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Issue #5 - An Expensive 7-Band Dipole?

Discussion in 'Trials and Errors - Ham Life with an Amateur' started by W7DGJ, Dec 19, 2022.

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  1. K9EI

    K9EI Premium Subscriber QRZ Page


    Thanks for mentioning how expensive this antenna is. A few of us in here think it's ridiculous to spend that kind of $$$ for some PVC, wire, and ferrite cores. What was the total cost to hang this thing? You needed a mast, concrete, guy ropes, LMR400, etc. For us skinny wallet hams, these antennas just don't add up for total cost.

    But since you have it, I'd like to know how it performs on CW, running full-tilt. I wonder how efficient the 6:1 auto-transformer is under full load since it is totally encapsulated in a potting compound.

    K8JHR likes this.
  2. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Matt - People have said this for years about this antenna (the cost) and yet they keep selling them and buyers keep raving about them on review sites like eHam. I would rave about it as well . . . It has incredible performance on CW (and SSB of course) at 1500W in and very low SWR. I use a tuner only when needed, to bring in 15M, and to catch the band edges. I also need to tune the CW section of 80M, as it's at 1.8-2.0 or so. On the "cons" side, the antenna has more of a directional tendency than the antennas I have built and cut for a specific frequency. I will pick up S. America and South Africa much easier than Maine, Iceland, Scandinavia and so on. But the whole idea that you could just buy some wire, PVC, and put one together . . . that's just plain wrong. Sure you could build one, but it would be expensive. It's built - lots of people have tried, and you DON'T end up with a Buckmaster. Dave

    PS - Yes, I bought a DXE Mast, because we don't have trees as people do in other parts of the country. Other than that, it's down on cactus or small trees on the ends and guyed as in any other antenna installation.
    PY2NEA and K9EI like this.
  3. K9EI

    K9EI Premium Subscriber QRZ Page


    Palomar makes and OCF dipole that is less expensive and can handle more power. I bet it would handle the AZ environment just fine. It looks ugly but I bet the "performance" is equal or better to the Buckmaster. It even includes a 1:1 choke to deal with CMC, an important issue with any antenna system. What antennas do you look at before going with the Buckmaster? Did you consider an EFHW?

  4. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Matt, sure I've used zillions of antennas over the years, and regularly use a Chameleon EFHW with my lower output station. I looked at the Palomar site and saw some expensive antennas, in the $200 range, but perhaps not the one you're talking about. I like Palomar products, as they are built well. But I didn't see anything that handles the 3000W PEP that the Buckmaster does. Most of their gear is made for either 500 or 1500W max. I would think that if you are regularly going to run legal limit that you'd want an antenna to be in the 3000W range. Anyway, if they're selling an end-fed that only does 1500W PEP max for $200, than I'll bet their version of an OCF would be more expensive and therefore close to the Buckmaster. Dave (PS added later -- just found the one you are talking about. Looks like a good antenna, and it's on sale. Regularly in the $360 range, now $240. That's a good buy, but seems like they're blowing it out for some reason. Anyway, a "Buckmaster like" antenna at a better price. Thanks for pointing it out Matt.)
  5. K9EI

    K9EI Premium Subscriber QRZ Page


    Here is the link for the antenna I was referring to.
    5kw pep OCF. $219.

    Add 500’ of 14 awg wire from Lowe’s and the price is still cheaper. Sell the extra wire at a hamfest and it gets even cheaper to own. Yes it’s not hang and play, but with a little “ham spirit” and resourcefulness, it doesn’t have to be a pretty antenna.

    WP4KTF likes this.
  6. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hey Matt, some thinking and now I'll post again about this. First off, I think it's great for a ham to build an antenna. For some, that's one joy of the hobby. For another, they just want to get on the air.

    It's hard to compare a balun with a complete pre-made antenna. I expect you could build a well-performing antenna out of the Palomar balun. The Palomar is a 4:1 balun, the BuckMaster is 6:1 balun. With the Palomar you have to buy your own wire, insulator, and crimps. Your 14AWG bare stranded copper is $75-$80 for a 500' spool but that is not the same as the 12AWG tinned stranded copper the Buckmaster uses. 12AWG tinned stranded copper carries more power and is more weatherproof, and it costs $125-$140 for a 500' spool.

