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Hy-Gain DX-88 vertical

In early 1990, I installed a DX-88 vertical near the shack at our new home. It functioned for about eight or nine years in intermittent use and without any real ground system. It did fine.

In early 1999, I began a lot more operation. Soon after that, I noticed that the 20 meter tuning was no longer correct. Examination found that a "rain cap" on top of one of the tuning capacitors had arced over and melted. I wrote this off to having tried to use the antenna on 6 meters.

In mid-1999, the antenna was moved and 16 radials installed and buried. This made major improvements in antenna performance although, as was to be expected, it appeared to have much narrower bandwidth. An amplifier was purchased and I soon noted other rain caps arcing. As it turns out, they apparently deteriorate in weather and eventually break down -- even at 100 watts. New rain caps were purchased from HyGain (now at MFJ) and the antenna rebuilt. It seemed to do fine at its rated power levels (700 watts average).

On January 9, 2000 at 1257Z, in the middle of an 80-meter run in the ARRL RTTY Roundup, there was sudden silence. At 1336Z, when it was light out, the antenna was inspected.  The top half was lying on the ground. The remainder was folded over at the upper 80/40 trap which was broken in half and hanging by the coil wire. Seems the 700-watt (average) power rating was a bit of an exaggeration. Running contest RTTY at 700 watts, not including coax loss, it melted.  Fun part is that I worked two Europeans on the remains. The traps were removed, the top part temporarily fitted to the bottom, and the contest was finished using 20, 15, and 10 and a 15 foot vertical. Actually worked well.

The replacement antenna is a Butternut HF9V -- which has been another story to tell.

Despite the manufacturer's claims, the DX-88 is simply not suitable for other than barefoot operation.