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Anyone have experience with a Steppir Antenna?

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by KB4MNG, Jul 7, 2013.

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  1. KB4MNG

    KB4MNG Ham Member

    I was really considering one until I spoke to a ham in VA. He stated he had one, worked great, except for the little motors. Once they got some age on them, they started failing. He repaired his several times and ended up scrapping the antenna when he had $3K in the antenna:( He probably had an early version. Has anyone heard of problems like this?
     
  2. KC7YRA

    KC7YRA Ham Member

    Yes, it seems fairly common. I had looked VERY hard at a Steppir and almost pulled the trigger.

    My hold up was/is that my tower is fixed and the beam can only be moved by a crane. If I had a tilt over or another way to access the beam, I would have taken the chance. For all of the motor problems, most folks report that Steppir is very good at sending replacements.

    So for me, if I had an easy way to change them, I would have gotten the Steppir. Since I did not, I went with a more traditional beam.

    Choices

    Brad
     
  3. KJ4VTH

    KJ4VTH Subscriber

    A few club members have them & say they are expensive and worth it. $3k less than retail price for a big Steppir. Or was that repair cost (which sounds extraordinarily high)? They sell reconditioned EHU for $185 now.
     
  4. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member

    Have owned 3el close to 10 years now, seems to work as advertised. Any multi-band antenna is a compromise for example you can change the element lengths but not the spacing which would take the antenna to the next level. They may have that in mind not checked their site lately.
     
  5. K7GQ

    K7GQ Ham Member

    I've owned a 3EL for 11 years now and have had only one problem which necessitated working on the antenna - a plastic cone-shaped tip came off of one of the Beryllium tapes which caused it to jam in the fiberglass tube. That's far less problems than the A-3S that I used to use and had to come down at least every other year.

    Rebuilt motorized assemblies (EHU's) are available and trade-in credit is given for ones sent in making a change-out pretty inexpensive.
     
  6. KB4MNG

    KB4MNG Ham Member

    He said the original price plus repair cost....
     
  7. W7JZE

    W7JZE QRZ Lifetime Member #84

    I didn't know that... Not sure I'd want to be handling that very much. I know the tapes are inside fiberglass(?) tubes and not normally handled at all. I hope the action of the motor driving sprockets on the tape doesn't lead to metal dust accumulation inside the tubes Smilie QRZ 100%-OMG Scared Big Eyes Smile.jpg . Have you ever noticed that when changing out the EHUs?

    Question:

    • Do the tubes come with that Be tape already "assembled" inside the tubes or does the radio-operator install the tapes during antenna installation at their station?
    • Are there any special disposal requirements when necessary to finally do so?

    This has been one of my "dream antennas" on my antenna bucket-list Smilie QRZ 100%-Yellow Happy Face Smile.jpg , but I was not aware of the Be. Thanks for the info.
    .
     
  8. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber

    The tapes are BeCu (beryllium copper) alloy, mostly copper. The electronic industry has been using this material for a very long time, all over the place.

    I wouldn't worry about that "hazard," as there isn't any. The "risk" is that since there are moving parts within the antenna, they can break -- and sometimes they do.
     
  9. W7JZE

    W7JZE QRZ Lifetime Member #84


    AHhhh... Thanks, Steve.
     
  10. KD0CAC

    KD0CAC Ham Member

    I have not owned one but read others talk about increasing the failure in areas that have freezing winters .
    Especially ice locking it up and then trying to move .
    But then that is bad for everything ,
    http://www.w0aa.org/images/Ice storm large.jpg
     
  11. K0BG

    K0BG Platinum Subscriber

    There are about 6 in the area (Roswell, NM) that I am aware of, and all but 2 have had motor problems. This simple fact is why I haven't bought one, and I'm in the market for a new beam! As pointed out above, they are a compromise, but only when compared to a monobander. Compared to a comparable fixed-spacing trapped beam, they're on par. They do have the advantage element weight wise, and if you live in a windy area like Roswell, or in an icing area, that's an advantage. All this said, I had a TH6 up for about 20 years in two locations in the Denver, area, and no problems whatsoever. As a result, I'm leaning towards a TH11 albeit I have a problem with MFJ's service.
     
  12. WH2HAO

    WH2HAO QRZ Moderator

    I researched the Steppir for a long time. I ended up getting the Optibeam which was a great decision. I heard too many stories of the Steppir breaking and needing repairs. The Optibeam is rock solid.
     