    There is a 1.5KW and a 5KW version of the Palomar, the 5KW version is $220 plus the cost of the wire plus the time to obtain the wire, cut the wire, and experiment with getting the lengths how you want them. That can be a lot of raising, testing, lowering, and adjusting. I know that from personal experience. And if you're buying the $220 5KW balun plus $120 for 12AWG tinned copper wire plus insulators and crimps/clamps that almost equals the $374 that the 7-Band 3,000 Watt antenna costs from BuckMaster. So, for just a few bucks more, I got an antenna that's pre-tuned and operational on 7 bands. Seems like a deal to me.

    Performance is where it ultimately counts and that's once again hard to directly compare 1.5KW homebrew vs a 3KW complete vs a 5KW homebrew. They are different baluns to begin with, but also what wire you use with it, how long the legs are, how it is hung, and in what environment would all be factors. The only way to have some idea would be to build the Palomar the best you could, then put it in the air and test it, then put a Buckmaster in the same spot and test it, and compare the data. Too much work for even a columnist like me to experiment with.

    As I said, building an antenna is a good thing for hams to experience if they want to do that. But it will take more time, success is not guaranteed, and might not save any money. Personally, I'm the guy who wants to get on the air! Dave
  7. WP4KTF

    WP4KTF Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hola Dave! Enjoyed the article, as I love to tinker with my wires in the backyard. No Saguaros here, but plenty of prying eyes and an overzealous, letter sending HOA. Little room and no budget for a Buckmaster, but plenty of time to look up and think what to try next. Recently retired and returning to the hobby, I now have plenty of time to experiment. Again, thanks for the ideas and for the great article! 73 Jorge WP4KTF @ SATX
    W7DGJ likes this.
  8. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thank you for being a reader, Jorge. Wish you all the best on your new ham journey, Dave
  9. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hello Readers - Just posting to let you know that I have scheduled an interesting article for April or early May (before Hamvention, for sure). I have another OCF dipole, this one from Palomar Engineers, which will be reviewed and compared to the Buckmaster. My first impressions on this one -- the thing is BUILT LIKE A TANK. I've never seen a piece of field gear with this much protection against the elements. I'm anxious to get it up in the air and I'll come back to this Buckmaster forum and note the new article when it appears. Thanks for reading! Dave, W7DGJ
  10. AA7IS

    AA7IS XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    50 Ohm carbon resistor
    3.750 = 1.00
    7.020 = 1.00
    50.868 = 1.00
    1000.00 =1.01
  11. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I don't understand the post. Could you add a bit of detail? Dave
    PY2NEA likes this.
  12. EI6ITB

    EI6ITB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    In times past I've often slung up a cheap and cheerful dipole or two and they cost next to nothing.
    Recently I decided to make a better job of it and put up one that would stand the test of time and be capable of handling a kilowatt or so.
    By the time I'd sourced all the hardware bits and pieces (and included shipping for stuff that isn't available locally) it was just about on level pegging with buying a ready-made one from Wimo, so that's what I did.
    When the Hari double-sized ZS6BKW arrived, I was reasonably pleased with the quality of contruction, the only thing I'd change would be the centre supporting portion, so I bought a WA1FFL Ladder-Loc to beef it up. I ended up buying two of them, one for the next antenna.
    Even so, the cost of the Hari antenna still came in about half the Buckmaster price, so for that I'd expect the Buckmaster to be indestructible.
    In other words, some of the ready-made antennas give quite good bang for buck.
    Having said that, I've seen a few of them that are badly made horrible value for money, and obviously slung together in an outhouse.
  13. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Good input, thanks. The Buckmaster has withstood the test of time in my yard. It is built like a tank and therefore I have not needed upgrades or detours. There's another OCF I am impressed with, reviewed in a later column. That one by Palomar Engineers. Dave
    EI6ITB likes this.
  14. K2WPM

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    Thanks for this article Dave. Our club has that antenna, built like a tank. At home, I finally took down my 135 foot homebrew OCF. Tens of thousands of contacts, a single-wire antenna design that really works.

    But I'm going back to a fan dipole. I disagree with your suggestion that an OCF dipole is more directional than a dipole. I don't like the pattern of the OCF, which is, roughly, omnidirectional on the bands most of us use.

    See pattern, attached.

    I have a nice North - South orientation, for good East - West broadside here, from Eastern Shore of Virginia.
    With the 1:1 choke at feedpoint, the whole thing cost me $25.
    Made 3,000 contacts the week of 13 Colonies.

    GL and 73,

    David, K2WPM

    Attached Files:

  15. W7DGJ

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    Thanks Dave. Good to see the Smith chart as well, Dave

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