Arrow versus Elk - Yet Again
Every few months a thread starts somewhere on the 'Net - demeaning Arrow
Antennas for whatever reason. Or the "Elk vs. Arrow" silliness - where one will
tell all that one or the other is vastly superior to the other ...
There's plenty of "Elk vs. Arrow" debate on the `Net. A lot of it pure rubbish
- and not written by people who have actually purchased and own both units as
they make their uneducated allegations. A couple of the re-occurring themes ...
"Arrow doesn't publish gain numbers for their antennas."
This is true. Maybe a little "arrogant" of Arrow, too (grin). But reliable test
data is out there - and thousands of owners will attest that their Arrow
Antennas are performing magnificently for what they were designed to do.
"The Arrow is hard to transport."
Well, I devote my entire Ford Ranger's covered pickup bed to my Arrow when I
take it places. Rarely has it been disassembled. But to make it absolutely flat,
all one needs to do is unscrew the three 2M element pairs, and you have a flat
plane of an antenna.
"Arrows are all engineered wrong - they cannot possibly work."
A little story for you. While working for HRO-Anaheim a few years ago, I sold an
Arrow to a client for working the satellites. I had first-hand experiences with
the Arrow, and therefore could wholeheartedly recommend them to others. The
gentleman was waiting for me to open up the shop the next morning, with his
Arrow in hand.
"I know antenna theory, and this antenna cannot possibly work - it is engineered
all wrong - I want a refund!" - he demanded.
Hmmm. Part of me wanted to discover if he assembled it correctly, and whether or
not he actually tested it. But the other part of me was thinking, "Well, I can
purchase it myself as an open-box item ... "
Which I did. And it is the SAME antenna that I have used the past 6+ years for
EVERY demo and presentation I have given.
Moral of the story: The Arrow Antenna may not please some engineers. But it sure
pleases those who desire to work the FM satellites.
"The Arrow Antenna is much heavier ... "
I have brand-new, un-opened Elk and brand-new, un-opened Arrow in my hands. The
Elk package weighs 35.6 ounces. The Arrow weight 33.6 ounces. Any "weight
difference issue" is, well, NOT an issue.
And on and on ... EITHER antenna is a great investment. Most of the anti-Arrow
nonsense on the `Net remind me of while my wife was proudly carrying her Nikon F
in the 1970s (arguably the most significant SLR in 35mm history), others would
comment, "Oh, my Pentax / Minolta / Canon is as good as that ... " --- But you
never heard any Nikon owner state any such comparison ... (grin)
How do the Elk and Arrow compare? Both work the FM birds very well. Either make
working the FM sats feel like "cheating" - the gain is that dramatic over any HT
whip improvements you might make.
But from someone who has purchased both and has used them both, the Arrow
"senses" the initial capturing of a sat's signal more definitively than the Elk
does. I mean, in front of darned near every audience, I'll declare, "There it
is!" - when those close to me don't hear anything of note. But that slight "dip"
in the background noise ... no SWR meter can detect it ... you can just hear the
beginning of capturing the signal better with the Arrow than with the Elk. This
is NOT a scientific conclusion - just my personal observation after working the
sats for several years with both antennas.
And although it takes more patience and finesse to work with "lesser" antennas,
remember this: One of the first 2M reception reports from the 250mW transmitter
aboard the new ARISSat-1 satellite was from a gentleman using a STOCK DUCK on
his Yaesu VX-8 HT! SO ... simple HT antenna improvements (Smiley 270A ...
Diamond SHR-320A) are certainly viable options!
Antenna suggestions - and DIY projects - on the ANTENNAS page at ...
Tastes great. Less filling.
(I own both)
As a road warrior, I prefer the Elk. It works well overall and is a little easier for quick setup.
At home and mobile, I often use the Arrow for the down link antenna of all the V/U birds I work.
I've said it before and will repeat, I find SO-50 a little easier to work with the Arrow.
Frankly, they are both wonderful antennas and either are an excellent choice for LEO satellite work.
the Arrow works "OK", but it could have more gain on the UHF side if the element lengths were correct.
I've used mine many times, and I'm (still!) working on extending the UHF elements by approximately 1/2".
>> ... the Arrow works "OK", but it could have more gain on the UHF side if the element lengths were correct ...
Thanks for that - I need to add that to my little ditty on Arrow naysayers. I guess 10.6 db gain just doesn't cut it for some people ... (grin)
Oh, geez, Clint. We've been through this before.
Kent Britain did an analysis of the antenna after seeing it perform at VHF/UHF antenna measuring contests, and seeing it not perform as well as a 7-element antenna should.
He crunched the numbers, and the results indicated it was designed to numbers for an antenna having elements insulated from the boom. The problem is they're NOT insulated from the boom, and the result is the resonant frequency is out-of-band, causing lower gain.
Yes, the Arrow works "as-is", and most people probably wouldn't notice another 1~2dB of gain with a cleaner pattern.
A foreign ham, who's callsign I can't remember, did a project where he insulated the elements from the boom with plastic spacers, and said his Arrow worked better.
He also caught a lot of flack on the AMSAT-BB for taking such a "perfect" antenna, and "screwing it up".
I'm not knocking it. I've used mine many times with acceptable results, I'm just saying that's it's not as good as it could/should be.