Macbook Air for scale (not included)

I just received my MPAS Lite from DXEngineering.

Pros:

  • Super quick setup – from start to finish was perhaps 2 minutes for the vertical configuration (oh yeah, this thing can be setup multiple ways)
  • Sturdy – I don’t have any other antenna that has hardware as beefy as this thing is
  • Resonant (!?) – To my complete surprise, though it shouldn’t have been had I read the manual – I got fairly low SWRs on most of the bands I checked, and my x5105 could tune the rest

Cons:

  • Length – The 17′ whip compacts down to about 2 feet or so, which means it sticks out the top of my GR1. I’m trying to figure out how I want to handle packing this thing so that I don’t have the whip get snagged on things, etc. Perhaps bring a bigger pack? Any suggestions?
  • Heavy – This one I’m going to caveat with two points; this thing is sturdy and has few parts, so from a weight perspective it is about on par with the other portable verticals that I own, and given the few parts that need to be kept track of, I don’t think weight is that big of a deal. It probably equals out with my other verticals, but definitely outweighs my dipoles.

We tend to tout the latest rig that costs hundreds or thousands, but frown on any antenna that isn’t made from $6 speaker wire. Speaking as someone who has built <insert insane number here> antennas from all kinds of cheap parts, and found them to be incredibly effective, there is nothing wrong with that. I’m just saying that sometimes investing in all the components of our radio setup is important.

How does it compare to my Buddistick or my Super Antenna MP1? I spend all kinds of time fiddling with both of those when I setup in the yard or field. In all the years I’ve owned my Buddistick, I’ve never been able to get the little mini-banana clips to tune the same way each time. The MP1 has a card that you use to line up the tuner on the coils, but that is ballpark and I still play with it until its good.

This thing is unpack, stick in the ground, unroll 25 feet of counterpoise, hook up the coax (included), and go. Per their manual, and backed up by my SWR meter, it is <2.0 on 30, 20, 17, 15, and 12 meters. It is also (in the vertical configuration) 1.8-1.9 on 40m. The manual says 2.0 – and as you can see I got better than that. The lower bands (60m and lower) are 3.0+.

Bring a tuner for those.

If you go with the end-fed inverted “V” configuration, then the numbers are even better starting out for the lower bands. Some of the upper bands like 17m and 12m do go above 2.0 though, with 40m around 3.0.

This thing solved for the majority of cases where I’m taking my KX3 or my x5105 out to play radio. For my MTR4B v2 or kit builds, I will probably stick with a resonant dipole hung in a tree (no tuners on those).

Did a quick RBN call to check propagation. As you can see below with 5 watts and the MPAS Lite, 929 miles (1490km) to one spot, and 1287 miles (2071km) to another isn’t bad from my backyard. And that is between a chain link fence and our home with aluminum siding.

This is my second Chameleon Antenna product, and I think they’ve hit a sweet spot between portability, durability, and ease of use. These are not built in a garage somewhere, but are made for the harshest conditions and it shows. It comes with a price tag, but consider that you’re investing in something that is made for being used, packed up, used again, packed up again, ……