I have mentioned my BuddiPole antenna before. I think BuddiPole tends to elicit some strong responses from folks. There is the camp that swears BuddiPole is too expensive for what you get. There are those that feel BuddiPole is poorly made. And finally there are those that absolutely love BuddiPole products. I fall strongly into the latter group.
BuddiPole isn’t inexpensive. A basic deluxe package with 9-foot tripod is $400, or $475 for the 16-foot tripod version. Everyone has to make a value judgement for themselves, but in my opinion, you are getting a high-quality set of integrated parts that function well and does the job it is intended for quite well: a light-weight, quick to assemble portable antenna that uses tapped loading coils to provide multi-band coverage from 40-meters to 2-meters. With a couple of accessory parts it is easy to make full size (half-wave dipoles or quarter-wave verticals) from 20-meters and up, or 2 or 3 element beams for 10 meters and up.
Those that feel BuddiPole is poorly made are usually complaining about broken adjustable whips that will break/bend if the antenna falls over. Those folks have usually NOT installed the guy-wire kit per the instructions. The antenna was meant to be portable. It can be setup in 10 minutes and taken down and stowed away in the same amount of time. There is little reason to leave it up during storms, or to not use the simple tent-stake guys to keep it from falling over. If you take care of it, it will perform its intended job for a long time.
Personally I’m not a fan of shortened antennas. Short = small = lighter weight for sure, but performance suffers. While you do have to use coils on the lower frequency bands, their use is optional on 20-meters, and not required at all from 17 to 2-meters. A full-size 1/4 wave 20-meter vertical is a fantastic performing antenna since the take-off angle is low. Even with a single elevated 1/4 wave counterpoise, losses due to radiation resistance are not substantial. It is easy to change bands by adjusting coils or adding/removing sections. Preliminary positions are color coded.
Little things like velcro straps to hold cables in place and attach guys, and things like multiple pockets to hold parts in the nylon carry bags strike me as the height of customer-centered design. These guys clearly use the product themselves and constantly think of ways to improve it and make it easier to use. BuddiPole continues to add accessory parts to the product line to reduce weight, increase performance, or add new configurations.
Post Hurricane Irene, after my primary antenna had beed damaged by the storm, I had a full performance 20-meter vertical antenna on the air in under 15 minutes.
Nothing is perfect, and BuddiPole isn’t either. My biggest complaint is that the shop seems so busy with orders that they are somewhat slow in responding to queries via email (expect it to take a day or two), and their website is substantially behind the times in terms of missing products. A bit more focus on that area would make the BuddiPole experience top in class. However, they do stand behind their products. One of my accessory arms, several years old, came apart. They sent out a replacement free of charge. And as the product has evolved over the years, they try to work with their customers to make sure older parts can be used as is, or adapted.
Thanks BuddiPole (JD, Chris and others) for a wonderful product.