I've been using a prototype AXE1 all summer, so I thought I'd share my experience.
The AX1 (with or without the extender) is intended for a few specific scenarios:
- pedestrian mobile
- backup for full-size antennas
Thankfully, I haven't had cause to use the AX1 in an emergency. (It may be just a matter of time. My 15 year old son and I do some pretty extreme/remote hiking.) But I have used it in the other three cases.
My favorite place to take the AX1+AXE1 is Bedwell-Bayfront Park, on the west side of San Francisco Bay. The park is surrounded on three sides by wetlands and former salt ponds. It's a great place for weekend birdwatchers. During the week, I'm often one of few visitors.
The AXE1 comes with a 33' counterpoise wire. This is absolutely required for transmit purposes (as is an ATU, given the narrowband nature of all short whips). Despite the length, I've had no trouble using the whip while walking, i.e. pedestrian mobile. The wire glides along the dirt trail and slips through vegetation. The whip and counterpoise together only add a few ounces to the weight of the KX2, so extended hand-held operation is possible.
As for "stealth" operation, the definition is subjective. I define it as "operating a ham radio station in public without anyone having a clue." There are times when this is useful. At the beach, you can sit in a low chair, with your radial buried in the sand so no one trips over it.
Finally, the AXE1 is a great backup antenna. Since all three pieces (AX1, AXE1, and whip) are only 6" long, it can fit just about anywhere and be called into service if, for example, your primary antenna becomes enamored of its tree. This happened to me the other day right before a local 40 meter SSB net started up. I was able to check in with the AXE1, and was heard in three states, running only 5 watts.
Yes...you'll get out farther with a longer and higher antenna, but that isn't always an option.
40 meter operation with a short antenna and QRP is definitely for the adventurous. But every QSO, even with someone across the bay, brings back memories of when I was first licensed. When QSOs were magical.
This reminds me of one of the first CQP county expeditions I was
involved in. Out plan was to use the Icom 706MII in the car on
SSB as the main radio with the Little Tarheel screwdriver
antenna mounted on the liftgate. The it proved too hard to tune
the antenna with the Icom, so I switched to the backup K3/10
which made tuning the antenna easy.
I was running 10 watts. (Having started the contest at 100W, we
couldn't enter as QRP.) Late in the evening, I tried to make
contacts on 80M, where the Tarheel is more of a preselector than
an antenna. I made a few QSOs, and every station said, "You're
way down in the noise, but we'll try to make it work." Many
thanks to them for trying.
My lovely wife took pity on me and a new 100W board arrived soon after.
>40 meter operation with a short antenna and QRP is definitely
>for the adventurous. But every QSO, even with someone across
>the bay, brings back memories of when I was first licensed.
>When QSOs were magical.
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