover 80m at all. The AV18VS is pretty terrible compared to the others, it's just a short length of aluminum tubing with a manually tapped base loading coil. No comparison to the other ones discussed here.

WB2WIK/6

KC7YPJ
05-17-2009, 07:39 PM
personal opinion is to put up the tallest monopole you can get away with
then slap something like an mfj-927 at the feedpoint, selected because it
includes a coaxial dc power injector/extractor so you can power it without additional cabling.

Try not to exceed 5/8w on the highest band you intend to run and try
to get close (no more than a 20% reduction) to 1/4w on lowest band you want to operate.

the 5/8w rule is easy enough to bypass, add a pulley at the 20' mark and
add a 19' element for 20-10 use.

I run a 57' vertical/flagpole/40' mast made from emt conduit and a 102" stainless whip.
It works quite well for my 80-30m needs, 20-10 and even 160 are livable.

160 is a pita even with allot of room, and honestly a groundmount vert on 20-10
starts it's existance as a serious compromise, portable directional antenna for 20-10 are
fairly simple to build (38' balance fed rotatable doublet comes to mind)
but wait a 38' rotatable doublet would be hard to build, 2 sticks of 3/4" emt,
2 sticks of 1/2" emt, a couple 1/4" bolts and some creativity are all thats needed...

high band performance at this point in the solar cycle is hit and miss, focus
on the low bands for the next couple of years, and experiment with portable
high band designs.

As others have stated, you can have the best vertical in the world, if the radial
field sucks so will your vertical, groundmount requires an extensive radial field.
rough consensus is somewhere between 32-64 radials before adding more really
doesn't give enough bennefit to justify the cost/labor, that being said there are
many of us running 60-120 radials that will swear by the extra cost/labor...
Resonant radials aren't necessary for a groundmount setup, figure as many radials
as long as you can get them, my radial field consists of 32 each, 50',25',12.5'
the effort was not wasted...

KC2USN
05-19-2009, 02:30 AM
I just dug up a Butternut hf6v that I layed out in a field behind myhouse over 20 years ago. The ground was still a little frozen around it when I tried pulling it up, so I broke off one of the capacitors and I have one fairly bent 1/4in diameter top section that I think a tractor or mower ran over but I can still get parts for this even though I bought it in 85.
I don't know if the other brands will last that long and do they still support older models?
I don't have any data about ground radials but I am willing to bet soil type and pH have a great deal to do with the antenna working good also.

WB9KJS
05-19-2009, 02:47 AM
Years ago, I bought the Butternut HF9V antenna and have been totally pleased with it. I use an MFJ antenna tuner and talking overseas is as easy as pie. I swear by the Butternut. Good luck. Ben.

KI4YHY
05-19-2009, 01:51 PM
The GAP Challenger did a great job for me. It did require three 25 foot radials. I will be getting another one soon.

K9GTJ
05-19-2009, 02:02 PM
I have a Hy-Gain AV-620 which is a 6m through 20m vertical. It requires no radials. (I don't have room for radials and needed a roof mount.) It works great.

http://www.hy-gain.com/Product.php?productid=AV-620

I have worked Asia and Europe with the antenna plus North/South/Central America.

They do make a slightly taller version which adds 40m to the mix.

AI4NS
05-19-2009, 07:40 PM
I have a DX-88 that I have been pretty happy with. Does the WARC bands also. Like the others have said, lots of radials...

Mike
AI4NS

W7DTG
05-19-2009, 10:18 PM
The GAP Challenger did a great job for me. It did require three 25 foot radials. I will be getting another one soon.

From the general consensus, It would seem that most ground mounted verticals will work fairly well if a decent radial system is applied. I have used the Hygain 12AVQ, hustler 5BTV (without the 80m resonator - broke it), and the gap challenger. The Gap Challenger seemd to be the best of all the verticals, but it is made of flimsy aluminium and bends/breaks easily. Even in a ground mounted setting, it should be guyed if you have even moderate windstorms (25mph+) in your area.
I tried to mount the Gap Challenger above my roof on a 35 ft pole, and even with guy wires at the base of the antenna, and 2/3rds of the way up on the antena, the winds still bent the antenna right at the base just above my first set of guy wires.
I personally would not buy a Gap product again, considering the weight of the challenger and the flimsy aluminium used.

73, Don (W7DTG)

KA4DPO
05-19-2009, 10:57 PM
By now it should be pretty clear that the Butternut is the best choice.

