Andrew wrote, in part:
I'm planning to start with a tribander, and stack a 2 element 40m beam in a
year or two. The two tribanders that I'm mostly considering are the
F12 C-19XR and the Bencher Skyhawk. It seems to me that the Skyhawk probably
has the performance edge, and is possibly more sturdily constructed. The
C-19XR has the benefit of reduced weight, which means I can still stack a 2
el 40m Yagi and stay more or less within the limits of a Yaesu G-1000DXC
rotator (the 240 V version of the G-1000DXA).
Although I can turn the Skyhawk by itself with the G-1000DXC, I would need a
G-2800DXC or similar to stack the 40m beam. The other advantage of the
C-19XR is that I believe one can use 3 feedlines with it, allowing
single-operator-two-radio or multi-op-two-radio contesting with the
appropriate antenna switches and filters.
Having antennas from both manufacturers sitting on the ground here, I think
I can address your questions. (I moved and am in the process of putting up
towers and stacked Yagis.) Since I'm going to stack 4-element SteppIRs, I
need to sell the other Yagis. (I still can't bring myself to part with the
Skyhawk because I am so impressed with it.)
There is no question that the Skyhawk is by far the more robust antenna
physically, and reports are that its performance is consistent. The
components are rugged and well machined. I especially like the new feed
system, which uses formed aluminum straps. When I ordered my Skyhawk, it
arrived in about a week, although I was told to expect six weeks at best.
(What a pleasant surprise!)
On the other hand, many people use one of the F-12 products. They are more
light weight but engineered to stand up in wind by flexing the elements.
The open sleeve feed system can be fussy, and the linear loading is both
fussy and a structural weakness. (I used to live in Wyoming, where we had
sustained winds of 100+ km/hr.)
Two other options you might consider are the SteppIR or OptiBeam antennas.
If you trust new technology, the SteppIR is the way to go. (Obviously, I
do.) The performance, however, is balanced by the complexity of the control
system and the inability to work more than one band at a time, as with the
The OptiBeam antennas are more traditional designs, and they are built to
last. (I don't know if Mercedes trucks are as stout, but that's the best
comparison I can think of.) I've got an OB 4030 that will go up 33 m. It
weighs 40 kg and is the stoutest construction I have ever seen in an amateur
Yagi. (Shipping may be more reasonable from DL than from the US.)
One other consideration that just came to mind is that of parts. Except for
the OptiBeam antennas, all the others use English-system parts. I know that
trying to obtain metric tubing in the US can be a major problem.
Also, I would check the comments on lists (especially TowerTalk) and the
admittedly biased review on eHam. Problems with user support are another
factor to take into account.
Good luck with your project.
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