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Equipment for portable HF operations

(Trans)portable HF antennas (III)

In the second table displayed below, I have listed larger antennas, mostly designed for a semi-permanent installation or a field activity, that you are alone or in group. All models meet our requirements and enter into our scope even if some look large.

First requisit, most of these antennas display a higher gain that dipoles or verticals, and are therefore very appreciated by DXers. Only drawback it is often paid by the size. The best are of course bulky displaying a wingspan that can reach 10 meters for wire beams.

Plus side, many of them offer a lightweight below 10 kg, a load that each of us can lift without much problem (as we said it is equivalent to a 8-10 m long aluminium ladder) and that can be supported by a relatively light mast, even a large pole with guy wires, hence their selection in this category.

Some models however are heavier (14-17 kg) what is at the limit of the weight that an amateur alone can lift. If some quads or wire beams can still be assembled and erected on a mast fixed at ground level by one person (working some hours for the first assembly), its installation with a rotator ontop of a pylon or on a sloping roof should require between two and four persons for security reasons.

Three examples of antennas at the limit of portability requiring some assistance to be attached on top of a mast. At left, a 5-bander Titanex LP5 log-periodic beam after assembling of the 25 elements. Its wingspan reaches 10.3 m and its weight is 9 kg. At center, a triband HF beam with traps used during the US Field Day 2014 by the Wisconsin Valley Radio Association. At right, the assembling of a Degen Baby Boomer BBQ 101520 quad. It comes pre-tuned and pre-strung. If you are used to assemble/disassemble it you can erect it alone in about 20 minutes. But this picture is misleading, because like all quads, even shortened, the BBQ is bulky and its weight is close to 17 kg. Documents ON4AGP, KB9VBR/JPole Antenna and Degen.

Why have selected these "monsters" for portable operations, do you wonder ? Sometimes, on holiday or when participating to Field Days and other CQ WW activities, a simple dipole or a short vertical does not allow you to get high scores or to contact far DX stations due to a poor gain and radiation pattern.

You can also be on the spot for a few days or weeks and if you are considered as one among the "most wanted DX" and want to give points to amateurs, you have to be on the air as often as possible during this short period. In these special occasions a true vertical (cut at least at 1/2λ or at 5/8λ) or a directional antenna showing a very low takeoff angle (5-15) is very appreciated, all the more if it is light, cheap or easy to install.

At last, purists will say that an antenna equipped with traps is not more performing and loses power. Indeed, a trap inserted on an antenna reduces the power between 0.003-0.005 dB on 28.6 MHz and between 0.4 and 1.5 dB on 7.15 MHz. With 2 traps on 40m, you lose up to 3 dB or 50% of your power !

In the field, we observe that the radiation efficiency can drop of 30% using only one trap of large size (but I will not extend on this matter as they are many ways to build traps).

But between you and me what is the best solution ? Working with a dipole or a vertical without trap or with a beam equipped with 2 traps to reduce a little its wingspan ? Of course one will always select the beam for its directivity and higher gain. Therefore, all antennas listed below satisfy to at least one of the previous critera.

If you work alone and have some times left, each of these models can be assembled in half a day or quicker in following strictly the instruction manual. But do no expect to dismantle them as easily and as fast as antennas displayed in the previous selection as some of them require the assembling of 25 segments (e.g. the 5-element Titanex log-periodic) ! These antennas have to be considered as trans-portable models rather than portables, so in other words for semi-permanent installations at a few exceptions for the shortest or lightest models. The shade is of importance.

Here is my selection. A summary is available in this Excel sheet and here is the XE currency converter. Unless I wrote the contrary, remember that all gain values are those from the manufacturer and are subject to correction...up to 2 dB less than the value listed.

(Trans)portable HF antennas






It is an electrical antenna, a 1/2λ-dipole designed in spiral to drastically reduce its size both horizontally and vertically.

The Tak-Tenna is available in 4 models : 75/80m, 40m, 20m and 10m directly fed with 50 ohm coax.

The boom of the 40m and 80m models are respectively 76 cm (30") and 1.22m (48") long with a spiral of 75 cm and 1 m in diameter, and the weigth of the antenna is 2.3 kg and 3.2 kg.

The model cut for 40m is a multibander that can also be used on 40, 30, 20, 15 and 10m with an additional antenna tuner. Tests performed by N4UJW were also successful on 17m band.