  13. K7MH

    K7MH Ham Member

    A friend of mine Rick W7AV did the same. He had given a lot of thought to all the better beams and bought the Optibeam OB16-5.
    We spent a couple days putting it together and it was very impressive how it is constructed. All pre-drilled and countersunk. Look ma, no hose clamps! Everything is a perfect fit. I don't recall having to measure anything.
     
  14. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member

    When I decided to erect a tower + big yagi, anything SteppIr was not considered due to cost and reliability concerns from the Rube Goldbergish design.

    I pulled the trigger on a used Force12 C-4XL (discontinued and replaced by the Delta-4XL) and have NO regrets. Reassembly went smoothly. Tuning was almost not an issue (only 40m needed adjustment).

    I don't get absolutely flat VSWR but it's darned close on 20/15/10m. 40m is narrow but my TS850SAT tunes it easily. It's supposed to work on 17 and 12m w/ a tuner but I found it's needed only on 12m.
     
  15. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber

    Actually, "ice" shouldn't impact a SteppIR any more than it would any other antenna. The "moving parts" are all inside the fibreglas tubing, not outside, and they're completely sealed so there would never be ice in there.

    They fail here locally in the Los Angeles area, where there isn't any ice. It's not a constant problem, but it can be a problem for some, especially those with tall towers that can't retract or tilt over, so servicing is a big effort.
     
  16. W4PG

    W4PG Moderator Staff Member

    I've had a 4 ele SteppIR up over 4 years now. A local ham buddy has had his up for several years longer. I've never had a moments problem with mine and neither has my buddy. Some of the early models did have issues with the motors, but that's pretty much not an issue anymore. When you consider all factors, weight, wind load, etc etc it's hard to beat these antennas. Having a resonant antenna on every frequency means no tuner required. One antenna works all bands so you can use a smaller rotor, smaller tower, etc . . not so hard to keep up in the air.

    Being able to switch the antenna 180 deg with the push of a button is invaluable during contests!! Whenever I work someone who wonders how the SteppIR performs, I simply hit the 180 deg button and ask, "how much did the signal drop?" Gets them every time!!

    But I will say this . . . I'm in Florida. NO freezing weather down here but we do have lots of lightning/wind storms. Being able to retract the elements is also a nice feature during those storms.
     
  17. W4AMP

    W4AMP Premium Subscriber

    In my opinion you can buy a Mosley at 1/3 the price and it will last your lifetime.
     
  18. KA7RRA

    KA7RRA Platinum Subscriber

    I have had two friends who have the 3 element STEPPIRs and they never had a problem with them. I was going to put one up in my yard but the city of Lake Stevens wanted 650.00 in fees to put it up,and my dog was sick and dying so I did not mess with it
     
  19. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Ham Member

    I know personally 4 hams who own them a friend in CA. had his for less than a year and sold it last month it had more down time than on the air. He replaced his with a Mosley and I would expect he see's no more problems. Of the other 3 2 have had problems with the motors several times and the other with the controller. SteppIR replaces the parts but the labor involved ( for some of them the cost of labor hired) and time to do it all is considerable.

    I looked at one 5 years ago and considered it but after checking it out for a month or so decided against it. I decided in favor of the Mosley Pro-67-C-3 all bands (7) 10-40m with 3 elements on 40m. It is for sure a much better built antenna than most all the others on the market and in business longer than anyone else. It shows in build quality and ease of assembly. Anyone who has owned a Mosley or assembled one can attest to the facts about them, mine has been up now for going on 6 yrs. now and not a singles issue......Unless you count working a lot of DX with it and increasing the DXCC count the 30m element was big feature also as I do like some digital modes.
     
  20. N8MSA

    N8MSA Premium Subscriber

    I have a DB-18E (three tunable elements plus a 6M passive reflector), in Michigan (see my QRZ picture of my "iced SteppIR), and haven't had any problems - at all - in the three years I have owned it. It is, as many have noted, a compromise solution, albeit one that works very well relative other, trap-based compromises. The main reason that a SteppIR is a compromise is boom length, which may cost you a dB here-or-there, but it's very difficult to get the same performance out of other antenna with as small a footprint as a SteppIR. I would heartily recommend one if, like me, size is a concern.
     
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