Diamond X200-a vertical array for 2m/70cm

Diamond X200-a vertical array for 2m/70cm

My new Diamond x-200a 2m and 70 cm vertical antenna.
This Diamond is dual-band two element 5/8-wave phased vertical array for 2 meters and four elements on 70cm. See the usual tech specs from Diamond here.If you may recall, I have been off-the-air for decades. Not only am I getting ready to build a new ham shack, but I need to outfit the shack as well. My only transceiver at the moment is a Yaesu FT-60R which I recently reviewed.My current challenge is to hit a local 2 meter repeater (an ARC I just joined) which is about 60 miles away from my home. My FT-60R, even with an improved whip antenna and the FT-60R’s 4-watt output, simply won’t key the repeater. I can hear it full quieting, but they can’t hear me…So I resorted to installing a Diamond X-200a vertical on an 18′ aluminum pole next to the side of my home. I used Channel Master Heavy Duty Wall Mounts to secure the pole to the side of my home. These are well-made and worked very well.

It is Rated at +6 dB on 2 meters. I suspect my real world gain is probably 3 dB.

The good news is that I can now hit the repeater, but I am not full quieting. The antenna is suppose to exhibit a well-defined figure 8 radiation pattern. I will use a field strength meter to reorient the antenna shortly to make sure I’ve got the big lobe pointed directly at the repeater. I hope this works. If not, my next step will be to add a power amp to my station and a DC power supply to power it and my FT-60R . That will be about a $200 solution. Hope I don’t have to do it though. But I digress…

I chose the Diamond X-200a for a few reasons:

  • Low cost
  • Easy installation of the aluminum pole, house mounting brackets and the antenna itself. I already had the aluminum pole and mounting brackets.
  • I did not want to deal with a yagi and rotor right now. That would have required a stronger pole, mast, etc. In other words more expense than I wanted to commit to this project. My ultimate aim is to get back on HF. I will use 2 meters somewhat, but maybe only check in the the ARC’s weekly meeting on 2 meters. And yagis and rotors age. Problems crop up as the years go by.
  • If I need it in the future, two of these antennas would give me good coverage North, East, South and West. Just use a manual coax switch.
  • The antenna is compact. Only about 8′ long and weighs next to nothing. Strong fiberglass construction. Represents just a fractional wind load. Wind speed is rated up to 112 mph. If something like that ever happens around here, my wife and I will be long gone before it comes. I will deal with my home owner’s insurance policy when we get back. <g> This antenna is built to last and will be here for a very long time.

Now here are some cons for the X-200a. These are really assembly issues which I was able to resolve as I put it together:

  • The instruction sheets provided are poorly written and the person who wrote the instruction was not well versed in the English language. Several steps are downright baffling. Two separate and loose addendums supersede the instruction sheets. They do make sense. Just make sure you read them.
  • I always try to follow written instructions carefully — to avoid pitfalls — but with these instructions — I simply had to back away from them a few times and employ some mechanical common sense.
  • The most critical step in putting together the antenna is connecting the lower section to the upper section. Before you connect the lower section of the antenna to the upper section, you must tap the upper section on the ground to expose the element joint bracket — it’s hidden inside the upper section. Once it’s exposed, Figure 5 in the instructions will finally make sense to you: you insert and screw down the center conductor.
  • Once you have the set screw tight, you mate the upper and lower gasket clamps by screwing them towards each other. The instructions call for you to wrench them together “…until there is no gap between them…” At this point my mechanical common sense stopped me from applying the torque necessary to close the gap to zero. I really think I would have stripped the threads if I had continued tightening. Instead, I wrenched them tight, but there was still a small gap. I then applied silicon coax wrap to weatherproof the connection. I am happy with the results and I didn’t take the chance of stripping those threads.
  • The rest of the instructions, because of the figures (diagrams) provided, were smooth sailing. Look at the figures — forget the text.
  • I did elect to use coax wrap on the PL-259 coax connector which screws into the bottom of the antenna.

For the price The Diamond X-200a a good antenna in my opinion. I am pleased with the quality of construction. It’s doing exactly what I need it to do. Putting it together went quickly. Erecting it was very easy as well. Once I get the vertical twisted in the right direction, I’ll report back here. And I’ll do a separate post if I need to go the power amp route*.

Learn more about the X200-a on Diamond’s website by clicking here. I bought my Diamond from Ham Radio Outlet. Amazon carries some Diamond Antennas too.

And yes, the sky IS that blue up here. I live in the desert southwest high up on a mountain plateau, elevation 5,405 feet. Astronomy from here is awesome too.

*Update: 12 June 2014. I still can’t fully quiet that repeater. My field strength meter seems to tell me the Diamond X-200a does NOT have a tight figure-8 radiation pattern after all. Much more omni, I’m afraid (your mileage may vary). As I see it, my next set of options are:

1.  Buy a 2m power amp and a DC power supply. The amp would provide ~30w output with the 4 watts input from my Yaesu FT-60R. I would need the power supply anyway when I go HF.

2.  Ham Radio Outlet is currently offering a special deal on a Kenwood TM-281A. This is more cost effective than #1 above and provides ~65 watts output. It makes sense to do this approach. Just keep the FT-60R and use it as it was designed…as a mobile handheld. Use the TM-281A as a base station. This should definitely quiet that confounded club repeater. <g> I should have the new gear next week. Will report back then…

Update. The Kenwood Tm-281A arrived and it departed the next day. It had a hardware problem. I replaced it with an Icom IC-2300H. And I love it. I now fully quiet that club repeater. Mission accomplished!