QRP POTA and testing the new JNCRadio MC-599 portable dipole antenna!

In late December 2023, I received a package from Jesse at JNCRadio/Chelegance. It was their new MC-599 portable dipole antenna. They sent it—full disclaimer: at no cost to me—for evaluation, but shortly after receiving it, life got crazy and I was delayed in taking it to the field.

Fast-forward to February, and I was eager to take it to the field and see how it might perform. On February 5, 2024, a nice window of opportunity opened in the afternoon while one of my daughters was rehearsing A Midsummer Night’s Dream with her cast. Pisgah National Forest and Game Land were a 20-minute drive from her meeting site, so I headed there to deploy this new antenna.


On-site, I pulled out the two main components of the MC-599 dipole system: the bespoke padded bag holding the antenna and the portable mast.

I knew the basics about assembling the MC-599 because I had watched a video on the Chelegance website that morning.

However, this was the very first time I had deployed the MC-599. I had never even removed any of the antenna components from the padded bag.

With this antenna, it’s best to have an open area for the two sides of the dipole (two telescoping whips) to fully extend without touching tree branches, etc. I had one particular picnic site in mind at the roadside picnic area I chose, but a couple was having a picnic there when I arrived. I waited to see if they might be leaving soon, but they weren’t, so I chose a site I had used before, even though it was flanked by trees.

Assembly was easy: I simply attached the center of the dipole to the 13′ mast, then attached the two telescoping whips to either side and extended them to the 20M position silkscreened on the whip (identical to the MC-750 vertical markings—see below).

Next, you simply attach your coax to the center of the dipole, then extend the mast all the way up.

I had to avoid touching tree branches, but it actually fit quite easily into this small space.

Since it was a bit breezy, I used some line to guy the mast. Ideally, you’d want a minimum of three guying points, but I only had two lines with me, so I made do, and it worked fine—the antenna was stable.

Next, I set up my radio: the Yaesu FT-818ND. Since the MC-599 was, in theory, resonant, I didn’t need an ATU for a match.

I turned on the FT-818 and discovered that the SWR was a perfect 1:1. Amazing.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised because my Chelegance MC-750 is always perfectly resonant (without needing a transformer) simply following the whip markings for guidance.

I should note here that the MC-599 can handle up to 200 Watts PEP—I was pushing 5-6 Watts. Also, the frequency range using the whips is from 20-6 meters. Chelegance also includes two 7 MHz wire elements that can be deployed in an inverted vee shape to play radio on the 40-meter band. It’s an efficient system and has many fewer components than a Buddipole systems I’ve used in the past.


Note: All Amazon, CW Morse, ABR, Chelegance, eBay, and Radioddity links are affiliate links that support QRPer.com at no cost to you.

On The Air

Keep in mind that my POTA site was in a deep valley, flanked by high ridge lines–I wasn’t sure what to expect as I hopped on the air.

I started calling CQ POTA and the first station I heard was DL1OK operating in Spain as EA8/DL1OK. Logging Dmitrij was a good sign indeed for this portable dipole!

Stations kept flowing in. I worked my first ten contacts in ten minutes.

I continued working stations in a continuous pileup until I ran out of time. I ended up logging a total of 46 contact all within 50 minutes. I did spend a few extra minutes (as I always do) trying to pull out weak stations and slower code stations.

What fun!


Here’s what this five-watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map.

Note that this map does not include my contact with EA8/DL1OK in Spain:

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-599 notes

I’ve got to admit: the MC-599 made a great first impression.

As with the MC-750, I’m most impressed with the build quality. The components are all sturdy and nicely machined. The padded case was custom made to hold the MC-599 and its components. Everything fits together as it should and—again—was resonant when deployed according to the whip markings.

Even on this inaugural deployment, it didn’t take long to set up. The next time I deploy it, it will go even faster. Packing it up afterward (as you can see in the video) went very quickly.

Keep in mind: the MC-599 is a low-impact, high-profile antenna.

If you’re at a site that doesn’t allow antennas in trees, the MC-599 could be an excellent option. Other than using optional guy lines that would require tent stakes in the ground, it would have no impact on park grounds.

