Taking the new Chelegance MC-750 vertical on a POTA activation at Lake James State Park

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.

Product Photo by Chelegance

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)

On Saturday, November 5, 2022, I had just enough time in my schedule to pop by Lake James State Park.

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.

Click here to download the MC-750 manual (PDF).

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.

What a brilliant idea!

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!

Gear:

On The Air

I started calling CQ POTA on 20 meters and within 12 minutes, I’d logged the ten stations needed to validate the activation. Things were certainly off to a good start!

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.

QSO Map

Here’s what this activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:

Activation Video

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.

Note that Patreon supporters can watch and even download this video 100% ad-free through Vimeo on my Patreon page:

Click here to view on YouTube.

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.

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this activation!

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,

Thomas (K4SWL)

21 thoughts on “Taking the new Chelegance MC-750 vertical on a POTA activation at Lake James State Park”

  1. What kind of threds are used to connect the antenna to the base? Is the thred compatable with whips that are available in the US?

    1. The base and the black extension tube uses M12, while the other parts uses M10.

      The reason there’s a difference in the design was to prevent users from putting the 7MHz coil directly into the base by mistake, instead of putting it on top of the extension tube.

  2. Thanks Thomas, this looks like an easily deployable antenna. There are times when you just want to quickly setup and let the ATU handle things. That 17′ whip should allow for tuning and getting resonant on the higher bands.

    I am going to take a closer look but my gut feeling is that you can make this into a serious CHA MPAS alternative with the addition of a few accessories.

    The manual is available on DXE now.

    W4MKH
    https://w4mkh.com/

    1. Well yes they are both GP antennas. However we consider it as a new GP antenna design that people could choose from – there always be different pros and cons in different designs and choices can varies due to different demands and conditions. (quality, materials, costs, sizes, etc.)

  3. Thank you for the review!

    The Chamaleon MPAS Lite I think is hard to find and expensive in Europe, so having this one on Wimo is great.

    The counterpoises are very easy to deploy but a bit short for lower bands. With female banana plugs at the end you could have 2 counterpoises twice the length or just one 4 times the length, depending on the band, but it’s easy to build yourself.

    I wonder why there is a black extension tube, instead of screwing the whip directly to the PL adapter.

    1. The black extension tube is a part of the antenna element, with it installed there’s more bands that can be used.

      Furthermore, the 7MHz coil was designed to be in the middle of the antenna element, thus the black extension tube exists.

  4. Great video as always, Thomas. Nice to see a new product in action.
    I’d check your iambic settings on the X5105 – perhaps your friend you loaned it to changed it to Iambic A from what I’m guessing is your preferred Iambic B.

  5. I’ve been using vertical telescoping whips with my X5105 quite a bit lately, and I find the SWR sweep function on it allows me to get a pretty good read on the antenna without having to engage the tuner. As such, when I bring my vertical with me, I almost always leave the analyzer at home. It’s just one less thing I need to pack, and I’m always striving to get my carry weight down as much as possible.

  6. Thomas, great video with great content, as always! I’m always wondering, how you wind your feed line coax (RG316 in most cases, I suppose)? Do you have any special trick to wind it and avoid the memory but keep it compact? I’ve watched most of your videos and haven’t seen the answer 🙂

    1. Great question.
      At one point, I used a “figure 8” method around my hand to wind it but realized that it made a lot of unnecessary bends in the cable. These days, I simply wind it up normally into a small bundle. Even though it’s more likely to tangle when unrolled, it’s not too bad because the RG-316 is pretty resistant to tangles.

      1. Yeah, right, I can recall you mentioning the “figure 8”, indeed!

        Until recently, I used to get 2x RG58 4-5m cables and 1x RG58 ~30cm for the ATU, so depending on my luck for a given day – I ended up with zero, one or two tangled cables when unpacking. Then I started using the Velcro straps (I’m sorry, I don’t know how you call it in the US) which solved my problem partially. But now since I’ve got the RG316 (after watching your videos where I saw they are so compact but still robust) I realized the Velcro strap doesn’t work as well as previously. I hoped you know some trick 😉

        Thank you for answering, Tom! And I have to say, I love your videos – please keep going!

  7. I’m used to using a rubber mallet to drive the CHA ground spike into the hard ground in the Carolinas. Do you think this antenna would stand hammering into the ground with the matching unit permanently attached to the spike?

    1. Since you would have to hit the matching unit on the extension connection point with your mallet, no I wouldn’t advise that. Frankly, if you have an MPAS Lite already, you wouldn’t really need the MC-750, unless you just wanted a second multi-band vertical.

  8. Great video, as usual.
    Question about the band markings:How do they work? Manual does not explain. Example, 14MHz, is the section with that marking shortened to the mark, and all others fully extended? What about the other bands?

    Some explanation is needed!

    FYI I ordered the MC 750 from DX Engineering and it arrived last evening. Nicely made!

    Cheers, Ken N6TZV

    1. Actually, KW6G just sent me a message confirming this. He said:

      Proper length of the whip is achieved by setting the whip length using the specific band marks and then making sure that all sections above that mark are fully extended and all sections below are fully collapsed…The band segments that are within the SWR zone of less than 3:1 are wide enough where you really shouldn’t need to an antenna tuner to achieve desired results..Conclusion: It works!!

      Also. Jesse has confirmed this at Chelegance.

      Cheers,
      Thomas

  9. Thomas, I had to order the MC-750 from DX Engineering after seeing your video. Love your videos and keeping them real time. Look forward to exploring more of your channel and this web site. I should have the antenna before Christmas, it should make a good compliment when not using my favorite EFHW.
    Merry Christmas es 73,
    Dwayne N4MIO

  10. I often deploy on beaches in the Caribbean. If there are tree available I use my KX2 and throw up a random wire and get great results. But there have been times when it’s not practical and now you have me seriously considering an MC-750.

    My concern is get the spike in deep enough so it won’t fall over. How long is the spike? Do you think it would stay up in beach sand? Is the Antenna multi band or does it need to be configured for the target band each time?

    1. I got to see your review video. For some reason the link was taking me to your TenTec radio review. All questions answered. I’m going to order the antenna now. Great video. Thanks! Brian ve3bwp

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