Sunday, 4 May 2014

MQ26-SR. 2 years on.

One of my most read posts on this blog is “Which Antenna” it describes the comparison between 2 antennas. The MA5B and the MQ26-SR. As my readers will know I opted for the MQ26-SR. and 2 years on its only fair I tell you how I have gotten on with the  antenna.

I can hardly believe that 2 years exactly has passed where I hosted an erecting party, to install my new mast, antenna and rotator.  The first year of the antenna was perfect I was able to find the DX weak signals pick them out and get heard over the majority of the European pileups. I had a great deal of fun. The antenna remained unchanged in that first year.

But suddenly over a period of 3 months I found the SWR was changing, and the antenna was becoming more and more deaf on 20m. Something clearly had changed on the antenna. My initial thoughts were water ingress in the Balun. I never really trusted the balun and found the construction of it crude. But in fact the balun was fine. I did however find that every clamp, bracket and connection on the antenna extremely corroded.   “dissimilar metals”   was the culprit.

A huge strip down clean and reassemble job was needed. And so this was completed with the antenna still in place, and although better the antenna still isn’t quite right. It really does need bringing down to earth and cleaning thoroughly and wrapping up in self amalgamating tape.

So 2 years on. What do I think ? the antenna is excellent. But do look closely at the spreader arms, clips and any screw terminal. You may need to buy some new hardware in order to achieve a compatible metal. Have a look at the chart below. For a cross match on metals used to clamp the antenna up. As a guide I had a stainless steel screw, brass washers, clamping an aluminum ring clip. Not a great combination.

Also make sure the clear acrylic tubes do indeed have a place for water to drain from. 2 of mine do not and I have the bottom bracket nearly half full of water at any given time.