I hope to go to Iceland this year and I’m not sure which antenna to choose.
The AX1 is very easy to assemble and disassemble and works well on 20 m. and 17 m. which will be the best bands in my opinion. I’ll use the KX2.
The EFHW 20/30/40 requires a mast and certainly a harness. On the other hand, she will certainly be more efficient. I’ll use the MTR3B.
I have read somewhere that on one of the polar expeditions/jolly trip out, they just laid their antenna wires out on top of the snow and ice and got excellent results. I would imagine you could find reference to this on a google type search.
I often have the exact same dilemna when travelling
You could consider taking with MTR-3B with:
Main antenna: EFHW - I think this is a safest main option due to risk of windy conditions
Backup antenna: AX1 + small tuner (e.g. Pocket Transmatch sold by Kanga Products)
Having a backup antenna is a must anyway on longer trips. I would never rely only on the AX1 which is quite fragile.
That’s for sure. The efficiency of the AX1 depends largely on the counterweight. It should be about a quarter of a wavelength long and stretched and taut above the ground. A tuner is highly recommended.
A trapped and tuned EFHW, on the other hand, is resonant unless it is tangled up on the ground.
You can also use it successfully as a slooper or better as an inverted vee.
I normally use an EFHW but carry the AX1, 40m extender, just in case. I have pulled in QSO’s with the EFHW when I got nothing on the AX1 but have never tried it the other way round.
I would definitely take the EFHW:
It is more powerful
It works on both TRX (with the tuner of the KX2 everywhere)
It is light and small in pack size
If you take hiking poles, that’s enough for the mast.
My LNR Precision EFT-10/20/40 EFHW on its plastic winder weighs 176g. I’ve had and given many good reports even when using it with a short pole with my KX2 especially on the higher HF bands you mentioned.
My Spirit-of-Air 4.1m pole (now ~3.5m with top sections removed) weighs 275g. It’s 52cm long in its collapsed position. If I’m flying, it goes in my ‘carry-on’ smaller rucksack or check-in luggage if I have any.
I configure the EFHW as a sloper with a 1-2m coax cable to the KX2 at the ground end.
I wouldn’t use the AX1 unless confined to my hotel room balcony.
Take an inflatable cushion for your backside – the ground is bound to be cold in Iceland.
My standard HF kit currently consists of a KX2, 20/30/40M EFHW and an AX1. I tend to use the AX1 if summits are busy with muggles and/or there is not much room. Or if I am feeling lazy or in a hurry.
If you are going to busy summits, then I’d vote for the AX1. But if you have room on the summit, the EFHW. I would probably go for the KX2 plus EFHW combo if you only want to take one antenna as it gives the most chance of success. I am presuming you are not doing massive hikes, so weight isn’t TOO much of a consideration. And that you are unlikely to visit these summits again. So you want to be sure to qualify, the KX2 + EFHW gives you the most chance of 4 contacts IMO. Presuming you have the tuner, more bands. If the antenna breaks, you can cobble something together that will work with the remaining bits of wire. Plus you have SSB if needed (built in mic works surprisingly well in my experience).
Personally, I would take the KX2 plus EFHW, plus AX1. My EFHW set-up including pegs and pole is 216g, and the AX1 is only 127g and hardly takes up any room.
But if weight is a serious consideration (big hikes) then it’s gotta be the EFHW plus MTR.
The above is all of course, my opinion, but the one thing I am CERTAIN of is that whichever combo you take you will at some point wish you’d picked the other one
Personally, out of the kit you have mentioned Daniel, I would take the KX2 and the EFHW. With that you will have the flexibility of more bands if radio conditions are poor. I built myself a 40m EFHW and a 49:1 unun a few years ago and was surprised how well it worked with my Z11 auto-ATU, even netting me a contact on 80m SSB when the other bands would not work. It was a bit of an eye-opener after using linked dipoles for many many years. There is a place for the AX1 of course, but maybe when the operating is a little less serious.
As you will have seen from all the answers so far, everyone has their favourite antenna and all have their merits and drawbacks. Any loaded telescopic whip antenna such as the AX-1 (or the HF-PRO2 that I use) will be compromised on performance but is practical as it can be packed up small.
I am actually going through a similar thought process as I intend to fly to Cyprus later in the year and taking my usual linked dipole and squid pole on the aircraft could have some problems.
For a rig (I’m an SSB-only operator), I’ll most likely take my new G106 radio, which means I have to use a resonant antenna if I am not going to take some form of an external antenna tuner. I do have a small “throw bag” to get a wire over a tree branch and I’m considering taking my J-Pole antennas that I bought from Lambdahalbe - indeed I am adding 10 & 12m ones to my present 15, 17 & 20m versions. The advantage of a J-Pole is that it has an integrated ground plane/counterpoise in the 1/4 wavelength coax run. They are however only single-band antennas but they are small and light.
As I said - you will see LOTS of suggestions in response to your raising this topic on the reflector. I look forward to reading them all to see what alternative might be of interest to me.
73 Ed DD5LP.
When I did my trip to Iceland, I took a SOTABeams carbon mast and 20/30/40 linked dipole. The mast fits easily in my carry-on bag and the airport security didn’t look twice at any of my gear.
I had no trouble putting up the dipole on summits. I only had to guy the mast once - all the other summits had rocks or a summit marker post that I was able to lash my mast to. Activating in Iceland was amazing… the EU pileups were fun!! I will be going back there again some day.
No matter which antenna you take I think you will have an amazing time and make lots of QSOs.
Have a great trip!
New AX1 user. It’s a ‘good enough’ antenna for SOTA anywhere. I’ve had very good results on 4 activations over the past couple weeks. I would recommend the tripod to a short length of coax versus the bipod attached directly to the KX2. The bipod wobbles some in stiff wind, isn’t as stable. K4SWL has written volumes on the AX1 - recommend checking out his articles.
Unfortunately, the original subject “AX1 vs EFHW” chosen by Daniel did not state that this question is specifically related to his planned vacation in TF.
That’s a bit of a shame, because activators, who already know TF from their own experience, don’t feel directly addressed.
A subject such as “TF trip: AX1 vs EFHW” might appeal to a somewhat broader audience.
BTW, Daniel is not a HAM newbie and has been using EFHWs with the MTR3B and KX2 as well as the AX1/AXE1 with the KX2 for many years (latest photos of the AX1/switchable 60&40m loading coils e.g. under SOTLAS
And as a former marathon runner, trekking poles are a kind of superfluous object for Daniel, he prefers to have his hands free, even in the mountains, hi.