One of the things I always wanted to get was my own FM Yagi beam antenna. Living in apartments for a while made that prospect difficult. Thankfully, while I live in an HOA controlled neighborhood, they don't seem to be too fed up with my little antenna farm I have in my backyard (at least not yet). So, I decided to give it a go and get a 4-element FM beam from Amazon. Just in time for me to get it in the air for a what I hope to be a weekend of DX, it has arrived!
This beam is from Stellar Labs and is currently $42.99 USD on Amazon. The price point may make the antenna seem a bit of a throwaway, considering most FM Yagis on the market today worth putting in the air are in the $150+ range. However, this one has been getting some good reviews, including from DXers. Combined with free shipping, I had to pull the trigger and at least give it a shot, right?
Up to now this season, I have been using a 3-element Buddipole beam I put together, which is essentially a shortened version of the 6-meter beam I have been using for the past few Es seasons here in Charleston to work into Europe and South America on 6-meters. However, I still want to work into Europe and South America on 6-meters.AND be able to DX FM when it is open too. I don't like being pigeonholed into choosing my DX!
So far this season i have had one good Tropo opening, at the end of March, and that is about it. I did see in early-mid April some were reporting Es openings on the East Coast of the US, but I must have missed them because by the time I got to the shack, the band was dead. As I type this post, I am watching the MUF sit idle in my neck of the woods.
I have put together a little video that shows the install of the antenna in the back yard and some of the domestic engineering I had to use to make it work. I had a run of quadshield RG6 on hand already, so I just needed a cox run to get it in the shack, and then some sort of vertical support for it to sit on. Luckily I had an old 12-foot painter's pole in the garage that I hadn't used in a couple of years. It was originally purchased to be used for ocean-side amateur radio operations but it was a little too wobbly for that application.
I was able to stabilize the pole for use with this FM beam by repurposing some old bricks I had laying around, sticking the pole handle into the holes of the bricks to provide base support. I then took an old sawed-off piece of antenna mast from another project and stuck it through the hole on the other side and drove that into the ground to provide additional support. Finally, a hose clamp was used as a tie-point for paracord guy ropes twhich ran to tent stakes and provided horizontal support.
Finally, I repurposed an old coax run, since I am out of inputs on my window panel for coax runs (time to upgrade!) that was originally used for a 2-meter ground plane vertical for amateur radio use. I ran that to my RG6, added a few adapters and we are good to go!
I can already report that this antenna has provided a boost to my deadband reception. Without any tropo, I can now get fringe reception into Savannah/South Georgia which I had not been able to do up to this point. That is about 80-90 miles away, not too shabby! Will continue to provide updates on how it performs during summer DX season!
On a side note, during our little Tropo opening at the end of March, I had a chance to finally test out my XHDATA D-808 during open FM band conditions and I have to say, I was very impressed! It performed very well, even pulling in signals a bit better than my RSPdx SDR did with the Buddipole beam! To say I was surprised is an understatement. Some of the stations I was able to pull in during that event, were (all times Eastern Daylight TIme)
3/29/20 - 01:10 - 103.1 - WIRK - Indiantown, FL - "New Country 103.1" ID after local advertisements
3/29/20 - 01:20 - 102.9 - WEZI - Jacksonville, FL - Maroon 5, to "Easy 102.9" ID, then to Queen
3/29/20 - 01:25 - 99.1 - WEDR - Miami, FL - Several "99 Jams" IDs and "Miami's #1 for hip-hop and R&B." Mentions of Broward and other local counties. Recorded Aircheck
3/29/20 - 01:50 - 97.3 - WMNX - Wilmington, NC - "Coast 97.3" ID to hit music.
3/29/20 - 02:20 - 95.7 - WQPW - Valdosta, GA - "95.7 The Mix" ID to The Commodores
3/29/20 - 02:30 - 94.9 - WZTU - Miami, FL - With a Spanish version of Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me". then IDed as "Tu Noventa y quatro y nueve" a few times. Recorded aircheck
3/29/20 - 02:40 - 93.9 - WMIA - Miami, FL - "93.9 MIA" ID with mentions in promo for playing the station on Alexa. Then to Michael Jackson.
3/29/20 - 02:55 - 93.5 - WFDZ - Perry, FL - C&W mx, "Froggy 93" ID then full legal ID Recorded aircheck
Until next time, 73 and best of DX!