DISCLAIMER: I don’t want this posting to come across as being “Anti-Arrow.” I love and use the normal 146/437-10 LEO satellite antenna. I have two of them!
However, I do want to share my thoughts about the Alaskan Arrow, model 146/437-14.
J. Boyd, NI3B, recently made this comment on the AMSAT-BB email list about the Alaskan Arrow:
Pros: Having those extra elements makes it so much easier to lock onto a
bird and reach it with less power.
Cons: It weighs as much as a baseball bat. Holding one of those things
up in the air for fourteen minutes and your arms will look like Popeye
the Sailor Man at LOS. You're going to need a tripod, or at least a
camera monopod to brace it against the ground.
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend buying an Alaskan Arrow if you already own a regular 146/437-10 Arrow. I recently bought one and have already sold it after some field trials.
Basically, it works well. Nothing is wrong with it. For $140 without the diplexer, it’s a bit steep. I think the value proposition is not quite beneficial enough.
For someone who has a regular Arrow, there is little noticeable improvement for 95% of all passes and operating. My normal Arrows can work every current bird from AOS to LOS assuming I have a clear path to the horizon.
If you do not own an Arrow antenna, I would suggest buying the 146/437-10 model. You can easily hold this antenna in your hand or easily mount it to a tripod if you desire. Mounting the Alaskan one to a tripod is do-able but you’ll definitely want some counterweight.
Update: December 8, 2016: One good reason to buy an AK Arrow for your “first” Arrow is that it can be broken down and used in sections: one or two-thirds the original size. The 1/3 sized AK Arrow is very similar to my favorite short-Arrow configuration. Therefore, if you want to spend the extra dollars for an AK Arrow you do buy yourself some added versatility.
As pointed out by the gentleman mentioned above who claimed “Popeye Arms” are a side effect for using this antenna, he is spot-on. I am not a fan of using tripods and the Alaskan Arrow almost forces you to use one. The Alaskan Arrow is unwieldy and not as easily portable as a regular Arrow.
Having made several thousand contacts with an Arrow in the field, I cannot justify using the Alaskan Arrow as a replacement. I bought one thinking I would use it on our RV adventures.
I’m not dismissing there is extra gain in an Alaskan Arrow. KG5CCI made some great transatlantic contacts with his in 2015. However, bear in mind that contact distances over 7,000km have been made for years with the regular Arrow.
I’m a fan of the standard Arrow LEO antenna. For extreme DXing, home/permanent mounting, I’m confident the AK Arrow works great.
A great collection of Arrows at the 2014 AMSAT Space Symposium