The good, the bad, the Buddistick

For those who follow my blog for some time, probably already have an idea that I am really interested in a QRO capable portable vertical antenna. So, last few months I was busy rebuilding a Buddistick type of antenna but I was not able to replicate a usable system for tapping the loading coil. I have to admit, BuddiPole did a clever job with those screw-on coil taps.

Buddipole, here, take my money. I lost the battle, after hours and hours of 3d printing and tinkering.

Buddistick

What is the Buddistick?

The Buddipole™For those who are not familiar with Buddistick or Buddipole, Buddipole is a company situated in USA, producing hamradio equipment. Their trademark is the Buddipole. It’s a “portable” dipole consisting of two coil loaded legs and whip antennas as the radiator. So basically, two Buddisticks connected to a centerpiece called Buddipole Versatee. You then need a portable mast to erect all of that into the air.

I honestly don’t quite understand why someone would prefer that big and heavy chunk of equipment to a wire dipole. The only situation where I see an advantage from a Buddipole to a regular Inverted V is erection on a field where no trees or support is available. Also, you can use the Buddipole as a V antenna and a horizontal dipole without support on the ends of the leg. But you have to drive your car right to the spot where you intend to play with your radio. The best spots are reachable by foot, not by car. So I don’t like such solutions because I like only portable rigs.

Unboxing

I ordered the Buddistick from WIMO.com, my favorite shop for amateur radio equipment. As always, shipping was quite fast and I received the package the 4th day in Croatia. The order contained the standard kit, spare coil taps, and the clamp. The only difference to the Deluxe kit is the lacking 2nd telescopic whip. 

The antenna comes in a nice pouch, that is useless for portable operations, unfortunately. I have to sew something more compact in that case. But everything finds its place inside the bag – except the coil after you put on the taps. You can’t fiddle it into the lashes or you will break the coil-taps.

The bag is useful for field days, where you can pull your car right to the spot where you will set up your camp. So you can put a lot more equipment in the bag and organize it well.

At first sight, I was a bit disappointed. The coil itself has marks from glue and scratches, also the wire has some dent ins. For 170€ I really expect more quality.
The coil taps are gold-plated and really well made. I have to admit that. But, you get only 2 taps with the standard kit! I ordered 3 more for 16€ so I can tap all bands I intend to use without hassling in the field with the tuning. That’s the plan. I only hope that the tuning won’t alter too much if I set up the antenna somewhere on a hilltop or in the forest. 

Coil after tapping the bands

Tuning the antenna

I have to warn you. You need nerves of steel to tune this antenna!

Plan a whole afternoon to tune it, to tap the coil and to tune the elevated radial.

First I tried to tune it with one elevated radial. Then I thought about using ground radials instead. I added more radials than a full wavelength of the lowest band, it was not enough for some reason. I don’t know why maybe it was the location. When I touched the antenna, the SWR dropped to 1.1, when I removed my hand, it raised. I installed the Antenna on my big JOBY tripod. It is not suitable for elevated radials though, it will tip over immediately. Also, the elevation from ground to radial attachment point is too low. 

Using 12x4m ground radials did not do the trick

I continued to tune with my camera tripod on about 1.30m height. I unwinded the whole radial wire and marked the lengths that are recommended in the manual. Tuning was done like:

  1. Unwind the amount of wire like described in the manual and elevate the radial about 1m of the ground
  2. Search for the best SWR on the coil by tapping random locations. I started with the 15m band
  3. Don’t search by sliding the connector on the coil and by reading your SWR meter! Add a coil tap instead and move back few meters from the antenna
  4. Read the SWR
  5. Repeat 3 until you get the lowest SWR
  6. Start tuning by unwinding / winding the radial
  7. If you can’t get a decent SWR, try to tune the radial to the lowest SWR and then repeat step 3 and then continue with step 7
  8. After few attempts you should get a good SWR
  9. Mark the length on the radial
  10. Go to step 1. for the next band

The 40m band is very narrow. A lot of people don’t care because they have a tuner with them. Well, I do have too but I don’t like to carry it around if it can be avoided. Also, I was not able to lower the SWR below 1.5. I have to say that I was tuning it in kind of an urban area with a power line nearby, so it may or may not affect the tuning. Anyhow, I have not field tested the antenna yet as it seems that a rainy period is on its way and I have to postpone the field test for a while now. 

BandCoil TapRadial lengthSWR
15m4 2/33,17m1,35
17m6 1/33,81m1,30
20m105,54m1,29
30m19 2/38,44m1,10
40m37 2/311,24m1,55
My setup, tuned in garden, not field tested!

Impression

What to say. Since I havn’t tested it in the field yet I can’t really give a conclusion now. I find it quite overpriced. Since I am from Europe, we have to pay customs. In Europe it costs around 170-190 USD. I see that is almost twice the price like in US. Considering the high price in Europe, I’d say that it ain’t worth the money.

The whip is so damn fragile, my tripod tipped over twice during the tuning process and my whip looks like it’s been through 300 SOTA activations. Is bent, dented, twisted, scratched. It fell on my f* lawn!
I tried to straighten the whip but it’s over. It’s twisted in one direction and I can’t really straighten it anymore. I don’t bother about such things if they still work. But it looks ugly. I think Buddipole can invest a bit more quality in those whips like MFJ does. Their whips are top class. This whip is crap. 
The coil itself has residue from the glue they glued it together, a lot of scratches and leftovers from the mold the coil was created. I think they can do a lot better. On the other hand the coil taps are pretty darn good. They work. I see no flaws on them yet. Time will tell I guess. Also those black and blue markings, I find them quite useful. I just realized now they show coil windings in fifth and tenth steps.

What next?

So what is next? I will try this antenna in the field. Compare it to the QRP guys vertical on QRP. I will compare this antenna to a resonant dipole. All that with WSPR and see what I will get. So stay tuned for more to come.

73

9A5ALX

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