The 75/80m model can be tuned up to 6m with an antenna tuner.

The SWR can reach 1.5:1 on 40m according to K6SGH, and other customers underline they got the antenna resonance at ground level.

The assembly time is about 45 minutes for the 40 multibander and about 90 minutes for the 80 multiband model.

The Tak-Tenna was successfully tested up to 1 kW in SSB and 1.4 kW in CW, and supports wind gusts up to 120 km/h (75 mph).

The signal improves between 10-14 dB in transmit with a 90 rotation (or F/S ratio), increasing the horizontal directivity over 2 S-units. So, it works like a directional dipole. Most users have erected this antenna at low heights (3-6 m above ground) and report a good directivity.

The price is $278 for the 40m model and $364 for the 80m model plus $18 for a delivery in the U.S.A. and between $50-110 to Europe depending on the model and the country.



This delta loop is a directional wire antenna designed by M0PLK. It shows a profile practically as thin as a double vertical mast. Its weight is not listed but it is probably below 5 kg.

It is a multiband antenna cut for 30-20-15-12-10 meters. It is non-resonant by design, thus requires an antenna tuner. We can use it on 20m and even on 80m with an antenna tuner.

Its wingspan (the longest horizontal wire segment on top) is 5.8m with rods (on the side) of 5.6m long.

Depending on the model and the balun used, its sustains between 150 W and 2 kW SSB between 10-50 MHz.

This delta loop uses an improved BalUn 4:1, a low loss ladder line, it shows a better isolation than the previous model, and is waterproofed.

It already gives a low SWR set up 3 meters above ground level at the feed point.

As all quads or delta loops, it displays a low radiation angle and is particulary adapted for portable operations.

Like all single element delta loops, this model shows a symmetrical radiation pattern (F/B = 0 dB). Set 5m above ground, the antenna gain is 8.42 dBi on 28.500 MHz (elevation angle of 18.3, azimut angle of 120) and 4.9 dBi on 14.150 MHz (elevation angle of 43.4, azimut angle of 120). 

It is delivered with the ladder line, the main loop wire, aluminium telescopic rods and the matching transformer (without guying system). Some elements are preassembled.

The price is 220 plus tax and delivery to Ham Radio Shop. It is no more sold since 2020.

Antenna D2T


The D2T is manufactured by GIOVANNINI Elettromeccanica. It is the first wire beam antenna offering a continous coverage between 1.5 and 200 MHz at my knowledge.

In SSB the D2T supports 1kW PEP in HF and up to 500W PEP in VHF.

DT2 displays a boom 2m long, the longest element is 6m long that can colapse for transport in segments 1 m long only. Its weight is 8 kg.

Is is an hybrid between a dipole and a 2-element Yagi, constituted of two dipoles folden fed and dephased by 180, fed with 50-ohm coax. Its mean SWR is 1.5:1.

According to DM2BLE this directive antenna offers a gain up to 1.7 dBd on 10 meters with a F/B ratio of 5 dB and a F/S ratio of 20 dB. However on 20 meters this antenna appeared to perform similar to a dipole (0.3 dBd) or the HF5B beam described below. Its gain declines as the frequency decreases but where it continues to show a very low radiation angle. In lower bands its main competitor is the full length G5RV-E or the GAP VI vertical.

In VHF it performs quite well, showing a 6-lobes radiation pattern.

Cushcraft MA5-B


The Cushcraft beam model MA5-B is a new concept, designed for amateurs wishing to work in limited space.

This shorten Yagi is a true 5 bander which weight is only 12 kg that can be easily driven by a mid-range rotator. It cover bands from 20 to 10m including WARC, handling a power of 1.2kW PEP in SSB.

The boom length is 2.2m and the longest element is 5.2m long. It is made of elements from 0.2  to 2.1m long. Longer X-hat rods measure about 1m long.

According to DM2BLE, this beam displays a 3.9 dBd on 20m and 3.6 dBd on 10m, showing on WARC bands a gain similar to the one of a dipole (~0 dBd). Its F/B ratio reaches 22 dB on 20m and falls down to 10 dB on 10m. Its F/S ratio is 25 dB.

Plus side the hardware is made of stainless steel and heavy aluminium, the assembly manual is very well written, as usual, and its price is very competitive.

MA5-B is sold by MFJ Enterprises and WiMo.

