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Customer Reviews for the MFJ-1661.

From: Simon GW0NVN
I purchased MFJ-1661 many years ago. It makes a great portable set up and travels with me on my trips arround the World. The coil fits in a school pencil case and the whips in a mailing tube.

Although it is best to use the 10 ft whip. In many cases when a quick contact is required of if you are truly mobile setting up with the small whip is the best option. Do use the multiturn matching coil across the feedpoint. You can then use the antenna without an ATU on many of the HF amateur bands. In either case a solid mobile mount is required.

As it uses the standard 3/8 inch stud there are many ways with extra parts you can make up more efficient antennas for the HF and LF bands. Try a 20 or 54 inch section below or above the loading coil. Also try the 12 ft whip.

On a recent trip on a canal boat I was able to make up an improved antenna system which allowed me to remove the coil and antenna but leave the matching coil in place whil'st sailing along the canal. Before removing the whip and loading coil to set sail one morning I was rewarded with a contact from Foxton Locks on the Grand Union Canal in England to 50 km north of Sydney Australia on 17 Meters. Using an FT817, 5W ssb, the MFJ-1661 with the short whip and the matching coil I received 5-8 both ways for over 30 minutes. On testing the antenna installation with the short whip and loading coil on the canal boat I found it could tune from 30 Meters to 10 Meters without an ATU.

Unfortunately there is, what I feel, a major flaw in the whip design which also affects the 12 foot version. This is where the 3/8 inch stud couples to the whip section. The whip wall is too thin and can split. When taking down the whip for the first time after my first ARRL HF Sweepstakes contest it split at this joint.

On purchasing a new whip I strengthened this point with fiberglass and a heat shrink sleave. Heat shrink sleaving with an epoxy filling is available for cable seals and I would suggest using this would strenthen this weak point and improve the product. It also gives something to grip on when you making up the antenna and somewhere to put an MFJ label.

All the best, Simon, GW0NVN

From: Norman Sullivan NZ5L
I have had my MFJ "Manual Screwdriver" antenna for a few weeks now, and used it in the field on 3 separate occasions. Each subsequent time benefitted from the previous experience. In a nutshell, results seemed to be much better when a proper ground screen was used. I recommend eight wire radials but they can be about 20% shorter than a full quarter wavelength due to their proximity to the ground. Results with 12 radials were noticeably better, and several European stations were worked on 20 Meters phone, plus some Carribean DX, at 100W. An antenna tuner is not essential, but enables easier "band hopping". Without one, the SWR range under 2:1 was not enough to encompass the entire 20 or 40 Meter band. Use of an SWR analyzer is highly recommended to "get in the ballpark" for initial tuning. The antenna worked on 40, 30, 20, and 17 with the long whip supplied, and above that with the shorter whip. A small matching coil between the base of the coil and ground radial connection (homebrew or MFJ product) IS necessary to get a good SWR.
To summarize: This device works within its expected performance parameters, is reasonably priced, easy to set up, and lightweight. For those hams who would like to try their hand at portable operation without a huge investment in time, money, and complexity, the 1661 should fill the bill. NZ5L.

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