The recent discussions about the reliability and quality of antennas and
rotators is really interesting. After 20+ years of building contest
stations, I can say, without fear of contradiction, that we've been
sold a lot of junk and peddled a lot of mis-information. After having
had failures with Hy-gain, Telrex, KLM and Mosley antennas, each of
the manufacturers would tell me that "if they built them to last,
we couldn't afford them." Those of us who used commercial antennas
lived with that crap, for years. Others, who built their own antennas,
demonstrated that the claims by the manufacturers were false, but they
just weren't listening to the customers. I have personally lost five (5)
KLM 40 meter beams, and parts of a few others.
Rotors are quite the same story. There's nobody home at the think tanks
where rotors are dreamed up. Either they are mostly incompetent, or they
do not actually use their own products. At one time I had eleven (11)
HAM-Series rotators. Eight were in the air and the other three always
on their way back and forth for rebuilding.
When we started the K5XI project, we wanted a 10 year useful life for
the antennas and rotators. We did a great deal of research and, often,
it seemed that this goal was a dream. I'm still not sure that this goal
is attainable because even the best of the hardware we have put together
has some fininte limitations, but people like DX Engineering refuse
to peddle the idea that "we can't afford a reliable antenna." We've just
put up nine of their yagis and, so far, confidence is high. The materials
and the construction methods are the best I've seen and the price is not
out of line.
As far as reliable rotators, the Create RC5A-3 and RC5B-3 are the best
built and most reliable I have found. We've scrapped the HDR-300, the
T2X 's are ok for the WARC beam and 2 meter antenna, the EMO-1200 is not
far behind the Create, but the indicator resolution is questionable.
I have been in contact with three contesters who are having nightmares
with the Orion's. The TIC rings are too new, but confidence is high.
In the May/June NCJ, there will be a survey about rotators. Maybe we can
get some more info and determine long term reliability a little more
scientifically. None of the K5XI stuff has been up long enough to
In the meantime, be wary of what you erect!
73 and DX,