Hy-Gain AV-640 HF


The Hy-Gain V-640 Patriot HF vertical is one of the best multiband vertical available today in terms of performance, size and price.

Its height is 7.77 m and its weight is 8 kg and supports up to 1500 W.

The AV-640 uses 1/4λ stubs on 6, 10, 12, and 17 meters and efficient end loading coil and capacity hats on 15, 20, 30, 40 meters. Instead of typical lossy can traps, the AV-640 resonators are placed in parallel rather than in series. End loading of the lower HF bands allows efficient operation with a manageable antenna height.

Among its advantages, the AV-640 does no need a ground or radials, the bandswitching is automatic with a wide VSWR bandwith on each band up to 2:1, it is sleek with a low profile, it can survive to gusts up to 128 km/h, and it is built to last.

Sold by many dealers, including MFJ Enterprises and WiMo.

Cushcraft R8


The Cushcraft R8 is one among the very few 8-banders covering from 40 to 6m, WARC included, reason for which I selected it among the many performing verticals.

It is 8.7m high, cut at 1/4λ and its weight is 10.5 kg. According to DM2BLE it offers a gain of -0.43 dBd (1.71 dBi) on 20m with two opposites and directional radiation lobes. Among all Cushcraft R series of antennas, R8 displays the best gain.

R8 uses two kinds or radials and counterpoises which once installed are not always easy to dismantle. It performs very well placed 10m high and is able to work any pile-up barefoot in CW. It supports an emitting power up to 1.5 kW PEP in SSB.

Minus side, once placed on a mast or a pylon, due to its weight it is not easy to get it down without help. Thus to reserve for a semi-permanent installation, and to secure with guy wires.

Its best competitors are Hy-Gain AV-640 and GAP TITAN DX that show similar performances. Butternut, Diamond or Hustler come a few dB behind. Titanex is unfortunately out of our scope, its verticals being dedicated to low bands (160, 80 and 40m), for permanent or portable installations.

Sold by many dealers, including MFJ Enterprises.

Butternut HF5B Butterfly


Butternut model HF5B is probably the shortest five-band beam available on the market, covering bands from 20 to 10m including WARC at 1.2 kW PEP in SSB. It has been designed for hams working in a limited space.

This is a 2-element beam offering a wingspan of 3.8m, vertical spreaders 1.8m long and a boom 1.8m long. Its weight is only 10 kg and it can be driven by the smallest TV rotor you can find.

Its gain is 3 dBd on 20m and up to 5 dBd on all other bands except 17 m where it acts as a rotary dipole. Its F/B ratio reaches 20 dB and the F/S is 25 dB. It displays a SWR below 2:1 for a bandwidth less than 200 kHz.

Minus side wires are not coated with UV resistant insulation and should be replaced.

Note that antenna is light enough to support a TV rotator.

HF5B is sold by DX Engineering (USA), RadioWorld (UK) or Funktechnik (CH). Several dealers have no more stock.


C$ 945

TGM is a canadian company specialized in compact hybrid quad antennas. Among the various models offered, there is the MQ-36SR, a 6-bander operating in bands from 20 to 6m, WARC included, supporting 1.2 kW PEP in SSB.

Materials used are 6061/T6 aluminium, stainless steel, Lexan and G12 fiber-glass coils, what explains its weight quite important of about 13 kg. Drawback, due to its weight this model requests at least a medium rotator and a robust mast.

This hybrid MQ-36SR quad is made of 3 elements 3.6m long each; the boom is 4.3m long with the reflector, this latter measuring 1.21m high.

Its gain is substantial, ranging from 6 dBd on 20m to 7 dBd on upper bands, with a F/B ratio from 15 to 20 dB and a F/S ratio of 25 dB. The bandwidth is quite narrow, with a mean SWR of 1.2:1 that exceeds easily 2.0:1 at the end of the band.

Excepted its high price, this antenna is one of my favorites, both by its performances and sizing. Like all beams, to preserve its performance install it at least 10m over the ground.

This model was available in Europe to RadioWorld (UK) but is out of stock.

Mosley beam TA-33-JR-N WARC


After the Mosley MINI-33 tribander) the most interesting five-bander Mosley beam is the TA-33-JRN-WARC model. This is 4-element beam with traps completed with a dipole to cover from 20 to 10m including WARC bands. It supports 1.2 kW PEP in SSB.

