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Hamsticks Is Anyone Using Them?

I started my SOTA adventure here in the UK, just before lock down and am itching to get going again. I managed to activate two peaks using a Baofeng UV5R, but am now planning to take it to a new level (watch out world)! I now have a Yeasu FT-70D and a Xeigu G90. Along with the Xeigu I have a Sotabeams Bandspringer. However I am working on a cunning plan. During lock down I have been sitting in my camper van on the drive, using a Ampro Hamstick on 20m (I know sad). With 10w the results have been great, with QSOs to America, Canada and all over Europe. This got me thinking, why don’t I use a Hamstick on 20m for SOTA. Has anyone else done this?
If you look at data from existing activations the most popular bands seem to be 2m and 20m. So I am thinking of carrying a hamstick for quick activations. So I have a couple of questions: What type of ground plane set up, should I use. How many radials and how long?
The other option is; I also have a hamstick dipole adapter. So I could use two 20m hamsticks together. The question here is How high should this be?
I would really appreciate any feedback or comments from people who may have tried this. This group has been really supportive and inspirational in these difficult times. Thanks!

Martin M7BIA

You can. But a wire antenna is cheaper, lighter, and will be easier to setup on a summit.

Enough and of the correct length for your setup and environment.

You would need to experiment to find how many and what height and length works well enough for you. There is no definitive answer.

Higher is better. Best results 1/2 wavelength.

You’d be better IMHO with a 20m wire dipole (centre or end fed) or a 1/4wave GP and leave the hamstick on the vehicle.

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I’ve been looking at those for use on my campervan too. :slight_smile: From your experience they sound quite good and certainly not expensive. Are you using it with the magnetic mount?

Yes on the camper I am using a Watson triple mount from Nevada. About £35. I have some magnetic rubber sheets under them to protect the paintwork. I have the 10m/15m/20m/40m versions. 10/15 are dire at the moment but 20/40 are fine. I am also limited to 10w with my licence, so more than happy with them.

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The mobile vertical illusion is that the bit you buy is the antenna. But it’s just half of the antenna, the other half is the car body. A ground plane simulating the electrical size of the car body is very large.

The other side of it is that the loaded whip is usually very narrow bandwidth. If it isn’t narrow bandwidth it has losses inbuilt to broaden the bandwidth. You don’t really want losses.

However this is an experimental hobby. Why not try it out and report your results?

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

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This is what I have been using as an antenna for SOTA (and camping) for over 200 activations:

I sewed the cover myself. It contains a 10m telescopic mast on one side, a vertical with a radial to HB9TVK on the other, coaxial cable, tension ropes, velcro straps (I use these most often to fix the mast), tape, rubbish bag. (I usually still have a rarely used ZS6BKW in my backpack).


The bag is about 70cm high and weighs a little over 2 kg. Everything together didn’t cost 100 euros.

My KX2 works very well with it… from 10m - 60m

73 Armin

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A quarterwave groundplane antenna will be very effective, lightweight and cheap for 20m from SOTA summits.

Four lengths of wire, cut to quarterwaves. Strong wire like the green mil-spec from SOTAbeams is good because the radials need to take some strain as they double in function as the guys for the mast.

You can use cheap RG58 coax as the feeder. Connect the three radials/guys to the outer (braid) and the other (driven element) to the centre of the coax. You can work the world on 5 watts with something as basic and simple as that.

Keep your money in your pocket, keep the weight down in your rucksack, and enjoy the satisfaction of working DX on QRP with an antenna you made yourself. As some of the older and more experienced ops on here will testify - if I can do it, anyone can do it!!!

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I can also tell you about my great experience with mobile whip antennas. I have been using them because I needed quick deployment due to very limited time activations some years ago.
My usual setup was a 20m band whip on one end of a T-shaped coax (PL-259) connector, placed on top of a PVC tube in vertical position. One end of the T-connector facing up had the whip connected, other end facing aside had a 1/4 wave long wire radial connected and sloping about 45 deg. down. The third end facing down had about 2m of coax cable connected. The other end of this coax cable went to my rig.


The single wire radial can be better seen in this other picture, where I am with our multi-MG Antonio EC2AG and his amazingly kind and loyal SOTA companion, xyl Bego.

With this setup I’ve worked ZL, NA and all Europe with 5W on CW.

I’ve also used, although less often, other whips for 10 and 15m bands with similar setup and I remember having worked JA and YB right in this activation with 5W on CW:


In this picture, I’m with our multi-MG Iratxe EA2DNO.

The wire radial was usually sloping towards the preferred direction. Typically North from my southerly location.

My advise is to go ahead and activate with your mobile whip antennas, you’ll surely have success.