I love the fact that the MC-599 is self-supporting. This would be an absolutely brilliant antenna to use at parks with wide-open spaces and few trees for support.

That said, it is not a stealthy antenna. In fact, portable dipole antennas are some of the most conspicuous portable antennas you could deploy. They’re maybe slightly less conspicuous than a hex beam or Yagi. Even though I was cloaked by a few trees, the couple that was occupying the picnic site I had hoped to use couldn’t help but stop by on their way out and ask what it was I was doing. I bet if I had been using a wire antenna, they wouldn’t have even seen it.

I would always ask permission before setting up an antenna like the MC-599 at, say, a small historic site or urban park.

I could also see using the MC-599 for SOTA (Summits On The Air), but primarily on summits that are either drive-up, or where the hike is minimal. The aluminum alloy mast is lightweight for its size, but it’s quite large to consider taking on an extended hike. However, for a nice drive-up summit, I imagine you could work some serious DX. Just bring a few guy lines in case it’s windy.

I do think the MC-599 would make for a great Field Day antenna. Since it can handle up to 200W PEP and is easy to lower and switch bands, it would be a brilliant portable option for those operating a multi-band 100W rig.

But obviously? It’s an exceptional performer with QRP power. It’s hard to beat a dipole even when it’s only 13′ off the ground.

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this fun activation!

I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed 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.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

7 thoughts on “QRP POTA and testing the new JNCRadio MC-599 portable dipole antenna!”

  1. The Chelegance/JNCRadio MC-599 also looks like a nice option for POTA from the parking lot where there are no picnic tables or easy access beyond the trailhead. I have a flag holder hitch mount that I currently use with my Chinese carbon fiber fishing mast for using EFHWs in “L” or “V” configurations. If it isn’t too windy to “require” guy wires and if the ranger won’t permit stakes in the ground this might be a good option otherwise, much more efficient than a Hamstick on a mag mount. Cheers, Davey –KU9L

    1. Yes, agreed. This would be an effective antenna for a parking lot and there, I doubt rangers would have any issues at all. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the review. I really appreciated reading it! I would love to hear your comments on the MC-599 in comparison the the MC-750.

    I’m guessing that the MC-750 is easier to setup but also lower performing compared that dipole up in the air? Is it worth it over the MC-750 for a portable setup for doing POTA activations?

    Thanks and have a good one!

    1. Yes, I think there would be a lot of factors here, but in general, the MC-599 will likely give you a bit better DX performance on those high bands. The MC-750 will also give you superb DX if you’re on the coast.

      At the end of the day, though, the MC-750 is much quicker to deploy and lower-profile. I will use the MC-599 when having a higher-profile antenna isn’t an issue and when I want to DX those higher bands.

      They both have their place and I think both would serve you well. If portability is key, I’d go with the MC-750 first.


      1. Thank you so much for the response!

        When I left my comment I had read your post but had not watched the video. After watching the video it makes it pretty clear, at least for me, that the MC-750 is much better at being a lot less conspicuous, quicker to set up/tear down, and less of a hassle. I know that the easier it is to setup the more likely I will want to use it.

        I also wanted to say that I appreciate your videos and your format. It’s helpful, for someone just starting out, to see the process from start to finish.

        I apologize if this is way off-topic but as a very new ham that is interested in getting started with HF I was hoping you could give me a recommendation or point in the right direction.

        To try and keep things short. I grabbed my Tech and General license at the same time after studying for both. I picked up a cheap HT, a couple of higher gain antennas, and have played around a little with it. I’ve only scratched the surface of VHF/UHF but I’ve really been interested in getting my feet wet in the world of HF and making some longer, beyond line of sight, contacts.

        My current living situation precludes any permanently mounted antennas. The goal is to be able to do SSB and some digital stuff like FT8 at the start and hopefully later on down the road dabble in CW.

        Is the MC-750 an antenna that should be at the top of my list? Any other options that you might recommend?

        Any recommendations for an HF radio for a beginner? Is the Xiegu G90 something that would be suitable or should I go with a unit from the “big three” for a first HF rig?

        Any advice would be incredibly appreciated. Thanks for making the YouTube videos and these blog posts!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.