Butternut HF9V vs Gap Challenger

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by K9UDX, Aug 24, 2009.

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  1. K9UDX

    K9UDX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Anyone had both antennas and can give a comparison between the two? I am trying to decide which would be the best investment.

    Performance, ease of assembly and installation, and durability are some of the factors in which I am interested.

    (One immediate downside for the Gap for me is apparently it must be shipped by motor freight and the common carriers have trouble getting over the 3-ton limit bridge to get to my QTH. I have to make arrangements to meet the driver somewhere and off load the shipment to my van)
  2. K5PO

    K5PO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have the Butternut HF9V and find it to be a quality antenna. I have not used the Challenger so I will not compare them or say one is better.

    Couple questions though:
    Do you plan to ground mount or elevated mount?
    Do you have the ability and space to put in a substantial radial field if ground mounted?
    What lot size are you placing the antenna? (how much room around antenna?)
  3. K9UDX

    K9UDX Ham Member QRZ Page

    1. Ground mount
    2. Yes
    3. 86 acres (well, probably closer to 2 acres without having to maneuver around too many trees).

    One of the "pluses" for the Gap (if one can believe the manufacturer's literature) is that it only requires three counterpoises; not all the radials Butternut writes about. That of course probably influences the relative performance when comparing the two.

  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    The three 25' wires attached to the bottom of the Gap are not ground plane radials or any sort of real counterpoise: They are base loading to make the lower assembly element appear longer than it is. In the top of the antenna is a capacitor that does essentially the same thing for the upper element.
  5. K5PO

    K5PO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    With that much space I don't think you need to go with the more compromised Challenger. You can have all the radials you need.

    BTW the HF9V is very well made. The assembly took me about 4 hours total. I heard some horror stories about how bad it was, but I didn't really run into any snags.

    The performance is as I would expect from a vertical antenna. I've gotten plenty of good signal reports, but you can get a good signal report from anything. The HF9V is all about the radials. You need at least 16 and if you can get 24 you will be doing well, as you increase toward 120 or so you will move toward a perfect ground. Read the writeup on the Bencher website about the antenna. It has a lot of useful information.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2009
  6. WR8D

    WR8D Ham Member QRZ Page


    I've had one of these up since they first came out many years ago. The counterpoise just does not cut the mustard like the ground radials did so...i'll be putting them back on mine when i move to the new location. I can't compair it to the other gap antenna but my experiance with verticles says ya gotta have radials. Butternut sales some made from 300 ohm twin lead that you can make yourself and those cover 10-40m pretty good, add a few for 75 meters and you'll be in business.

    The gap version may smoke the butternut but i've worked the world on phone and cw with my butternut and a good radial system for it to work against.

    If you don't have the room go with the gap...the counterpoise on the butternut sucks!

    73, John WR8D;)
  7. K5PO

    K5PO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yeah, I wouldn't use the Butternut counterpoise either unless you had no choice. They'll tell you themselves that it is really only available for people as a last resort. Just use regular radials.
  8. AA0DW

    AA0DW Ham Member QRZ Page

    May want to look into the cushcraft r 6000 or find a used r-5 r7000 etc

    I say this because they do not require radials that you have to bury in the ground. I've owned the r-5 and currently have an r6000 as part of my antenna "farm". It gets out ok for what it is--a compromise antenna ..and a pricey compromise at that.

    If you have the room, I'd simply go with a dipole fed with 450 ohm ladder line and attached to a tuner. Make each wire equal in length and make them as long as will fit on your lot. Use a plexi glass t insulator at the center of the dipole to relieve stress. Cheap and will work as good as any commercial antenna on the mkt IMHO. You can use a balun to attach the ladder line to if you want to have a coax connection entering your shack.
  9. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I use a Hy Gain Hy Tower for10-160m with 60 radials it is the best vertical that I have used so far. I use it for the low take off angle for DX on the low bands. My beams only go down to 40m and I have wire antennes for the rest of the others and a full wave loop for 160m that I can tune for all bands. I find that many times I may only hear a dx station on the vertical and not on any of the others. Good luck on your choice but use as many radials as you can get down.
  10. K4SC

    K4SC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Chicken Wire Radial System

    It doesn't seem as though you are getting any A/B comparisons between the two antennas. I'm not able to give you one either, but I think I can contribute to the discussion.

    I moved from South Carolina a bit over a year ago. There I had two different Carolina Windoms each supported between 50 and 60 feet in the air by Carolina Pines. I've lived all over the country and this was hands down the best antenna system I have had in 44 years on the air. I had tried a vertical before but did not have the radial system that was really needed.

    I moved to Sun City Arizona last year. The one biggest disappointment was there are no trees to speak of. I do have a twenty some foot Saguaro cactus in my front yard, but I don't think the landlord wants me to use it as a sky-hook.

    I bought a well used Butternut HF-6V from a local ham. We have desert landscaping; no grass, all gravel. I did a lot of research before buying the antenna, much llike you I was tempted with all these no or minimal radial designs until I read a very common sense solution to good radials. Chicken Wire.

    I went to Home Depot and bought two rolls of Chicken Wire (Poultry Netting). I scraped back the gravel and laid out an X centered on the vertical location. The wire is about 35' long, so about 17.5' in each direction. I scraped the gravel back to cover the chicken wire and tuned the vertical.

    I must admit I thought of this as a compromise antenna but no longer do I think that way. I have discovered a previously unknown degree of DX. I was initially using the same radio I had in South Carolina (IC-7000) and with the exception of 80 meters, I believe I hear more now than I did with the windoms. I exclude 80 meters because it is so darned noisy, I can barely hear anything that isn't s7 or greater. I've read that verticals in general are more prone to picking up local noise, and I must say it seems true on 80 meters. It's even worse on 160, but I never operate that band.

    My point is to recommend the Butternut, or any ground mounted vertical that uses radials and try the chicken wire. It gives very good results and is much less tedious than stringing al those radials. I did it as an experiment, to see if the vertical was going to work at all, thinking I would put down a bunch of radials if it seemed worth it. That was over a year ago and I have stayed with the chicken wire.

    BTW, I recently switched radios to an Elecraft K3, the 10 watt version and I now routinely work Australia and New Zealand on 40 meter CW in the early mornings with 10 watts. I'm still using the Butternut HF-6 and chicken wire radials.

    Best of luck on your decision de:rolleyes: Chuck K4SC
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