73,

Guru

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Hi Martin,
Lots of good suggestions from the guys and you have already realised that you will need a ground-plane. You will also need something to fasten the hamstick onto. I took a small photo tripod and replaced the bolt with an SO239 socket - there are some around meant for repairing mag-mounts I think, that come with a nice rubber base and coax and PL-259 already attached. For radial wires, I avoid a resonant length, so that the same radials work on multiple bands and have 8 lengths of 3 metres wire, that I attach to the earth side of the tripod/coax screen.

Komunica Power in Spain and their UK agents (Lamco - https://www.hamradio-shop.co.uk/product-category/komunica/) carry a complete pack with tripod, mount and radials. I happened to have a photo-tripod that I never used however I also built a second solution using a plate in a similar way to how the Komunica Power system works, that I can use on any photo-tripod.

73 Ed.

Hi Martin, the hamsticks and any other shortened (read compromised) whips/verticals do have their uses (tight activation zones), but their performance is ALWAYS well down on a full sized antenna. With only 10W, why limit yourself to compromised performance?
I have an MP1 “super antenna” for use where there is very limited space and when I need to travel light and minimise baggage volume (i.e. international flights), but it gets very little use compared to my wire antennas. My go to is a 40m OCF dipole supported by a squid pole (aka telescopic fibreglass mast) - in addition to much better performance than a compromise vertical, it also has multiband capability and is also way cheaper - win, win, win.
As an aside, the importance of multband capability cannot be understated - there are times that the bands are offering no propagation and having other bands available can mean the difference between getting the required contacts or a failed activation.
Like others have said, get a squid pole and a wire antenna - if down the track you want to try the compromise vertical route, then by all means do so, but best to learn how well full sized antennas work and turn your 10W into the biggest signal that you reasonably can.

Matt
VK1MA

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Thanks Matt, you make some good points. As I mentioned I do have a long wire antenna, the Bandspringer from Sotabeams (10-60m) My interest in the Hamstick has been fuelled by the recent successes I have had with them, including 3000+ mile QSOs. I am planning on activating a few peaks in North Wales in the summer that have very rocky summits. Where long wires may be a challenge. Thanks for your input.

Thanks Ed. I had thought about using a tripod I am a photography lecturer. On current count I own 7 tripods and 6 light stands! I am sure I could liberate one for some experimentation LOL :slight_smile:

Thanks for the inspiration!

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Another option is an MFJ-1820t (the last two digits indicate the band, so 20 for 20m, 15 for 15m, etc). I have one that I either mount on a tripod using a homemade copy of Elecraft’s AX1 mount or I mount it directly to my KX2 (like a giant HT). In both cases, I have a 13’ counterpoise wire. I’ve used it for a number of summits and it never fails to surprise me (have made contacts from Virginia to the US West Coast, Finland, and France).

For use with your G90, I’d buy or build a tripod mount and run coax to your radio. I think these antennas can take the full 20w power of the G90, but you’ll want to check.

Here’s a short write-up of what I did for the 6m version and my VX-7r HT:


I wrote that post before getting the KX2 and finding out how well the 20m version worked on the KX2.

Also, my QRZ bio pic is me using the tripod-mounted 1820t on Reddish Knob (w4v/HB-002) with my FT-817nd.

Chris

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My first 75 or so activations were with a Buddistick. I switched to using either a linked dipole or just a wire and a fiberglass pole and never went back. The performance is better (especially the SOTAbeams linked dipole) and they are lighter.

VK1MA makes a good point that the hamstick will work better on a tight summit, but that’s the only benefit I’ve found.

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I’ve been using hamsticks on 17, 20 and 30 for awhile now with success. While wires are more efficient, my hamsticks with 2 radials have been performing well. I was even picked up on the RBN in Namibia from Maine on 17!

They are super fast and easy monobanders.

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Thanks for sharing that. As people have mentioned they are a compromise, BUT they are fast to erect and get the job done. I am going to experiment, watch this space!

I recently had a contact from a hill in The Lake District with a guy using an 80m hamstick on top of his car in Leicester, so they do work, even on 80m which is just a whole heap of crazy in a lot of ways when you see how much wire is coiled at the bottom of one!

Expect QSB with this kind of antenna and attenuated signals but hey with a few sunspots you’ll probably be laughing.

If it is convenient enough over other options then it is the right choice. You only ever make contacts with antennas that are in the air!

I use a Super Antenna MP1 which is quite expensive compared to a Hamstick but I’ve been well chuffed with the performance, compared to what I was expecting, and that only ever uses one radial per band.

Regards, Mark. M0NOM

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