[amsat-bb] Re: Arrow and ELK antennas

Clint Bradford clintbradford at mac.com
Thu Apr 3 13:30:54 PDT 2014

I just had someone privately email me, berating me for making him click a link for 
background info on this topic, instead of simple posting it here. OK, here we go ...

The Great Antenna Debate - 

Now that you have the basic information on the Arrow II and Elk Hand Held Satellite Antennas, you'll likely become part of the great debate as to which antenna is better than the other. The fact is, they're both great antennas! You'll have to decide for yourself as it all comes down to personal taste. Read the article by K6LCS - Clint Bradford as he attempts to put a final word on the debate!

Every few months a thread starts somewhere on the 'Net - demeaning Arrow Antennas for whatever reason. Or the "Elk vs. Arrow" silliness - where one will tell all that one or the other is vastly superior to the other ...

There's plenty of "Elk vs. Arrow" debate on the `Net. A lot of it pure rubbish - and not written by people who have actually purchased and own both units as they make their uneducated allegations. A couple of the re-occurring themes ...

"Arrow doesn't publish gain numbers for their antennas."

This is true. Maybe a little "arrogant" of Arrow, too (grin). But reliable test data is out there - and thousands of owners will attest that their Arrow Antennas are performing magnificently for what they were designed to do.

"The Arrow is hard to transport."

Well, I devote my entire Ford Ranger's covered pickup bed to my Arrow when I take it places. Rarely has it been disassembled. But to make it absolutely flat, all one needs to do is unscrew the three 2M element pairs, and you have a flat plane of an antenna.

"Arrows are all engineered wrong - they cannot possibly work."

A little story for you. While working for HRO-Anaheim a few years ago, I sold an Arrow to a client for working the satellites. I had first-hand experiences with the Arrow, and therefore could wholeheartedly recommend them to others. The gentleman was waiting for me to open up the shop the next morning, with his Arrow in hand.

"I know antenna theory, and this antenna cannot possibly work - it is engineered all wrong - I want a refund!" - he demanded.

Hmmm. Part of me wanted to discover if he assembled it correctly, and whether or not he actually tested it. But the other part of me was thinking, "Well, I can purchase it myself as an open-box item ... "

Which I did. And it is the SAME antenna that I have used the past 6+ years for EVERY demo and presentation I have given.

Moral of the story: The Arrow Antenna may not please some engineers. But it sure pleases those who desire to work the FM satellites.

"The Arrow Antenna is much heavier ... "

I have brand-new, un-opened Elk and brand-new, un-opened Arrow in my hands. The Elk package weighs 35.6 ounces. The Arrow weight 33.6 ounces. Any "weight difference issue" is, well, NOT an issue.

And on and on ... EITHER antenna is a great investment. Most of the anti-Arrow nonsense on the `Net remind me of while my wife was proudly carrying her Nikon F in the 1970s (arguably the most significant SLR in 35mm history), others would comment, "Oh, my Pentax / Minolta / Canon is as good as that ... " --- But you never heard any Nikon owner state any such comparison ... (grin)

How do the Elk and Arrow compare? Both work the FM birds very well. Either make working the FM sats feel like "cheating" - the gain is that dramatic over any HT whip improvements you might make.

But from someone who has purchased both and has used them both, the Arrow "senses" the initial capturing of a sat's signal more definitively than the Elk does. I mean, in front of darned near every audience, I'll declare, "There it is!" - when those close to me don't hear anything of note. But that slight "dip" in the background noise ... no SWR meter can detect it ... you can just hear the beginning of capturing the signal better with the Arrow than with the Elk. This is NOT a scientific conclusion - just my personal observation after working the sats for several years with both antennas. **

And although it takes more patience and finesse to work with "lesser" antennas, remember this: One of the first 2M reception reports from the 250mW transmitter aboard the new ARISSat-1 satellite was from a gentleman using a STOCK DUCK on his Yaesu VX-8 HT! SO ... simple HT antenna improvements (Smiley 270A ... Diamond SHR-320A) are certainly viable options!

Antenna suggestions - and DIY projects - on the ANTENNAS page at ...


Clint Bradford - K6LCS

(**Editor's Note: I have experienced this phenomenon myself! This really does happen.)


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