How about some top-band adventures?

Now that my DX-88 has died again (base element broken) I have been looking for new antenna possibilities. One thought that keeps bugging me is that I have never ever had a QSO on the 160 meter band. Since the days are very short during the Danish winters and sunspot numbers are something you can only dream of these years, I have decided to devote this winter to top-band activities.

My activities have also been close to non-existent on 80, and very little on 40. I am rather unknown on the 30 meters band as weel, mainly due to the lack of success of making the DX-88 resonate properly in this band. Thus, I can summarise my requirements / wishes for the new antenna as follows:

  1. Not too big, e.g. a vertical.
  2. Not too expensive, less than 500 euros desirable.
  3. Cover 160, 80, 40, and 30.

I know it sounds like a dream, but after doing a little research I found the following possibilities:

  1. Build some multiband wire antennas. This would be cheap but rather time consuming considering how little time I will have available. It would also be rather difficult to build an efficient antenna for 160, which does not occupy too much space.
  2. Restore the DX-88 with a new base element. Cheap solution but I don’t know at this point whether other parts of the antenna have been damaged by the storm. Furthermore, this would not bring me on the air on 160.
  3. Butternut HF2V with additional parts for 160 and 30. Rather expensive (670 euros) but it would fulfill the band requirements!
  4. GAP Voyager DX. For 650 euros this would give me 160, 80, 40, and 20. Although I would not have 30 meters it is an interesting alternative having 20 meters for daytime QSOs.
  5. GPM-1500 vertical for 160-10 meters, requiring internal antenna tuner, for about 250 euros.

It is obvious that neither the wire experimenting nor the restored DX-88 is the solution I am looking for. Thus, the choice remains between the HF2V+160+30, the GAP Voyager DX, and the GPM-1500. Lets look at these possibilities a little closer.

Butternut HF2V

This is avery old design and the fact that it is still on the market together with the band coverage makes it very attractive. I have previously used a HF6V and I know that the performace of that one is absaolutely comparable to the DX-88. Since the HF2V is simply a stripped version of the HF6V, and a little taller, it can be expected to perform equally well. On 40 meters the HF2V is a quarter wave, and I don’t think it can get any better than that. I have, of course, considered the HF6V and HF9V with the additional 160 meters extension, but these versions are shorter and the addition of the 160 meters extension has much worse influence than on the HF2V. The only downside of this solution seems to be the very high price.


GAP Voyager DX

No tuning, no traps, center fed vertical specially designed with 160 and 80 meters in mind. Hmmm… Sounds good, but as I look at the pictures I get the impression that it is a very fragile contruction. Its week mechanical structure has also been pointed out by several reviewers at, and for 650 euros I don’t know whether I am ready to take this risk. Moreover, the lack of 30 meters makes this antenna less attractive than the HF2V.



QRV on all bands for 250 euros. This gotta be a joke? Well, maybe not, but I’m sure we all agree that we are talking about a copromise antenna all the way below 20 meters. People say it is ok on 40 meters and above, even possible to make QSO on 160 and 80, but I don’t know; I am looking for something comparable to the DX-88 and this solution seems to be very far away.

Well, I will go and think about it for a few days or weeks. I will also consider the HF9V without 160 meters extension, just to keep my eyes open. I’ll keep you informed.

Author: Alexandru Csete

Embedded software engineer in the satcom industry during the day. Radio amateur and SDR hacker during the night.