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Firestick IBA-5 Apartment Antenna

Discussion in 'CB Antennas' started by Robb, Sep 20, 2010.

  1. Robb

    Robb Yup

    Dec 18, 2008
    Likes Received:
    A local friend of mine/ local radio operator 'Brian 264' (a member of this forum) had a weekend getaway with his wife. The went to Aptos CA and rented a condo on the 2nd floor. Now Aptos is on the coast of CA, and the condo was on a slight hill less than a mile from the ocean. Aptos is about 75 miles S of San Francisco CA.

    Brian is a radio enthusiast. His wife didn't mind that he brought his General Stonewall Jackson radio and a Firestick indoor antenna along. He unfolded the four radial ground plane legs, screwed in the top-loaded radiator/antenna to the center of the ground plane base, stood up on a lawn chair on the balcony, and then set the antenna on the edge of the roof. Using the ground planes as legs, he adjusted the SWR. After some tweaking, he managed to get a near perfect match. From the roof of the second floor, the antenna had a commanding view of the Pacific Ocean.

    Early in the afternoon - about 2 or 3-ish, he was listening to channel 38 on lower side band when he heard Hawaii and made a call. He got WR-369/Hawaii and talked to him for a little while. The receive signal strength was in the red. He then heard southern CA talking to Australia a hour or so later, and then he tried to call them. 105/Australia responded and Brian recorded a peak of almost 7 S-units at one point. Next, 044/Tasmania called Brian and that contact was also made. Signal strength varied and was mostly weak; but it did peak up a bit at times. Not too shabby for a quickly assembled antenna when conditions were present.

    Brian thought the antenna is basically a fair build. The radial legs aren't built very strong; but they work. The weak link in the design is the coax and the angle iron that controls the legs/radials themselves. The coax is cheap, Brian agreed with me that he may upgrade the coax with better the next time he uses it. But he warned that the support for the radial legs is very weak and must be treated with care; or they will bend. Overall, he was impressed with its performance and said it was definitely worth the cost (about $60/new).

    It might be advertised as an 'apartment antenna' but Brian had problems with TV interference when he first tried it out at home. He felt that for an emergency back-up antenna - or using it as he did on his weekend 'get-away' - it is fine. The coax is 18 ft long and is not the best quality. The mfr claims the antenna can do 1000 watts. Both Brian and I agreed that there was no way either of us would trust that coax with a kilowatt of power. I'd like to see a piece of nice RG-58 on it - or even LMR-240 Ultraflex to make it all that it can be. Even then, 500 watts/max with decent coax is all I would wager on it. The legs of the radials are ~30 inches each in length. Amazing that it works as well as it does. The real secret to this 5 ft fiberglass antenna - is that it has a top-load coil. Firestick claims that it is a '5/8 wave' - electrically. It has an adjustable tuning tip for easy SWR adjustments...



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  2. TonyV225

    TonyV225 W9WDX Amateur Radio Club Member

    Apr 18, 2005
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    I often looked at these and wondered about them years ago.
  3. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator
    Staff Member

    Apr 14, 2002
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  4. jazzsinger

    jazzsinger Bullshit Buster

    Jul 3, 2008
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    Firestick have been claiming that bullshit for years,if it truly was 5/8 wave electrically it would need a matching circuit at the base as the base impedance would be in the thousands of ohms range,sufficie to say it hasn't got any matching circuit which ensures its nothing more than a top loaded 1/4 wave.

    It may take around 22 feet of wire to resonate it but that doesn't make it 5/8 wave electrically,what it means is it takes that amount of wire inductively wrapped (inductive reactance) to cancel out the capacitive reactance of it being too short.

    it will be a very inefficient antenna,with heavy ground losses,but even inefficient antennas are capable of remarkable distances at hf frequencies when propagation is medium - strong.

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