The weight of this beam is in the average, 13 kg, with a boom 3.7m long, the largest element measuring 8.3m, with a mast diameter of 38 mm. Due to its weight and to support the windload, this beam requests a medium to heavy rotator. It can be supported by a robust mast or better, a small pylon. So minus side, this beam is more suited to a semi-permanent installation or a small DXpedition than an portable operation.

According to DM2BLE, this beam offers an excellent gain, from 4.5 dBd on 20m to 6 dBd on 10m with a F/B ratio of 20 dB. On WARC bands this beam acts like a dipole with this advantage to be directive.

Minus side, this mid-range beam is quite wide and expensive compared to its competitors, and the waiting delay can reach 4 months ! Plus side, Mosley has a huge stock of spare parts and has dealers in most countries.

Download the TA-33 Jr assembly manual.

Light Beam Antenna & Apparatus


Light Beam antennas are based on Moxon design that has been computer optimized to offer a maximum performance at only 10m above ground.

The manufacturer sells monobands quads (e.g. model LBP-20M or LB-20M) or dual band quads (model LBM-17M+20M).

The 2-element quad uses 4 elements, two of which being active on each band, 20m and 17m bands. It displays half the width of a classic quad and the quarter of a classic Yagi.

This quad is made of polycarbonate (plastic). Its structure is thus practically transparent as light can pass through, improving its relative low profile compared to metal quads or beams.

The elements of LBM-17M+20M show a width of 7.7m, the boom is 3.7 m long with a turning radius of 4.21m.

Its weight is 14.6 kg, probably one of the lightest quad on the market.

This quad displays a formard gain of 9.36 dBi and a F/B ratio of 18.09 dBd. The major lobe elevation is 28.9.

It shows a broad 50 ohms impedance, supports up to 1.5 kW and does not use traps. It doesn't require antenna tuner either. Only a Balun is needed and only one coaxial is used to feed the antenna. It shows a SWR ratio <2:0:1 on the entire band of 20 and 17 m (one can reach 1.2:1 in the mid of band).

Prices range between $350 for the Light Beam LB-10 M and $750 for the Light Beam Plus LBP-20M.

Cubex Starmaster / MK II PT3


Cubex sell quad antennas since 1960, token of serious. Among their different models, name the "Starmaster" kits that allow amateurs to reduce the price of their antenna.

In the field, DM2BLE measured a gain of about 5 dBd on all bands with a F/B ratio between 20-25 dB and a beam width of 60. Some users experienced difficulties to get a low SWR on WARC bands.

Spreaders are made of fiberglass while the boom 2.4m long for 2" dia. is made of aluminium. Its overall weight is 14.5 kg for a turning radius of 3m.

Delivered in kit, Starmaster series is Cubex "do-it-yourself" solution suited to Field Days or portable operations, preferably in group (even well-built, you will have difficulties to erect it alone). In this kit version, telescopic fiberglass arms must be pierced and wires cut at the required dimensions. All these specs are well explained in the manual (available in English or French).

Unfortunately some models are out of stock for a while, and there is no restocking.

In Europe, Cubex antennas are available to Zenith Antennes (F) and there is no more stock to WiMo (D).

Degen BBQ 101520


Degen is a canadian company that sells innovative antenna solutions like compact quads and stacked Vwaves (beams which elements are in V-shape).

The Baby Boomer Quad, BBQ for short, is a multi-band 2-element shortened quad displaying a wingspan of about 3.4m per side. It is made of aluminium, fiberglass, 14 gauge tinned Flexweave wire, heavy duty eyelets and stainless steel electrical connexions. Wires are pre-tuned and pre-strung. Its weight is quite high, 17 kg, what requires a medium rotator, but hopefully it can be erected by one person once you are used to assemble/disassemble it. Degen's installation manuals will give you a better understanding of the assembly of their antennas.

BBQ is designed from factory to operate on 20, 15 and 10m only. Its gain is 4.1 dBd on 20m, 4 dBd on 15m and 3.6 dBd on 10m (and up to 8.9 dBd erected 15m high), with a F/B ratio of respectively 12, 26 and 18 dB. On 12 and 17m it offers also some gain with an excellent F/B ratio. Connected to an external antenna tuner (only) it is able to cover all bands from 160 to 6m, where it acts like a dipole, with the advantage to be directive. Its maximum power is 1.5 kW PEP in SSB. Drawback of it shortened design, at the end of each band the SWR is between 2.8:1 and 3.2:1.

