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AO-51 questions

Is the PL used in mode V/S?  

I'm using handhelds here, and wonder what others have found: when using a helix on a small base and an AIDC 3731 converter I do hear some stations with strong signals, but only a few syllables at a time, and lots of noise.  When using the K5GNA dipole and corner reflector, very strong signals are heard on high passes.

What have you found? What's generally better in this minimal setup, a helix (5 1/2 turns, no dish) or the dipole and corner reflector?
Tnx and 73,
Tony, N2UN
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