W8ZNX
05-20-2009, 12:21 AM
By now it should be pretty clear that the Butternut is the best choice.

sry no

the best store bought hf vertical antenna
is the HY Gain AV-18HT " Hy Tower "

over 40 years and still making them

gets out like gang busters
wide band width,

when all the butternuts, and gaps are fried, busted, junk
there will be 40 plus year old Hy Towers
still putting out a good signal

also
a overlooked but good vertical
is the Hy Gain Hy Tower Jr.

dit dit
Mac

WB2WIK
05-20-2009, 12:47 AM
sry no

the best store bought hf vertical antenna
is the HY Gain AV-18HT " Hy Tower "

over 40 years and still making them

gets out like gang busters
wide band width,

when all the butternuts, and gaps are fried, busted, junk
there will be 40 plus year old Hy Towers
still putting out a good signal

also
a overlooked but good vertical
is the Hy Gain Hy Tower Jr.

dit dit
Mac

::Mac, I think it's probably more like 50 years. When I got my Novice as a kid 44 yrs ago, this model (18HT Hy-Tower) was on the market a long time.

However, this is a more complicated antenna than most and requires a concrete foundation with three insulators (provided by Hy-Gain) and you can't put it up in a day...in fact, it takes about a month, since you have to pour a concrete pad and let it cure.:p

I've nver seen the Hy-Tower Junior (except for some ads)...know anybody who has one?

73

Steve WB2WIK/6

KA4DPO
05-20-2009, 01:15 AM
Originally Posted by W8ZNX http://forums.qrz.com/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://forums.qrz.com/showthread.php?p=1580448#post1580448)
sry no

the best store bought hf vertical antenna
is the HY Gain AV-18HT " Hy Tower "

over 40 years and still making them

gets out like gang busters
wide band width,

when all the butternuts, and gaps are fried, busted, junk
there will be 40 plus year old Hy Towers
still putting out a good signal

also
a overlooked but good vertical
is the Hy Gain Hy Tower Jr.

dit dit
Mac




::Mac, I think it's probably more like 50 years. When I got my Novice as a kid 44 yrs ago, this model (18HT Hy-Tower) was on the market a long time.

However, this is a more complicated antenna than most and requires a concrete foundation with three insulators (provided by Hy-Gain) and you can't put it up in a day...in fact, it takes about a month, since you have to pour a concrete pad and let it cure.:p

I've nver seen the Hy-Tower Junior (except for some ads)...know anybody who has one?

73

Steve WB2WIK/6

The Hy Tower also costs about three times as much and has a footprint that may not be suitable for small suburban lots. The original poster asked about three specific antennas and I kept my answer to those three. There are other verticals such a the SteppIr vertical that is also a fine performer but that wasn't what he asked about.

For a small urban lot the Butternut is hard to beat for the price.

WB2WIK
05-20-2009, 02:29 AM
The Hy Tower also costs about three times as much and has a footprint that may not be suitable for small suburban lots. The original poster asked about three specific antennas and I kept my answer to those three. There are other verticals such a the SteppIr vertical that is also a fine performer but that wasn't what he asked about.

For a small urban lot the Butternut is hard to beat

::Very hard to beat. In fact, I beat one silly and it just kept coming back for more.;)

K2WH
06-04-2009, 08:12 PM
All those antennas work but the magic part is in the dirt.

K2WH

KC5VH
06-29-2009, 08:10 PM
You have probably already selected an antenna, however, I will comment. Years ago, I had a Butternut HF6V (I don't remember the X or not). I installed it on a Radio Shack push-up pole with 4 radials at 45 degrees for SWR and guying. I felt that I got good results, but had nothing to compare with. I replaced it with a beam because I wanted more "power". Beams are definitely a different class, but they are a lot more hardware and money, too. If I still had it, I would definitely use it to compliment my beam and 300 ft double extended ZEPP.

KI6USW
06-29-2009, 09:51 PM
As to the question of the original/first post, I had exactly the same dilemma and real estate problem. I needed an antenna that could honestly be useful on at least three bands and marginal on the others. Let's be honest; expecting too much from one antenna is just that - expecting too much...

After reading loads of literature and gleaning thru many reviews, I settled to buy a Hustler 6BTV and hassle with the radials -or- the GAP Titan. Had my credit card in hand and about to go to the local Ham Radio Outlet to buy the Hustler, when I read a post on QRZ. A Ham said that he had a Titan that he had taken down for minor repairs, and didn't put it back up yet. I PM'ed him - and asked if he was interested in selling it. To make a long story short - I purchased it from him and he boxed/sent it out to CA from IL for $200.

It's not too big but kinda ugly, and the fixes it required are simple ones. The Hustler would have required a lot of radials and a tilt plate in order to get it set up. And with all of the coils involved - well, it just seemed that db losses would range from small to large. And - really fussy to tune properly. The Titan is a center load dipole that comes pretty close to even SWR's with minor adjustments. That was a major reason for my final choice. The Butternut and Cushcraft were a few hundred more and have great reviews. But it was the people who have/own the Titan that really sold me - they sounded both satisfied and pleased with its performance.

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