BigIR assembly

Ships in two boxes

Ships in two boxes

I have to say in all my years of Ham Radio the SteppIR manual(s) are by far the most poorly written I have found. As a matter of fact that may go for manuals as a whole in all industries I have ran across. 

It is plagued with errors that include obsolete pictures, parts called out incorrectly and  generally poor and hard to follow directions.  Below includes a few pictures of my assembly process along with some updated notes and area’s that are going to be stumbling blocks for anyone trying to put one together.

Figure 1

Figure 1

The first step in the process is installing the diverter sections. These are the smaller PVC tubes (2) that guides the copper beryllium tape up through the large lower tube sections into the smaller telescoping fiberglass poles on the top. As seen in Figure 1 the PVC diverter section extends just past the large green extension “EST” tubes.

If the antenna needs broke down and transported it can easily be separated at this point to make the antenna shorter. However the antennas longest section will still be about 16′ long unless you cut the PVC tubing after “homing” the tape and cutting and removing the glue lined shrink tubing which will have to be later replaced.

Figure 2 "pre-marking"

Figure 2 “pre-marking”

I found it a good idea to measure and mark the tube before starting the heat shrink process (see figure 2).  This way you can be assured that the tubing is still centered as the tubing begins to shrink and distort.  Try heating the tubing evenly from all sides as it shrinks down nicer and more uniform.

Complete

Figure 3 complete

After the tubing is shrunk I gave it a couple wraps of quality 3m vinyl tape while still slightly warm. SteppIR uses high quality shrink tubing however an extra layer to protect against the UV elements can’t hurt. And if the elements do start to take a toll its much easier to replace just the tape instead of the special heat-shrink tubing. Figure 3 shows a picture of the tubing after shrunk and figure 4 shows the tape process.

Also note that on page 9 of their manual it says “Place the narrow end of a rubber boot onto the butt end of the EST (pole)”. This is incorrect. You are actually placing the narrow end of the boot on the smaller telescoping fiberglass pole and not the larger EST pole.

Figure 4 "extra tape"

Figure 4 “extra tape”

Reinforcing kit

Figure 5 Reinforcing kit

I have to say the most confusing part of the manual is related to the wind reinforcing kit. My mark IV BigIR comes standard with this reinforcing kit and to be honest its a good thing as I would not want to run one of the older versions without it. The reinforcing kit includes the saddles and 1/4″ aluminum plate as shown by arrows in Figure 5.

The installation of this kit jumps around in the manual and is very hard to follow. It refers to a long side and short side of the 1/4″ plate. The plate is actually symmetrical except for the holes. What they are actually referring to the hole spacing. See Figure 7.

Figure 6  (click for larger)

Figure 6 (click for larger)

In a nutshell if you take a look at Figure 6 & Figure 7 you will easily be able to figure out how to install this assembly by looking at the pictures. Their description just confuses the matter.

Figure 7 (click for larger)

Figure 7 (click for larger)

There are two sizes of aluminum saddles to be installed and although they make mention of 1 3/4 and 2″ in the manual it would have been nice if they mentioned something to the effect of installing the larger clamp on the top and the smaller on the bottom.

The manual jumps around even more when you opted for the 80 meter add-on coil kit. When doing this they tell you to read the instructions on page 14 before installing the reinforcing plate. Basically you will be using four longer #10 machine screws when adding the coil. This could have been simply stated without all the jumping back and forth and scratching your head !

Below is a gallery of pictures from my assembly including a picture of the inside of the balun. Their site talks about what criteria needs to be met before you need a balun. I easily met the requirements for not needing a balun but when I went to place the order I was told I needed the balun with the 80 meter coil kit.

I am pretty sure I am going to be happy with the antenna once I put it into service but their website and documentation leaves a lot to be desired. I would call it borderline unprofessional but in reality I think its the poster-child for unprofessional 😉

Unit ships in two boxes
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General BigIR

BigIR installation

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