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SB270 portable beam

 A review of the Sotabeam SB270


The Sotabeam is a lightweight dual band yagi antenna computer designed to use in hilltops/SOTA and portable operation.
All of the elements can be stored within the boom which is 1 meter long for easy transportation
It covers 2 meters and 70cms and can be mounted vertically or horizontally

I bought this antenna to use for its intended purpose i.e. temporary portable operation on 2 meters and 70 cm FM & SSB, Its not going to outperform larger yagis on towers etc.. I can't imagine carrying a large yagi and a steel tower up to a summit!
I've used this antenna while out on daytrips, holidays and even at home in the back garden for DFing signals.

According to the manufacturer figures there is 10.4dBi Gain with a front to back ratio of 18db from the six elements on 70cm and 8dBi with a front to back ratio of >13.5dBi with the three elements on 2 meters.

Whats in the bag :-

1. A lineffe 7 meter telescopic fibre glass mast
2. the Sotabeam
3. The guy ropes
4. A reusable clamp to hold the guy ropes on the the fibre glass mast
5. Nice stainless pegs for the guy ropes.
6. A length of red and black heat shrink to use to identify the elements.
7. A 6m length of RG58 with a BNC connector on one end.
8. Another small piece of 1" white PVC pipe to make a RF choke with.
9. A quality printed in depth manual to show you how to put it all together.
10. A PVC tube to store the 70cm elements if your not going to be taking them with you.
11. Two crocodile clips to attach the coax to the driven element.
12. A handy black pen to label the boom to make operation even easier

First impressions

At first I was a little concerned with the boom material as its quite soft and the plastic bolts that screw in to the holes might cause the the holes in the boom to enlarge, which might cause the elements to come loose.
After erecting the Sotabeam quite a few times the holes did enlarge a bit so I'd advise not screwing the elements in too tight (nothing a small blob of bluetack wouldn't fix).
I like the design and it does outperform most if not all the cheaper 2m/70cm portable antennas available
I can see some thought has gone into researching materials making this a very light compact antenna system.

First trial

It was very very easy to put together (as you've marked the elements with heatshrink) and feels reletivly sturdy.
I used three cable ties to attach the 7m pole to a stub I have in the garden instead of using the guying system.
The coax was attached with the crocodile clips to the driven element for use on 2 meters vertical.

I swung the beam around 360 for a quick listen and was quite suprised at how directional this antenna really was.
There was a compass sat at the base of the mast so I could point at a few repeaters and soon had half a dozen QSOs.
After tunning to 145.500FM and calling CQ in a few directions I made a dozen or so contacts simplex.

As a summary

It fits perfectly in the boot of most cars, it can even be transported on the crossbar of most bicycles.
The beautifully designed and printed instruction manual was very clear and precise.
The performance is good, its not going to out perform a steppir or any other tower mounted yagi... but then its not designed to!
The SWR is below 1.5 through the whole of the 2 meter band and below 1.7 on 70cm.

The price is a little high I think but then your also paying for the time it took to design this quality antenna
I would recommend the use of the "liquid tape" to seal the coax where it splits for crocodile clip attachment to stop water ingress.
It fits the bill... I'd rather pay a little more and get a quality antenna than buy some of the flimsy cheap 2 meter portable antennas I have seen at various radio rallys.

 

The M0VST Score

Cost - 7.5/10 - A bit more than i'd have liked but not the end of the world.
 
Build quality - 7/10 I wish I could have given it more but the holes enlarging on the boom dropped points.

Ease of use - 9/10 - easy to erect and build
 
Performance - 8/10 for its weight and size it holds it own and is practically unbeatable on SOTA activations

Thanks for taking to time to read my review, soon there will be a function for you to add comments and thoughts on the reviews on the site.

All the best

Mark
M0VST - KD8MGW






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