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The Imax 2000 EXPOSED!

The Imax 2000 EXPOSED!


Have you ever wondered what was inside the Imax 2000 antenna?

After dissecting the Antron 99 antenna and discovering that its advertising claims were horribly
over-exaggerated, I became curious about other fiberglass 'wonder' antennas. An opportunity to
dissect the Imax 2000 presented itself, so I accepted.

The first thing you notice about the Imax 2000 is that it is LONG! I measured the copper wire
elements after they were removed from their fiberglass radomes:

Bottom section: 80 inches


Middle section: 94 inches
Top section: 96.5 inches

That makes the total radiating element length 270.5 inches. Using 27 MHz. (CB) as center
frequency (which this antenna was designed for), that makes the Imax 2000 a 0.640 wavelength
antenna. (A 5/8 wave antenna is 0.625 of one wavelength). I was very surprised to find that the
Imax 2000 is not a 5/8 wave as advertised. The Imax 2000 is actually a .64 wave! The .64 wave
is one of the best kept secrets in CB and 10 meter antennas. Not since the Super Penetrator
500 Gold has there been a .64 wave antenna widely available. A .64 wave antenna is the
highest gain single element design there is with 0.4 dB more gain on the horizon (free space)
than a 5/8 wave element.

In photo number 1 I have the antenna


laid out with the insides alongside the
fiberglass shell it was once housed in.
Removing the insides from the 2
lower sections was accomplished with
a Dremel tool and a cutting wheel.
Removing the insides of the upper
section required a planer and
systematically shaving away
fiberglass until I got down to the
copper wire inside. I had to determine
if there were any coils or anything
inside the top section. Instead, it's just
a length of stranded copper wire.
However, with a .64 wavelength
element, adding coils would distort the otherwise clean pattern, so I was glad to find just

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The Imax 2000 EXPOSED!

the wire. The only thing that could improve this antenna would be a counterpoise (ground
planes). More on this later.
In photo 2, you see what is inside the
lower section and how the tuning
rings affect the coil's tuning. Except
for the lower 2 feet of the Imax 2000,
all the rest of the antenna contains
nothing more than a straight piece of
#14 bare copper wire. An upgrade
from the A99, the Imax 2000 uses RG-
213 coaxial cable which connects to
the SO-239 connector in the bottom
of the mounting pipe and to the coils
of the matching section. Just to the
right the outer coil is the brass outer
'plate' of the coupling capacitor. The
'twin ring' match works by moving the
metal rings closer or further away from the outer coil which changes the inductance and
therefore, the resonant frequency of the radiating element.
In photo 3, you can see how the
coaxial cable connects to the Imax
2000 feedpoint at the bottom of the
coils. There was a small plastic
spacer that I removed for the clarity of
the photo. Here, you can see that the
soldering job was excellent and very
electrically secure. Using the brass
crimp sleeve seen here helps add a
mechanical strength to the solder joint
which will help the antenna maintain
it's electrical integrity through
vibration and temperature
fluctuations. The inductance tuning
coil in the Imax 2000 is much smaller
(and less lossy) than the Antron 99 antenna. The Imax 2000 uses 10 turns of #14
enameled copper wire.

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The Imax 2000 EXPOSED!

Photo 4 gives you a good view of how


the inner impedance matching coil fits
inside the outer tuning coil. With the
radiator length being .64 wave, the
impedance at this point is extremely
high. The inner coil provides a 50
ohm tap on the driven element, while
the outer coil cancels out the
capacitive reactance created by the
coupling capacitor and the
capacitance at the fed end of the
radiator. One of the big secrets to
getting a wideband antenna, which
many other antenna makers
apparently ignore, is completely
canceling out the reactance. Even a few ohms of reactance at the feedpoint will greatly
reduce the bandwidth. By tuning the reactance to zero, the SWR will be very low over a
wide frequency range.
Photo 5 provides a look inside the
coupling capacitor viewed from the
radiating element end. If you look
carefully, you will be able to see the
excellent soldering job from the
copper wire to the brass inner 'plate'
of the capacitor. Here, as in the
Antron 99, you also see another
brass crimp sleeve used to
strengthen the capacitor plate stub to
radiator element solder joint. The
Imax 2000 is built much better than
the Antron 99 reviewed in an earlier
article. The attention to solder joints
was much better in the Imax 2000,
and I was very pleased to see this attention to detail. It makes for a much 'quieter' antenna.

