<<< Hi Gary, I have been following this 'Baby FSL' thread for a while and have seen that you have found a 384p variable that works very well for you. I have also noticed that there seem to be a couple of different, but very similar, 384p, 8:1 drive, variables. One is about three times the price of the other at $63US (near $100 Canadian). That makes me wonder what it is about that one that makes it perform better for you. Is it simply the 8:1 drive, or is it something else? I can't see how that beautiful machined looking frame would change it's performance much. Have you tried the $20 version at Mikes Electronics? I will likely build one myself, but at about $100 US ($130 CDN) for 100 feet of litz wire (enough for three Baby FSLs, but it seems to be the only way to buy it), another $100 CDN for the ferrite rods (3 x 10 rods plus shipping and CDN conversion), another $100 for the capacitor is stretching it on a retirement income. Heck, the PL-310et was peanuts in comparison! Looks like a great little antenna though.
First of all, there is no physical or electrical difference between the "384P" variable caps sold by Oren Elliott and Mike's Electronic Parts-- I have used both in the FSL's here, and they both provide excellent performance. Oren Elliott is the OEM of the variable caps and charges significantly more for single orders, but all of these components were originally made by him. If you only need one or two of them, you should definitely order from Mike's Electronic Parts.
The 1162/46 Litz wire is not cheap, but if you want the best gain performance it is worth the money. The entire philosophy behind the "Frequent Flyer" FSL antennas was that if you are going to spend some serious money to travel to exotic places around the world, you might as well have the best possible compact FSL antenna to make your overseas DXing as thrilling as possible. The components, frames and designs of these compact FSL's have all been constantly refined over 3 years, and they were never intended to be average DXing antennas. They are intended to be tiny little shockers, pushing the envelope in travel DXing WAY past the status quo.
As for the superiority of the "384P" variable cap over the "365P" model, all I can tell you is that in direct A/B testing the "384P" smokes the competition in S/N ratio, tuning sharpness and overall DXing results. Physical examination of the two variable cap types doesn't reveal anything, and even if Oren Elliott has some secrets in his manufacturing process, I doubt that he would share them with me.
73, Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)