Hygain VB-214FM Antennas
Question to group. Anyone using or used the Hygain VB-214FM beam antenna? I got two that I'm looking at putting up for a MS and EME array.
I wouldn't have recommended these, but it seems you might already have them, in which case use them!
I'd definitely not use the RG58 baluns they supply, and would replace them with better coax like RG213/U. The VB214 is actually optimized by design for the higher part of the band (for FM use) and not the lower end, where all the MS and EME activity is, so you may have to adjust the balun to be about 1/2" longer, and maybe even the "U" shaped hairpin a bit as well. I much prefer beams with a T-match that is adjustable like the M2 products, so they can be field tuned in a minute with nothing more than an Allen wrench.
But those 214's will certainly work for you. Unfortunately MS and EME have somewhat different requirements (ideally) in that for EME you need elevation and azimuth rotation and the antennas only need to be high enough above ground to prevent looking through major obstacles as the beams rotate and elevate to site the moon's path; many EME arrays are pretty low, especially if they're in a clear area. For MS, I've never found any advantage to elevation adjustment but there's a pretty big advantage to having the antennas as high above ground as possible, which gives you a longer horizon to catch the meteor trails, since anything "good" we want to work is on the horizon or way beyond it.
Have fun and hope to C U on 2m!
While what Steve said is basically correct, you should not be discouraged from trying these if you already have them and also have the other parts for your station.
You probably can work other EME Big Gun stations like KB8RQ, RU1AA, W5UN, IK3MAC, HB9Q etc using WSJT digital and one of these antennas with ~> 100W when conditions are good. Use low loss coaxial cable. Depending on your location, you may actually want to start with no elevation control. If the terrain is flat and you don't have lots of trees or buildings in the way you can get ground gain when the moon is from 3 to 15 degrees in elevation with no antenna elevation. You will have only 30 minutes to an hour of usable moon window during moon rise and moon set. This also simplifies pointing the antenna for your initial attempts. Later if you get the moon fever, you can add elevation control, more power, better antenna etc. If you have lots of interference then having elevation helps a lot but there are some stations who have made 100s of EME contacts with no elevation control.
Also this kind of installation works pretty well for WSJT meteor scatter. Mount one antenna as high as you can get it and running 100W you can work out to about 1000miles on random meteors. You can find guys to make schedules on pingjockey.net
I think that running meteor scatter using WSJT is good training to work up to making an EME QSO. Lots of guys worked their way through the ranks in this fashion. The early morning hours are best for random meteor scatter contact attempts. Trying with a bigger station in the 500 to 800 mile range will prove most productive to start.
So if you have a 2m multimode rig and/or brick amp capable of 100W or so. Give it a try. A low noise amplifier is not essential to get your feet wet. If you cant hear the big dogs without the preamp they probably won't hear you either unless you have a high power amplifier.
Give it a try...Meteor scatter and EME are a ton of fun and easier than many people realize.
--I've heard several people on the air with these antennas and the folks that use them are satisfied with them, overall. For some reason, the Cushcraft 13b2 which has the same boom length, cost about $150 more. Is the build quality on the HyGain not that good? For roughly the same boom length and gain, if the build quality on the HyGain is good, that's a heck of a deal ($80 or so) for a 14 element 2 meter beam.
We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. --Sir Winston Churchill
Cushcraft stuff is pretty overpriced. Since MFJ "acquired" Cushcraft I was kind of surprised they didn't make any price adjustments; maybe the whole CC operation had too much overhead and they couldn't control costs. I really don't know anything about it, but their prices aren't very attractive.
For VHF beams, I prefer M2 overall. Affordable, very high quality, well optimized antennas that are easy to adjust and age well. Directive Systems VHF antennas are very good also. I can't see buying any sort of VHF antenna that comes in a Cushcraft carton.
Thanks for the information so far. But, as for being new to MS or EME, I'm not.
If you look at my bio and my pic here on QRZ you will see that I've been in that
game for awhile now. But when we had a few hurricanes pass thru Florida here
my home array was damaged and time weathered beyond the amount I wanted
to invest to rebuild what I had. I do have 2 of the Hygain beams that was going
to be used for FM work but decided to use them for the MS & EME at this time.
As for the balun, on them, you are correct, I will be redoing that. I was just looking
for comments or any upgrades anyone has done to the Hygain arrays for use in the
lower part of 2 meters. Here at the house I only use about 50 feet of feedline to get
from the array to the shack, and I use 1" hardline. For the truck I use 1/2" flexable
hardline, but it's only about a 10 foot run.
Again, Thanks for the comments.
I'm just thinking that I can at least get back on the air with these 2 antennas until
I can afford a better M2 or better arrays.
73's de Eric...KD4MZM...EL87rg