Pixel Technologies RF PRO-1B Review Created by TruthToad on 9/21/2012 3:54:01 PM
News on the street is that this receive only antenna is a solid performer. Lets find out if all the hype is true and if the receive performance is worth the price and effort.
Lets start with the basics
– I have been interested in radio operations for several years and have a few radios here on my desk, Amateur, Scanners, and Receivers. I am currently listing to a Yaesu FT-350 tuned to the local air bands while I write this, for some reason it relaxes me and calms me down after day at work. The company behind the RF PRO-1B antenna is called Pixel Technologies. The name is intriguing and sounds nothing like what an antenna company would have, but who cares.
I have been looking for an all around antenna for awhile, and have spent many dollars for “build it yourself” projects, kits, or fully pre-built. While most of these seem to fit the bill at the time, in the back of my mind I was always thinking how to improve my receive in the tiny space I have available. Had I a couple of acres of land, I may not be writing this review, at least not on the PRO-1B, but maybe on a $1,100.00 IR stepper, but I don’t have acres of land, not even one, I live in a HOA around Washington DC and neighbors don’t like the idea of an “eye sore”. To me an antenna is a sight of beauty, when I see one I always think of how it would sound and transmit, others simply don’t appreciate the tubes or wires hanging in the air.
I had heard that the magnetic loops were good all around antennas but I had many doubts they could perform as well as people claimed. Thus I was very hesitant of throwing another 500.00+ at another antenna project. After weeks of tossing the idea around I decided to go for it. Now you may ask why did you choose the PRO-1B over say the Wellbrook Loop? Two reasons, PRO-1B offers the Key input to shut off during transmission on you primary antenna, and the PRO-1B is American made. So I went for it.
I ordered the antenna on a Monday night, received the confirmation email for my payment, and by Wednesday had a shipping number with an expected arrival date for that Friday. Friday deliveries are a great day to have a sweet new toy arrive, you have the entire weekend to ignore the wife and kids while you tinker with your treasure. From the date I ordered until arrival I had already read the manual on-line and was familiar with the setup.
The package arrived as expected and was neatly tucked next to my entrance way allowing me to spot it as I pulled into my drive that afternoon. The box was as big as I had thought but not overly so, Wide, Tall, thin and weighing about 15 lbs. I pulled her inside, gave it the once over, noting a few dings and dents to the box but nothing to be alarmed by. The antenna arrives in a white box marked with “this side up”, so I began cutting from the top around the tape holding the flaps down, then lifted the lid to expose the instrument of delight, it had arrived in perfect condition. The packaging is perfectly cut to cradle each component and just enough to allow for easy no worry shipping but not overly done. My 100’ of RG6 was neatly tie wrapped and secured, my cat jumped up into he beast to investigated the new toy. The instructions, accessories, nuts and bolts were all there and even has a warning label or two to remind about special items or not to plug into a transmitter (more on this later). All in all perfect shipping and handling. We are off to a good start.
Installation: Being as light as it is and having read the install instructions earlier in the week, I was somewhat familiar with what to expect and do, so I tore open the instructions package and did another quick review, noting the nylon washer placement. I gathered my tools, and made my way out on the deck. Earlier that week I had made room on my deck at the corner and decided to mount it on a Comet telescoping mast (CP 45) which I modified the base by removing the plastic stub and placed the mast inside of an HyGain AR 500 Antenna Rotator, If you are now familiar with a Comet telescoping mast, it makes it easy to raise and lower an antenna up to about 15 feet and supports about 20 lbs, perfect for this scenario. The PRO-1B assembly went well, instructions were clear and concise with front and side views, so no way to screw it up. The one thing to be cautious of are the inputs and outputs of the amp, just make sure you pay attention and use common sense since this antenna is active with 24Volts.
My only issue so far was two loose RG6 female locking nuts on the Amp which turned when I tried to screw on the RG6 cable, I quickly took care of that small issue with a turn of the wrench. Because I had already selected and prepped my mounting location and pre-read the instructions, it took me all of 30 minutes to bolt it into the rotator, and raise it about 12 feet off the deck.
Prepare for Launch: I went back in he house and strung the coaxial cable and placed the control box on my ham desk, tightened up the RG6, placed the output into my SDR-IQ, plugged in the power source, (by the way power is fed through the coax to the amp so no separate control line needed), then fired up the SDR-IQ, flipped the power switch; BAM – CLEAR CLEAN SIGNALS. Yep, It sounded great.
Throughout the day and into the night, and the next two days I made comparisons to my 100’ long wire, and my Alpha Delta 66 foot 40m, My 20m inverted V, my Alpha Delta DX-EE, and my deaf Comet CHA250B. With the exception of the Comet CHA250B all comparison antenna were at about 40 foot high or higher. The PRO-1B outperformed on receive, sometimes as much as 5db. Both the 100’ long wire and the 40m inverted V on receive it was very close.. It blew the comet 250A out of the water on every band, Held up toe to toe on the long wire, and had much lower noise floor than my other antennas. Overall I am very pleased with the results of an antenna about 3 foot across. If you think about it you can increase your abilities by using this small, light antenna to “focus” on the active bands, using a small rotator, this thing turns on a dime, so if you have a large transmit antenna you can use the ears of this great listener to hear the weak signals while you rotate your monster into position.
The RF PRO-1B is a very good receive antenna but it was not until the sun dropped that this RF PRO-1B came to life and shown its true colors. Low noise floor and good signals.
The overall build and quality of the components are excellent, this looks to be a trouble free receive antenna that I will enjoy for some time to come without much effort.
160m – Good, I heard new never before transmissions with loud and clear audio.
80m - Very Good. The antenna seems perfect for this band, better that my long wire.
60M - Not so good, but I do receive but rarely, this may be just due to band inactivity.
40M – Good, Does as well as any of my other antennas, Plus I can rotate this one using my cheap antenna rotator.
30M - When the bands are active it does well. It is hit or miss where I live.
20M – Does well, Nice clean receive. Equal or as good as my dedicated 20m inverted V, but not $500.00 worth better.
17M and lower, ok, you begin to ask yourself is there a difference. In then end, yes the RF Pro-1B does at 17M but questionable below that.
15M – It does receive and does a decent job.
I recommend this antenna to anyone who respects receive operations. To anyone with restricted space who likes to dial in most of the world, it slides under your double or lager bed with on problem. Also to to any HAM that has a radio with a receive only antenna input, you won’t be disappointed, and I bet it may hear better or as good on your main transmit antenna.
Go Get Yourself One!!