The X80 is a commercial version of a so-called Rybakov vertical antenna
that was manufactured in the UK by Snowdonia Radio Company
. Sadly this company ceased trading in late 2012. The antenna is 5.8m long and covers 3.5-29MHz via an ATU. The antenna resembles a base loaded CB vertical in appearance, although the design is quite different. The SRC X80 base contains a 9:1 UNUN tranformer rated at 150W which converts the relatively high antenna impedance at the base of the vertical section to an impedance more easily matched by auto-ATUs found in modern radios. As with all such antennas, this is a compromise one, so do not expect remarkable results. However, when mounted in the clear it is capable of quite decent performance, even when running QRP. The SRC X80 is very reasonably priced and represents quite a bargain for a commercial HF antenna.
Packing and Delivery
The unit arrived within 3 days of ordering by Royal Mail and came in a strong cardboard carton. What surprised me was how small the package was considering the size of the erected unit. The secret was packing the 6 vertical sections of the antenna within each other to save space. All the necessary jubilee clips and brackets were supplied and nothing was missing.
This took about 30 minutes, with some of this time removing the previous antenna on the side of the house. There were no issues at all in assembly or erection. SRC recommend waterproofing the antenna joints with self-amalgamating or PVC tape if erecting permanently. When up on the back of the house, the antenna does sway about in the wind, but it looks strong enough and likely to survive.
This consisted of connecting 10m of coax back to the operating shack in the front upstairs of the house (the antenna is at the back) to my Elecraft T1 auto-ATU and connecting this to the output of my FT817 5W QRP radio. Then I set the middle of each band on the FT817 and set the match using the auto-ATU. On all bands from 80-10m I was able to match the antenna without problem. As I have the Elecraft T1's FT817 interface lead, the ATU will automatically remember band settings when changing bands on the FT817. This means you can switch to the same part of a new band without having to reset the ATU - ideal for flicking between QRP calling frequencies, PSK31 frequencies or WSPR frequencies.
Within a couple of minutes of connecting up the antenna and matching it on all bands I had a couple of 5W QRP CW QSOs in the log on 12m and 10m. I then tried WSPR beaconing on 7, 10, 14 and 28MHz to see what reports were given and received. On all bands tested I received several reports within a few minutes. As I write this, I see I've received a -27dB S/N WSPR report on 18MHz with my 5W from W8LIW
some 6105km away, so it's definitely working. A little later I had a QSO on QRP CW with EI5DR
Conclusions so far
Well, it's early days, but it's certainly putting a decent signal out on several bands and it's allowing me multi-band operation without adjustment with the FT817 and the T1 auto-ATU. My only concern is it's rather high and thin and does blow around a bit in the wind.