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Thread: Evaluating the Esko FP-9000 $31 antenna system

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    United States

    Default Evaluating the Esko FP-9000 $31 antenna system

    It's what got me back into TV Dxing! I've seen the ads for several years- 150 mile, long range HDTV reception. Anyone who knows much about VHF/UHF propagation knows that no practical roof top antenna system will give one consistent 150 mile reception unless you live on a mountain with a 75 mile LOS to the horizon. Recently I ran across one of those ads again, read the reviews, and just for the heck of it paid $31 for the FP-9000, which included shipping.

    In Colorado, I did a lot of TV and FM DXng in the 1990's. My two regular TV DX beacons were ch 10, KBSL, Goodland KS, and ch 3, KSWK, Garden City KS, both always IDable at 150 miles+, but usually quite snowy. I wonder if I'd be able to decode them from Woodland Park today using similar large, fringe area antennas that I used then? Are the old analogue and the new DTV ranges similar or would it take some enhancement to decode the DTV? I don't know.

    Back to the story. Two days later it arrived by priority mail. The assembly directions are good, and I assembled it in a few minutes and put it on a mast on my deck 13' above ground. Like most of the reviewers said- for so small and cheap an antenna, it actually worked quite well! It reminded me of the Samuel Johnson quote about a dog walking on its hind legs. "It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all."

    It takes about 15 minutes to assemble and includes a 40' length of RG6 plus a 3' length of RG6, a folded dipole for VHF plus 4 elements and a reflector for UHF. The antenna has a built in preamplifier with a claimed 2.5 dB NF, a power supply for powering the preamplifier and rotating the antenna with an infrared remote controller. There are three female F connectors- one for the antenna and two for televisions. The infrared remote has two buttons for rotar control. but there is no readout and pushing either button seems to start rotation randomly clockwise or counterclockwise. I mounted the antenna on the deck only 13' above ground so that I could see its rotation.

    That so much is included for $31 is pretty amazing. I'd say it's a well thought out and designed system, cheaply made that might last for years in an attic and probably not very long on a roof top, although some of the reviewers have used it outdoors for over a year. Using it for a band scan and a week of DXing, the built in rotator survived what might be a years worth of rotation for the ordinary TV viewer. With no enhancement, I decoded 24 different stations. Almost all TV Fool 0.0 NM and stronger stations are regularly decoded. Some addition 14 stations have been ID'd, half of them over 100 miles distant during 3 mornings of "green" and a little "yellow" APRS indicated enhancement. Best DX was channel 24, WXLV, in Winston-Salem at 140 miles, received two mornings. So Esko and your long range reception hype, where's my 150 mile reception?!

    I live on a hill with 100' or more HAAT and can receive two stations east of Charlotte, NC, at 79 miles, the farthest stations decodable 100% of the time. I suspect that in average locations, consistent 50 mile UHF reception may be likely. I did some A/B testing and, as expected, my unamplified Antennacraft Y5-7-13 was much better than the single high band, amplified, folded dipole antenna of the Esko. The high band dimensions of the Esko folded dipole would make it pretty poor for E-skip on the low band channels. On UHF, the Esko performed better than a larger, unamplified Antennacraft UHF corner reflector yagi, probably the CY-1470, with 50' of new RG-6.

    While not even close to the ultimate in a Dxing system, the Esko is a capable, rotatable, amplified antenna. It would be the ultimate in frustration for Dxing, unless mounted where you can see it. Yesterday I mounted it on a Channel Master rotator on the chimney at 30' and probably won't be using the built in rotar again. Will update this evaluation and report later.

    For someone without the money to buy or space to put up a bigger antenna or perhaps where covenants forbid an outdoor antenna, this 22" antenna is so small (less than 18" turning radius) that it might be easily hidden. Although I have bigger Antennacraft antennas to play with, the Antennacraft UHF corner reflector yagi, a Y10-7-13 for highband and a big ol' Antennacraft MXV-5100 low band/high band still in the box, I'm going to play with the little Esko on the chimney at 30' and see what it does this coming week.

    In addition to teaching, coaching and other work, I always loved installing and experimenting with TV antenna systems. I did some moonlighting over the years as a TV antenna installer and was even an Antennacraft antenna distributor in Colorado for a few years. There's a lot I don't know about DTV, so you can expect me to ask many questions on the WTFDA forums.

    With the Esko FP-9000 costing so little, I think it's an excellent value. Esko apparently makes several different VHF/UHF antennas which are quite similar to the FP-9000, all costing about the same. I don't find an Esko web site, and the antenna directions don't mention the manufacturer or the 150 mile reception claim, so perhaps its just the distributors who engage in hype. In any case, I would love to see the company market a similar antenna made of better materials and with rotator azimuth readout.

    DXing with the Esko FP-9000 reminds me of something I've done over the decades- operate ham radio QRP. The antenna is certainly capable of UHF DX. I never would have thought TV Dxing with a $31 antenna system would be possible. It is!

    Doug Allen K4LY
    Inman, SC

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Thunderstorm, KY


    Hi Doug,

    Good to see you posting to the forum.

    I believe you were W0AH prior to the K4LY call-sign.

    I enjoy occasional, "stupid antenna tricks"...

    Sounds like you're in a good DX location so I look forward to your reports.

    73, Ed NN2E
    Owner / Operator - Murphy's Law Test Site & Thunderstorm Proving Grounds
    "You Might Be a Redneck If...
    Your TV is on 24/7.
    Your TV has been permanently on for over a decade.
    The only time your TV is off is during a power outage.
    Your TV gets 512 channels, but you go outside to use the bathroom.
    Your new TV is sitting on top of your old TV.
    Your TV costs more than all of your other furniture.
    Your deer-stand has a TV antenna on it.
    Your cable provider has no idea that you exist."
    Jeff Foxworthy

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