Hy-Gain AV-18VS Vertical Antenna – Hands on Review
A Hy-Gain AV-18VS Vertical Antenna — properly installed — can be a terrific antenna
After being off the air for a few decades, I had installed a G5RV Jr. to get back on the air. I ran it from a short flag pole on one side of the house over to a tree about 60 feet away. I could only get it up to a height of 16 ft. without having to invest in telescoping masts or by renting a bucket truck to get up higher in the trees.
While the G5RV is a good antenna design, it simply can’t be efficient at 16 feet. I looked into what it would cost me to raise the elevation to 50 feet, but it was four times more expensive than installing an inexpensive vertical antenna. Also, my wife and I will be moving to a mountain-top home in the next year or two…I don’t want to heavily invest in antennas and towers here. She will get her dream home and I will get a killer ham radio QTH and standalone ham shack.
The Hy-Gain AV-18VS vertical looked like a promising candidate with only one exception…it is a base-loaded vertical that requires the coil tap to be changed every time you change bands. Since I typically change bands dozens of times per day as I chase DX, manual tapping simply wouldn’t fly.
After doing some thinking and research, I didn’t see why I couldn’t use my ICOM IC-718 transceiver’s LDG IT-100 external autotuner to handle band/freq changes. This autotuner is nothing special — equivalent to the built-in autotuners in many HF transceivers these days.
I decided to go ahead with the project. I purchased the antenna and a DX Engineering radial plate to make it easier to lay a radial system. I chose a good quality (non-Ham Radio marketed) wire for the radials. Since it is marketed as “dog fence” wire, it is a lot cheaper. Why pay a premium for “radial” wire when you don’t have to…
72 radials later (60 @ 24 ft and 12 @ 33 ft), a good earth ground and my assembled Hy-Gain AV-18VS Vertical Antenna was up and running. The included printed assembly instructions could have been written better — I just used common sense instead. I chose not to tap the coil at all. I went inside to begin SWR tests. I achieved less than 1.5:1 SWR on 10, 12, 15, 17, 20, 30, 40 and 80 meters. Done. Enough tinkering.
After extensive use of the vertical, I find performance to be excellent on all bands except 80 meters. I’ve never had an interest in 80 anyway, so this was not a negative for me. Perhaps I could have tinkered with the loading coil more, but after all what does one expect from an 18 ft. vertical on 80 meters? Not much, I presume.
I now have a very inexpensive antenna solution with a low angle of radiation which is far superior to my G5RV. Highly recommended.