Back in September, I was contacted by Jesse Chen (BD7LLY) who has been a long-time reader of QRPer.com. Jesse is also the founder of Chelegance (a.k.a. JNCRadio): a company that has been producing ham radio gear and accessories since 2020.
Jesse reached out and asked if I would consider evaluating a couple of the field portable antennas he designs and produces in China.
In truth, I get a lot–and I do mean loads–of requests to evaluate products and I pass on 97% of them. I only have so much time and I simply don’t bother with gear I think is unnecessary or that could be cheaply made.
Before replying to Jesse, I did a little research on Chelegance and discovered that DX Engineering now distributes their products. I decided that if DX Engineering liked the quality well enough to add Chelegance products to their catalog, then it must be up to a decent standard. I’ve never purchased anything sub-quality from DX Engineering.
I also like the fact that Jesse is a real amateur radio operator.
After checking back in with Jesse, he decided to send me two of his portable HF antennas: the M-104 and the MC-750. In full disclosure, he sent these to me at no charge–i.e. free–with the idea I could do a proper evaluation and share my thoughts both with him and with my readers.
He knew that both of these antennas had the potential to compliment my style of portable operating. I also told Jesse not to rush ship them to me as I was quite busy. I received both antennas at the end of October.
The first antenna I wanted to try was the MC-750.
The Chelegance MC-750
When I received the parcel from Jesse, I was very impressed with the MC-750’s custom soft-sided case. The stitching and quality of it are much better than I would have expected. The interior is custom designed to hold all of the MC-750 antenna components. There’s enough extra space in it, in fact, that I can also carry a 40′ RG-316 feedline inside.
The antenna basically consists of the following components in the supplied padded bag:
- A heavy stainless steel ground spike and matching unit
- 40 meter coil
- 50 cm antenna arm/extension
- 5.2 meter telescoping whip
- 4 yellow counterpoise wires with a wire winder board
The price for the antenna system is $250 via DX Engineering and 219€ via WIMO. Moonraker in the UK is also a Chelegance distributor, but doesn’t seem to have the MC-750 listed in their inventory at time of posting (Dec 5, 2022).
The only antenna I have that might compare with the MC-750 is the Chameleon CHA MPAS Lite which is one of my favorite portable HF antennas for its quick deployment, and overall quality. For reference, the CHA MPAS Lite retails for about $360.
I thought the best way to test the MC-750 would be to take it on a POTA activation.
Although I now understand the MC-750 can be set up to be resonant, I decided to use it much like I would the MPAS Lite and simple use my rig’s internal ATU.
Lake James State Park (K-2739)
The weather wasn’t ideal: chilly and very rainy. I don’t let these things deter me though.
My hope was that the weather might put off park-goers enough that I could claim the covered picnic shelter at the lake just to make the activation that much easier. After arriving on site, I was very pleased to see that the shelter was unoccupied. The rain died down some, but it was still very wet–enough so that I would have had to put a cover over my radio outside.
I set up at a picnic table on the periphery of the shelter. I did this for a couple of reasons: first, so that if others wanted to enjoy the shelter, they’d have the majority of the space, and secondly, so I could pick a spot close by to plant my vertical.
Setting up the MC-750 was quite easy despite the fact that–at that point–I had not found the manual.
I simply connected the stainless spike and antenna base to the antenna extension, then attached the extension to the stainless telescoping whip. [Had I planned to operate on 40 meters, I would have placed the 40M coil between the extension and the whip.]
I drove the spike into the ground pretty effortlessly (the ground was saturated). Next, I extended the whip antenna fully. It was then that I notices there are markings silk-screened on the whip to identify spots where the antenna is near resonant on bands.
Next, I removed each yellow counterpoise wire from the winder one at a time and plugged them into the base of the antenna.
The banana plugs on the end of the counterpoises make the connection so easy and secure. I do prefer this to having to unscrew and tighten a ground lug (I worry about dropping the screw on the forest floor and losing it!). The banana jack looks to be a common size so replacing them or building more would be pretty easy.
Once the counterpoises are all inserted and extended, I imagine it gives the antenna a proper omnidirectional pattern.
I believe I note in the activation video–which includes the full set up–that the quality and machining of the MC-750 seems to be excellent.
With the antenna fully-deployed, I was ready to set up the Xiegu X5105 and hit the air!
- Xiegu X5105
- Chelegance MC-750 (DX Engineering US, WIMO EU, Moonraker UK)
- CW Morse Outdoor Double Paddle With Steel Base
- Spec-Ops Brand T.H.E. Pack EDC
- Tom Bihn Large Travel Tray
- Rite In The Rain Weatherproof Cover/Pouch (affiliate link)
- Moleskine Cahier Journal (affiliate link)
- GraphGear 0.9mm 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil (affiliate link)
- Camera: OSMO Action Camera with Joby tripod (affiliate links)
On The Air
The 20 meter band was so strong, I stayed on it for the rest of the activation.
All in all, I worked a total of 33 stations in 37 minutes! Woot!
One thing I did notice in this activation was how sloppy my keying was. This was the first time I’d used the X5105 in quite a while–about 6 months, I believe. I didn’t take the X5105 to Canada this summer and I also lent it to a friend who traveled to Ireland for an extended vacation.
I find that Xiegu electronic keyer spacing is a bit different than my other radios–I struggle to key accurately with “full break-in” operation engaged. Since this activation, I’ve added a 350ms T/R delay and that has helped a lot.
Here’s what this activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:
Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation. As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time. In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop them from inserting ads before and after my videos.
MC-750 Initial Thoughts
So far, I’m very pleased with the MC-750.
What pleases me most, in truth, is the overall quality of the antenna. With verticals like this, my first concern is how well they’ll hold up in the field especially if they fall over.
While I haven’t tried to knock this one down, I should think it would survive. The only potential weak point would be the 40 meter coil if in use and that’s only because it’s a smaller segment; it also feels well-built, though.
Indeed, all components all feel very solid. The stainless whip extends easily, but the sections have the right amount of friction fit to hold them in place. The connection point threads between the base, extension, coil, and whip all feel well-machined and precise.
So far, so good!
I also love the padded bag they include with this antenna. For a POTA activator, it’s ideal. Just throw it in your vehicle and off you go! Of course, for SOTA, I would remove the antenna components from the padded bag and store them in my SOTA backpack. They take up about the same amount of space as my CHA MPAS Lite.
Again, I’ve since learned that you can adjust the whip height to make the MC-750 resonant or near-resonant on all bands. I will give this a go as well when I take my RigExpert to the field.
I’ll be using the MC-750 in several more field reports and videos in the near future.
I hope you enjoy the field report and my activation videos as much as I enjoy creating them.
Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.
As I mentioned before, the Patreon platform connected to Vimeo make it possible for me to share videos that are not only 100% ad-free, but also downloadable for offline viewing. The Vimeo account also serves as a third backup for my video files.
Thank you so very much!
Cheers & 72,