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The Imax 2000 EXPOSED!

In photo 6, you get a look at the nylon


spacer which forms the 'dielectric' of
the coupling capacitor. I had to use a
great deal of heat to remove the
press fit brass sleeve, so some
melting of the nylon is evident. There
is NO WAY this would come apart by
accident! Like the Antron 99 coupling
capacitor, when measured with a
capacitance meter, I measured a
value of 4pF for each end. That's
measured radiator-to-sleeve and
again from ground-to- sleeve. The
Imax 2000 radiating element is
capacitively coupled rather than
connected directly to the coax to isolate the antenna base from high voltages in case the
installer happens to drop it across power lines and the radiator happens to make contact
with high voltage.
Photo 7 shows the inside of the
capacitor coupling unit with the
components alongside each other for
spacing reference. A brass cylinder
inside the nylon forms the inner
conductor or 'plate' of each end of the
coupling capacitor. The brass
cylinders do not touch each other end
to end, there is a small space left
which acts like a spark gap in the
case of lightning strike to take the
charge straight to ground. For a more
detailed idea of how this works, check
out the schematic diagram below.

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The Imax 2000 EXPOSED!

CLOSING STATEMENTS: In summary, the Imax 2000 is a very well built and well
thought out antenna. It's ironic that the Antron 99 paved the way for this antenna, but the
Imax 2000 is head and shoulders above the Antron 99 in engineering practice. So much
additional inductance coil is needed in the Antron 99 to get the highly capacitive 1/2 wave
element tuned. However, in the Imax 2000, with the .64 wavelength element, the
capacitance is much lower, which requires much less inductance to tune it out. Therefore,
much less coil is required to tune the Imax 2000 to resonance, which greatly reduces the
coil losses.

So what is the TRUE gain of the Imax 2000? Assuming a .64 wave shunt fed dipole in free
space, minus the losses associated with the series capacitance and inductance, and minus
the necessary counterpoise, according to my math, the Imax 2000 has 2.9 dBi gain. That is
to say, the Imax 2000 has 2.9 dB gain on the horizon over an isotropic radiator. Referenced
to a center fed 1/2 wave dipole, which is the industry standard, the Imax 2000 has a gain of
0.8 dB. This could also be stated as 0.8 dBd gain. Although adding the Antron GPK-1
ground plane kit will not add much gain to the Antron 99, the ground plane kit would add
significant gain on the horizon for the Imax 2000. A .64 wavelength radiator is much more
efficient and will have a much lower angle of radiation (keep the signal down on the horizon
instead if wasting it up in the sky) with a proper counterpoise system. Adding the GPK-1 to
the Imax 2000 (according to my math and previous .64 wavelength test range plots) will
result in a 0.3 dB gain improvement. This will bring the Imax 2000's actual gain up to 3.2
dBi (or 1.1 dBd).

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The Imax 2000 EXPOSED!

For a complete
report of the Imax
2000 on the
antenna test range
compared with and
without the ground
plane kit added,
click on the plot or
HERE .

CONCLUSION: The Imax 2000 will easily outperform the Antron 99 and other 1/2 wave
antennas like the popular 'Ringo'. Adding the GPK-1 ground plane kit will provide a
significant improvement in gain on the horizon, which will noticeably improve local
communications. With the wide availability and reasonable price of the Imax 2000, it is
easy to suggest this antenna to the 10 and 11 meter enthusiast who desires top
performance, and a more visually low profile fiberglass antenna.

Thanks: Special thanks to Copper Electronics ( www.copper.com ) for graciously


providing the antenna for this review.

Interested in the Solarcon A99? See: The Antron 99 EXPOSED!

This website is possible thanks to: QSL.net

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The Imax 2000 EXPOSED!

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About the author:

The author is a professional broadcast engineer with over 20 years experience in the design, maintenance, and
construction of broadcast transmitter and studio facilities. He has experience with high power antenna installations and
has been involved with simple single antenna installations to complex phasing and directional arrays. The author is
currently a successful contract engineer in California and has become highly respected and well known in the industry.

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