BBQ is less performing than a full size quad and is on par with wire beams. However, like all quads, you can install it quite low over the ground and still have a good takeoff angle, what you cannot get with a beam.

The DX Option allows the antenna to be shipped in a shorter and bulkier package (better for airline transport), other than that it is the same antenna (add $130).

K4KIO Hexagonal beam


Traffie tech., the manufacturer of the "Hex-beam" closed down production in May 2015. In the meantime he inspired many manufacturers. Among them K4KIO and G3TXQ.

K4KIO hexagonal wired beam is a bit shorter than a quad with a height from the base to the top of 1m (39"), a turning radius of 3.3m (10.8 ft) and a diameter of 6.5m (21.6f) on 20m band. 

The hexagonal beam is designed to work between 20-10m + 6/2m in option. It is suited for permanent or portable operations.

Mono-band elements yield a gain of about 4 dBd with a F/B ratio exceeding 20 dB. Based on the Hex-beam figures, it should shows an excellent rejection of QRM, a lesser sensitivity to fading and better signal reports than a delta loop.

Made of spreaders in fiberglass with support cords in Kevlar UV resistant, and some parts in aluminum and stainless steel, the weight of this beam is 11.3 kg.

The Hexagonal beam is delivered from factory as a 5 bander with 2 elements per band but can be delivered as monoband as well.

Currently the KIO Hexbeam 20 m is out of stock.

DF4SA's Spider beam


Cornelius, alias DF4SA sells this wire beam in kit for a very affordable price compared to other commercial models. This is the first reason for which I included it in this review. This is a real 3 bander, 20-15-10m beam using respectively 3, 3 and 4 aluminium elements placed in V along the boom.

The weight of this beam is about 5.5 kg. It offers a gain of 4.3 dBd on 20m and a F/B ratio over 17.8 dB.

Minus side, the wingspan of this antenna is huge, 10m, and it requires some hours to be assembled. So I see better this huge wire beam in a semi-permanent installation than in the field for a one day shot.

The price depends on the model. A heavy duty model costs 439 and a 5-band heavy duty model costs 459.

Titanex LP5


Thanks to new technologies, Titanex in Germany is specialized in ultra light but resistant antennas made of titanium, verticals, beams, quads, log periodics, and rotary dipoles without to forget some tilting towers.

LP5 is 5 bander log periodic covering 20-10m which weight is less than 9 kg. Note that the DLP-11L model (11 elements, lighter model, 890 covers bands from 40 to 10m.

LP5 is a 5 elements displaying a wingspan rather huge of 10.3m and a boom diameter of 40 mm ! The windload is about 50 kg under windspeed reaching 120 km/h.

Able to support a power of 5 kW PEP, according to DM2BLE this log periodic offers a gain from 2 to 3.1 dBd, and a F/B ratio of 15-20 dB.

Since 2014, the LP5 model is no more produced. There are several other models like TS5 (5 bands, 11 elements at 1985 ) or TB 7S (7 bands, 4 elements at 962 ).

Support and servicing

At last, do not forget that any (trans)portable antenna will not support long time the stress of being regularly disassembled and reassembled... Most screws, U-bolts, clamps, guy colars, clips or small parts that you often handle have chance to loose their profile or to break if they are made of light material, and you will have maybe to return them for servicing or to replace them after a while. So select well your material not only for its performances but also for the quality of its smallest parts that, like a sand grain in your gearing can grip all your system...

If a handyman can easily find spare parts in any Do-it-yourself shop or make them from scrach using pieces of galvanized aluminium, screw and bolts, I suggest to the casual amateur to buy some spare parts from the manufacturer when you order your antenna (hopefully most provide them).

You should also coat all unprotected accessories made of steel or aluminium not galvanized before assembly (I think to U-bolts, turn-buckles, etc) and to place grease on all screw pitches as well as at the ends of segments that might be disassembled to avoid some bad surprises the day you will try to dismantle them (mainly in tropical and wet countries). Replace at the same time all ordinary wires (including your guy-wires) with cables protected with a PVC jacket and UV resistant. These are not high expenses (maybe 100 ) and they will prevent your material to get rusty after a few years.

Generally speaking, the servicing and support offered by the company that you have selected is very important, all the more that you ignore usually its quality at purchase, except in reading some reviews. So think twice about it before ordering material abroad or to a dealer that nobody knows yet.

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