[amsat-bb] Regular Arrow vs. Alaskan Arrow

Lizeth Norman normanlizeth at gmail.com
Sat Jan 9 19:35:37 UTC 2016

Phased Elks work well. Airline portable. 2 pieces of coax the same
length and a tee. Only caveat is the horizontal spacing. Any antenna
pair could be driven the same way.

Shooting RF up and over the Andes (knife edge diffraction) and taking
advantage of ducting are two of the things that I've noticed with this

Fellow at Elk was kind enough to outline what I needed to know
regarding this and then push me out to the net to learn.. Look up
stacking antennas. Capture area. He thinks the elk has an elliptical
capture area. That follows from my in field testing.

It's not about gain (directionality, really), it's about more signal
to less noise. Noise levels in the rest of the world are high.

Example: Seaside VHF or UHF. Noise pointing over the ocean is much
less, s2. Point inland in any occupied area.. 20+S9. Cavity helps
somewhat with AGC lift.

I don't take this stuff to nowheresville without a reason.

Let me tell you about the dxpedition to Vieques that no one heard.

On Sat, Jan 9, 2016 at 2:10 PM, Dave Swanson <dave at druidnetworks.com> wrote:
> Hello Satellites friends and colleagues,
> Since I started making videos a few months back of my portable satellite
> operating, a lot of folks have picked up on the fact that I seem to use the
> 'Alaskan' Arrow (AKA) pretty often. I also tend to use the AKA for DX
> contacts and very long distance QSOs which always make it into my movies.
> Questions about the AKA versus the regular arrow have become by far the most
> asked topic of me from other operators. Clayton, W5PFG, wrote an outstanding
> piece on his blog (
> http://www.w5pfg.us/2015/10/my-thoughts-about-alaskan-arrow-146437.html )
> with his thoughts on the AKA, after his experience with one this fall, that
> I'd recommend that anyone interested in this topic also go read. Since I
> don't have a blog though, this is the best forum I have to express thoughts
> on the matter. If you have no intention of ever operating portable, or are
> convinced some other design is superior, then feel free to skip the rest of
> this thread. I'm not trying to make this into anything other than an answer
> to frequently asked questions I get, concerning the differences between the
> Regular Arrow and the Alaskan Arrow, and to try and address the 'is it worth
> it' question that inevitably follows the 'which one should I get' question.
> So, to start, the regular arrow is great antenna.  I have one, and I use it
> for 95% of the passes I work. I used my regular arrow for my first QSOs with
> Brazil, Alaska, Hawaii, Northern Ireland, and England, all of which are
> between 5000km and 7200km from my home operating spots. It is lightweight,
> effective, and will suit the needs of nearly every satellite operator out
> there that seeks a portable antenna. If (and this is a huge if, that's
> outside the scope of this post, but so so important) you have a nice
> operating spot that has a clear view of the horizon with nothing in the way.
> You can easily work all birds in the sky AOS til LOS with the regular arrow,
> and be wildly successful. If I'm not chasing 7000km+ DX, I'll be on my
> regular arrow. If I'm hanging my arm out the window while /P in another
> grid? I'll be on my regular arrow. Backyard 45° SO50 pass in the evening?
> Regular Arrow. Most of the time, I'm on my regular Arrow. It probably
> doesn't look that way from pictures and video, but I typically don't
> document my routine operating.. no one wants to see that, they only wanna
> see the cool stuff.
> So, why do I own and use an AKA with everything I just wrote in mind?
> First, I do operate terrestrial VHF/UHF, as well as satellites, from
> mountain tops. For this type of work I'll physically attach the AKA with
> only one set of elements installed to my mast, pop it up in the air, and
> work folks in other grids on 2m or 70cm. If I'm Jeepin' to the mountain top,
> my equipment has to break down into small enough pieces I can fit it inside,
> or if I'm hiking, it needs to be small and lightweight enough to carry up on
> my back. The AKA represents the highest gain, lightest weight, most portable
> solution that I could find for my style of mountain-topping.
> Second, the AKA does have more gain, which is useful for working satellites.
> It's not a lot more gain, and it's not required on most passes, but I
> routinely work at < 0.5° in max elevation from elevated positions while
> portable, and so every db counts. Most people are probably not doing this...
> and judging by the considerable lack of activity I hear in the birds on
> these passes, I think there's a fair amount of evidence to support this
> theory. If you're routinely working exceptionally low passes at and near the
> horizon portable, then an AKA might be for you. If not, I wouldn't worry
> about it.
> Third, as mentioned many times by others, the AKA is big and heavy. As Jeff,
> NI3B, said a while back in a post "Holding one of those things up in the air
> for fourteen minutes and your arms will look like Popeye the Sailor Man at
> LOS." Combine this with my distaste for tripods, and you can see where we've
> got an issue. While I don't care much for canned spinach, I am a six-foot,
> 250 pound man, I split firewood by hand, and I try to keep myself pretty
> strong and in shape. I can hold the AKA for an entire pass without a huge
> issue, even thought my arms get pretty sore after. I absolutely understand
> that others may not be capable, or simply may not want to subject themselves
> to this kind of punishment. That's fine, you don't have too. Get a regular
> arrow, and save your biceps.. you'll be just fine.
> So in summary, If you're a mountain-top, multidisciplinary operator, that
> wants superior portable performance, weight and muscle fatigue be damned,
> then the AKA might be for you. If you're not, get the regular arrow, you
> won't be sorry.
> Feel free to ask questions, provide critiques.
> 73!
> -Dave, KG5CCI
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