The Western HF-10 multiband dipole was born out of Fred Western M0BZI's attempts at working 80m from a small garden. His basic design starting point was the half size G5RV, to which he added inductors on each leg. Unhappy with the results, he then played around with the overall length and added a balun at the feedpoint.
The end result is the antenna as now supplied.
The build quality is excellent and all fittings are stainless steel. The balun housing is substantial and all crimped joints are very strong and designed so that they don't stress the antenna.
The antenna wire is Flexweave, which is both strong and easy to work with.
Out of the box the antenna was found to be resonant at 3.7MHz.
SWR measured with MFJ 269 antenna analyser at end of 15ft RG58 coax (and at end of 60ft RG213 coax)
As can be seen, the SWR appears to go down once the additional coax is added. This is normal and is due to losses in the coax. Out of the box the antenna is naturally resonant on 80m, 20m and 10m.
The internal ATU on my Icom 756Pro 3 was able to find a 1:1 match on all bands 80m – 6m quite easily. Fred had said that his Yaesu FC-902 was also able to match the antenna on 160m, but the SWR was outside of the tuning range of my internal ATU.
Nevertheless, my external ATU was used to find a match on 160m, despite the antenna's short length.
With today's electrically noisy urban and suburban environments this was a breath of fresh air and made it that much easier to hear weak signals. The balanced design meant that there were NO detectable currents on the braid of the coax at all.
I had my doubts about the design of the antenna. It is very hard (if not impossible) to make a multi-band dipole that is coax fed and that will work on all bands. The Off Centre Fed Dipole (Windom or OCFD) is one design that gets close, but other designs (including the G5RV) fail to give a good match on all bands.
The problem is that they often display poor matches on many bands. The resultant poor SWR is often masked by coax losses on long runs, giving apparent better SWRs in the shack at the expense of losses in the coax caused by high SWR. This is why I did the initial SWR tests using a short length of coax.
So I was interested to see how this model performed.
The antenna's noise level on 80m was found to be about three S points better than my existing antennas. This was because a) the Western HF-10 was situated further away from the house and b) it has an effective isolating balun.
The offset nature of my OCFD means that it is prone to picking up noise on the feeder, despite a choke balun.
Signals from around the UK and Europe were generally found to be equal to or 1-2 S points down when received on the Western. This was to be expected as the antenna is only half the length of the Windom. The lower noise level however made it easier to hear people.
These results were fairly consistent – the difference was always between 0 and 10dB down. This isn't as bad as it sounds – signals that were S9 +20db on 80m might become S9 + 5-10dB. It was only very weak signals that were marginal.
The low noise levels did make for easier listening though. I received a 59 +20db report from MJ0CTR in Jersey - what more could you ask for? At the time of testing (August) no 80m DX was heard.
Update: March 2014
This review was written a couple of years ago. People have asked about the antenna's 60m (5MHz) performance. Although I didn't test it at the time the consensus from other people who have contacted me is that the antenna doesn't work well on this band.
You obviously trade off some performance on some bands compared with dedicated dipoles for each band, but this was never more than about 2 S points at worst (apart from Top Band). However, the low noise characteristics make up for this as I was often able to hear signals on the Western that were in the noise on my other antennas.
Given that these were also longer it shows how useful the Western HF-10 can be, especially if you do not have room for a full 80m antenna.
It also worked well on the shortwave broadcasts bands above about 4MHz.
For someone looking for an antenna that will fit in a small back garden, but will allow them to work all the HF bands, the Western HF-10 has a lot to offer.