>I'm planning on putting up a Bencher Skyhawk Tribander along with their
>Skylark 17/12 meter beam, so if you have either one of those antennas, I
>would appreciate hearing your thoughts on performance and reliability.
I used a Skyhawk for a few years, purchased it essentially on the K7LXC
tribander comparison report. That publication is worth the read if you are in
the market for a new tribander, although it was done a while ago and does not
include the SteppIr. I lost my Skyhawk to an ice storm; the boom broke.
Although Bencher makes much of the beam not needing a boom truss, clearly mine
did. Also, the elements appeared to be undersized. They took on a permanent
"set" at the last taper. Electrically the beam worked extremely well, but I
replaced it with a 3 El SteppIr / 40 meter option/ which is vastly more
convenient, but has its own reliability issues.
Note that the ice storm which dropped my Skyhawk spared my good friend AB9M's
TH7 - he is about 1/2 mile away. I also have a next door neighbor, Ray, K9XL,
whose Cushcraft tribander had no damage. Mine was the only beam in the
Bloomington/Normal area which suffered damage in the ice storm, so I do believe
it is under engineered for high wind and ice. As a point of comparizon, I had
a Cushcraft WARC dipole 8 feet above the Bencher. I think most people would
describe that antenna as wimpy; I certainly do. It had a slight bend at the
center insulator, but survived the storm in better shape than my Skyhawk. Note
that Bencher rates the antanna for 90 mph, no mention of ice. I might be very
long lived in a less rigorous environment.
I really appreciated the double boom to mast plate. It makes it very easy to
slip the antenna onto the mast. I would also give high marks to the the all
stainless and riveted construction.
I have mixed emotions about the wind compensating plates. They might have
collected anough ice to overstress the boom.
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