Hello Operators. Some of you may have already read my first post on the Super Antenna MP1DXMAX on Survival Technology. Well this is the latest update to that initial post, and prequel to an incoming video on the MP1DXMAX System. This should have been done already, but i’ve been down with some sort of weird flu for a couple of weeks now. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page for my Amazon review)
Today I was outside freezing my fingers while testing the Super Antenna MP1DXMAX. This is an interesting kit which is going to be popular with the high speed, low drag communities. I’ll tell you why as we go along.
The Super Antenna MP1DXMAX is a lightweight, 80-2m compact antenna system designed for today’s (and yesterdays) popular mostly portable or field deployable rigs. A more accurate way to describe it would be 40-2M +80M +60M compact rapid deployment antenna system.
The system includes:
- MP1C 40-6m antenna
- MC80 80m coil
- MC60 60m coil
- MC2 Superplexer
- SW1 Titanium whip
- Carrying case and other accessories
Those are the basics, now I’ll give you the background.
If you’ve been around the blog and YouTube channel for a while, you’ll already know how hard I am on gear. I’m even harder on manufacturers claiming gear is better than what it is. Thankfully, from all the gear reviewed on the channel, there has only been two companies who decided early on, that it was easier to mislead the buyer, than make a better product. The positive result of calling out those companies publicly, was the reluctance of other companies to send me poorly engineered gear for review. This is a good thing!
With all that said, I received this kit as a gift. No money changed hands, and there were no expectations to make anything from it. Still, what’s the point of getting something nice, if you can’t or won’t show it to your friends!? I’m told they appreciate the contributions I make to the amateur radio community through my blog, and YouTube channel. Apparently, those videos showing me freezing my toes up around the Arctic Circle, provide valued entertainment for some of the crew 🙂 In fact, all I was told was “I’m kind of curious how you’d like it!”. I did offer a warning about the weather conditions this far north, at this time of year, and how tough I am on gear, and honestly, they seemed unphased by it. Fair enough! Lets take our first look at the kit.
Why it might be interesting
There are a couple of reasons really, but lets point out what might not be so obvious. In it’s standard configuration, this system allow you to operate any single HF band, AND 2m without switching antennas. It doesn’t matter which HF band 80-10 +6m, +2m, just pick one, then go for it! If you use amateur radio as a utility, you’ll see the usefulness in this.
As I inspected the components, I realised the system looked very familiar. In fact, the system reminds me very much of the Yaesu ATAS-100/120 antenna system, albeit a manually actuated version, and without any of the headaches. Like the Yaesu ATAS, this system also offers the operator the ability to use HF and 2M on a single coax, which is the first interesting bit. A nice example of the usefulness this functionality offers could be field work on HF. Imagine working HF on your FT-817, FT-857, or KX3, while occasionally switching VFO to send out an APRS beacon on 2M, without having to change out an antenna, or having a second radio. This is very much what these radios were designed for.
The second aspect of this system is it’s ultra compact break down size. In one of the above images, that is the entire system in its carrying case, plus my Yaesu FT-817ND, and my DIY QRP battery pack. The leatherman is there to give some reference to the actual size of the case.
What I’m hoping for
I know none of this will matter if in the end, the system is not efficient enough on 80/60/40/30/20, but lets wait until we put it through testing to see just how it works before making any judgement. For the moment, we are going to assume from a performacne perspective, the system is as good as the HF Pack Antenna shootout says it is, allowing me to focus on “Why would we want another short antenna in the toolbox for HF?”
I understand some of you don’t like ads on the site. Just remember the ads are here so you don’t have to pay for the thousands of hours I put in to creating content. If you would like to buy the MP1DXMAX through Amazon, by all means use my link, if not, please don’t be bothered by it.
My hope for this system is in ultra portable deployments. Deployments where space & weight is limited, and one seriously needs to think about what can or can’t be packed. Certainy not going to replace a full sized resonent antenna system, but an option which won’t take up too much space, won’t weigh more than the rest of my gear, will allow me work the CW, Phone and digital modes with FLDigi or AndFLmsg, plus digital comms on VHF e.g. APRS without changing antennas or using a seperate radio. THIS MEANS LESS GEAR!
Totally unfair WSPR test
In the following image, you see a 12 hours test carried out using WSPR with the MP1DXMAX indoor next to a window for kicks and giggles. Naturally RX for weak signals was down, but there were station to station contacts througout Scandinavia and Europe. As expected NVIS range station were missing.
Although completely unfair, this type of test is not without merit. There are many of us who want to take amateur radio along on a business trip, from a hotel room, in a less than perfect location where you have zero chance of deploying a large but less practical antenna. I know, someone is mumbling there is the background (use a magloop stupid). Generally I would, but if you need a 300w rating, this could be an alternative to not getting on air at all. I’ll update the WSPR tests with field results as time goes on.
My Amazon review of the
Super Antenna MP1DXMAX
I’ve had the Super Antenna MP1DXMAX on the bench for just over a month now. Initial impressions were Good, Good Good! Build quality is excellent, packaging excellent, Documentation is excellent.
Key features critical to this products success:
– Incredibly small break down size.
– Incredibly light weight.
– Simultaneously use any HF band and 2M on the same coax, or use two radios (1 HF rig, 1 VHF rig) with a duplexer, into this antenna.
Performance is about what you would expect for a shortened vertical which is generally about an s-unit down on a dipole in an inverted-V configuration at 3.5 meters height.. Of course you don’t have to deploy this into a tree, carry a heavy tripod, use a slingshot to deploy it… The point is every antenna system has its up sides and down sides. The system gets you on 80-2M with a system that wont break if it falls down, has no expensive replacement parts to replace, and has a very good take off angle for regional to dx comms.
Now with all the good, there is one thing which I believe the manufacturer ignored. The counterpoise system is the Achilles heel! If you’re deploying in cold weather, the wires will get tangled. On three attempts I had exactly the same result, even when taking care about wrapping the wires neatly. So my opinion is “If a product costs 300-400$, and solving the tangling problem is as easy as including a blasted 5/10$ wire feeder, then “include the wire feeder!”. I bought a 5$ wire feeder/winder and all the tangling wire issues are gone. I would also like to see the labels for the wires already attached, but really that’s almost not worth mentioning.
I ran a WSPR test with this antenna and as mentioned earlier, found regional and DX performance to be better than expected. It was not as good as an elevated dipole or endfed @ 12 meters height, but it did outperform my Alpha EZ Military during a side by side WSPR comparison on 40 meters. (Will make comparisons to other systems later on).
Digital comms were excellent with the MP1DXMAX as bandwidth was wide enough that I could easily work different digital modes on a single band without a retune. That’s also true for CW and SSB, but I mostly work digital.
Honestly, so far so good. Like my other reviews, i’ll come back and update this as time goes on.
Someone put lots of thought into this antenna. Its not perfect, but it is as close to perfect as you’re gonna get for something this compact and light weight, if those things are important to you.
Packaging, labels and documentation
To my surprise the kit was very well packaged, well labeled, and well documented. Each piece of kit was packaged seperately, and had it’s own label and instructions. I’ve only seen this level of care taken during packaging twice before. Both Mobilinkd LLC, and Chameleon Antenna. In both of those cases, those products became stapels of the channel and blog.
I’ve got to finish up the DIY magloop build video, then we can come back to the Super Antenna with a Ham Radio Rapid Deployment Simulation video for the MP1DXMAX. Also more WSPR testing, comparisons, and results.