SteppIR BigIR 6 – 40 meter vertical


Everything it takes

I have a few acres to play with but I like to keep my antennas low profile and hidden.  I am just not to the point I want to deface the natural scenery with a large tower.  Our acreage has a lot of trees with upper branches at about 60′ which allows me to string up wire antenna’s which is something I have never had in the past.

So after building a new house I immediately took advantage of the horizontal space that come along with a 550′ lot. This yielded me antenna’s that were long and low (wavelength speaking)  with extremely high angles of radiation. This gives me one of the bigger signals on the low bands for a few hundred miles but with a 60 to 80 degree radiation angle the DX does not play so well !


Planned vertical location

So I decided to purchase a vertical with a low angle of radiation. After careful consideration I chose the SteppIR BigIR which is a true 1/4 wave on all operating frequencies from 6 to 40 meters thanks to a stepper motor driving a copper beryllium tape that extends inside the element .  I also opted for the 80 meter add-on coil and an option for the controller that provides transmit lockout when the SteppIR is adjusting.

With all Marconi type antennas a counterpoise system is required. Some locations may get more benefit than others because of the site soil conditions. The method and quantity of radials is highly debated but the general consensus is that 12 radials is the very minimum. Generally, the more the better but there is a cutoff point with diminishing returns.

After reviewing several ground radial efficiency charts I decided on 60 radials that are 60′ long. It was my original intention to dig and bury the radials but after talking to a couple friends I opted the simpler staple the wire down method. I have been told within a few months the grass will swallow the wire never to be seen again and from an efficiency standpoint this is the ideal location as the losses increase the deeper they are buried. Although I would think top of dirt vs. 4″ down is negligible.


Radial Plate

There are several things that you might want to consider when you are contemplating a ground mounted vertical. These things are going nearly double the cost or even quadruple the cost if using a cheaper model than I chose.

  • Ground radials – Sixty radials that are 60 feet long is 3600 feet of wire. Copper is expensive!!!
  • Radial plate – This is not required but DX engineering offers a really nice plate that makes an easy and sanitary radial attachment point.
  • Ground rod – Mainly for lightning protection.
  • Coax Seal – Wrap all connections !  Being a foot off the ground will be covered in snow at my location as well lots of moisture in other months.
  • Dog Invisible Fence Staples – To hold down radials if you do not dig them in.
  • Coax and Control Cable – Direct Bury in my case as my antenna is 145′ away from the house. Need 8 wire for BigIR with 80 meter coil kit.
  • Flexible ground braid – to connect SteppIR to radial system.
  • Misc. bolts, solder ring terminals, etc.

SteppIR BigIR related

BigIR assembly

BigIR installation

How does it perform?