TLDR: Drive new style Cascadia, a single 7' Skipshooter, barefoot Cobra 29LX. Started having high SWR readings. Swapped antenna to 5' FireStik II tunable tip. After tuning, I have SWRs of 1.25 on 40, and about 1.23 on 1, but on 19, no needle movement. Is this good/normal or bad/not normal?
As y'all may know, I have a new style Cascadia, a 7' Skipshooter, and a stock Cobra 29LX. Until today, I've been very pleased with my setup.
Today I started to notice my SWR creeping up. Historically, it's been down around 1.25. But today, as I drove, I noticed it was generally higher, around 2 to 2.5, with spikes to even higher numbers.
I thought it might be loose and shorting out against the mount so I pulled over and checked. Everything was tight.
After checking, I started getting the "Antenna Warning" on my radio, so I just took it down and continued on to the shipper.
Once I parked for the night at a Flying J, I went inside and bought a 5' FireStik II tunable tip. I'm worried that maybe my Skipshooter has started to fail on me. I did catch a tree limb with it the other day for the briefest of moments at slow speeds before I stopped and backed up. Physically, it looks fine. There is nothing obviously wrong.
So anyway, I installed the FireStik, adjusted the angle from about 45° forward to about 15° forward to account for the 2' shorter antenna that won't be flexing as much or perhaps at all. Without tuning the antenna, I checked SWR. Sky high but holding between 2.5 and 3 across all channels with the red tip off. (I know this isn't the right way. I was purely curious...tinkering.)
Red tip on, doors closed, windows up, and switched to channel 1. Calibrated external SWR meter on FWD and then switched to REF to check: 2.5
Switched to channel 40. Recalibrated meter on FWD and then switched to REF: Zero needle movement (stuck on 1)
Okay, so electrically short, right? Need to make the antenna longer.
Red tip off, loosen set screw/locking nut and then turned left to lengthen about two turns, red tip back on. Doors closed and windows up.
Reaccomplished the above 1 and 40 checks. Results: 2.3 on 40, and 1.1 on 1. Better, right?
Did the whole procedure again: 1.5 on 40, 1.2 on 1.
One final time and it looks like I have 1.25 on 40, and about 1.23 on 1. All good now right? It's balanced on both ends?
Now the curious part. Switch to channel 19. Calibrate and then check SWR: Zero needle movement. Huh?
I then went up 3 channels at a time repeating this process and the further up from 19 I go, the more SWR I see. Same for going 3 channels down.
I find this curious but perhaps it is the expected result?
Very sad about my Skipshooter. I think something happened to it but I can't see what it is.
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What you are describing is normal. I wouldn’t get too hung up on the SWR readings. I only adjust my antenna for the middle of the band, which is channel 20. I’m not on the upper or lower channels very much, so it really doesn’t matter to me what they are SWR wise. I do check them just for my own information. Do you have an SWR meter that’s a power meter too? If it is, check the reflected power and see what that is. The lower the better. The SWR isn’t such a major concern, (At least to me), It’s the reflected power coming back into the radio that you should be worrying about. If it’s low, then your antenna system should be fine.
Quote: "One final time and it looks like I have 1.25 on 40, and about 1.23 on 1. All good now right? It's balanced on both ends?
"Now the curious part. Switch to channel 19. Calibrate and then check SWR: Zero needle movement. Huh?"
This is good. You've got it.
I think it does check that; there's a scale along the top for the CAL (FWD) and SWR (REF) modes, but there's also a scale at the bottom. I have no other switches on this external SWR Meter, and so I've never paid attention to the bottom scale nor do I know how to interpret or activate that mode/scale (if that's necessary). Can you enlighten me?
Plus I might add, don’t angle the antenna at 45°, it’s just all snake oil as far as I can tell. Really doesn’t do anything performance wise. Plus when you tilt the antenna that far forward, the idea supposedly is that your antenna is supposed to be vertical when you’re going down the highway. But there’s no way the wind will push the antenna that far back to straighten them out vertically that much. I guess it’s more for the cool factor (looks wise), rather than performance. Just my opinion.Timin770 Thanks this.
TLDR: 7' Skipshooters DO bend that far; I'm irritated with Right Channel Radios for several reasons; my Skipshooter might not be broken because my SWR problems continue; going to try to a new stud because I suspect the stud and/or nylon washer are not keeping the antenna from shorting to the mount; really hoping it isn't a coax issue as I spent HOURS taking things apart in the truck to route the coax very carefully to ensure no crimping and it stayed as out-of-sight as possible.
I guess you've never had a 7' Skipshooter before, eh? They are super flexible, so much so that you have to put a PVC tube at the base so that it bends less. At about a 45° angle, a 7' Skipshooter stands up vertical between 60 to 70 mph. I posted a video about this in an earlier thread.
The model of SWR meter I'm using is the one I got from Right Channel Radios. Now, I'm pretty irritated with them right now. The SWR meter I ordered had a picture of of a Kaliber brand or something like that. What I got was a generic "Driver's Product" with a model # "DPSWR2." Also, I ordered my ProComm mount from them; when I told them I was concerned about the amount of flex in my 7' Skipshooter, the owner, Pat, recommended I get their heavy-duty stud and use that instead. It truly is a heavy-duty stud and I would LOVE to be able to use it, but the hole in the ProComm mount isn't large enough to accept the oversized nylon washer. They tout themselves, especially Pat, as experts and he knew I bought the ProComm mount from them. Why would you tell me to buy something that won't be compatible with my mount without my having to drill a perfectly round hole that is larger than the one already there?
Lastly, my SWR problems can't (only) be the Skipshooter. It's possible the Skipshooter has a problem as well, but I'm skeptical of that. I have come to this conclusion because I am still having crazy weird spikes of SWR and antenna warnings. Also, the sound coming out of my speaker is very "fan-like", similar to the way you hear your voice reflected back at you when you talk into a fan. I'm going to try replacing the stud and nylon washer because maybe that is somehow failing to keep the antenna from touching the mount and shorting it out. If that doesn't work then what's left? Coax, right? That's the thing I am hoping it isn't and anothe reason why I'm irritated with Right Channel Radios; I literally bought the most expensive, most shielded, purportedly the strongest coax they offer. If it's broken somewhere even though I've never bent or crimped it anywhere, I'm going to be pissed.
I know I could test for continuity (and the lack thereof) in certain places, but I don't have an electrical tester and I'd have to wait until I get back home until I could borrow my father-in-law to come test it for me. (He's weird about his tools; I'd just borrow it from him if he'd let me, but he never lets anyone borrow any of his stuff.)
I have a few stupid questions seeing I am new to this ... lol
1 - did you check the antenna before replacing it for cracks?
2 - did you do a continuity test on the antenna and bend it slightly to see if the continuity changes?
3 - did you take off the mount and reattach it to see if there is any crap that got into the "connection" between the mount and the mirror arm?
4 - did you check the coax connector to see if water got into the connector when there was a hit on the antenna?
I don't get how you go through all of this with antennas, mounts and so on. I just don't.
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