HF antennas on short masts

Anyone have experience with HF antennas on short masts?

I’m hoping to do a few 1 to 2-day GM activations in the New Year and want to fly rather than drive (from the London area). My SOTAbeams 10-m Travel Mast is too long (67-cm travel length) for carry-on luggage. I realize I’m going to have to compromise a bit.

SOTAbeams do a mini telescopic fiberglass pole (51-cm travel length). I’m confident it will support a 2-m slim jim but what about HF antennas? It’s 4-m high but you can’t use the top 1 or 2 sections. So, is 3.5m too low for my SOTAbeams 20-30-40m linked dipole? I have a (LNR Precision) 20-30-40m EFHW – would that be better?

P.S. I’ve only seen discussion about higher masts on the reflector.


Andy, the lowest I have completed an activation had the dipole resting on the tops of some bushes at about 4-5ft above the ground… I made enough contacts for the activation… I generally hang my Dipole in a tree at a height I can easily reach the center… so IMO you’ll be fine at ~3.5m for the center… YMMV as they say… give it a go from home as a test with RBN…

Here’s a low dipole in action: SOTA Low Dipoles do work! - YouTube

Richard // N2GBR


Hi Andy,
If you want a shorter (and lighter) pole than the 10m travel mast, I can highly recommend the one from Lamdahalbe (and they ship to the UK, no problems).

Here’s the weblink - 6m GFK-Mast

It’s just 32 Euros plus shipping - which I would expect to be around 15 Euros.

73 Ed.

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I use a Lifes A Breeze travel pole 6m, and the top section is strong enough to take a dipole


A 30m dipole works great with a 4.1m pole. 40m is just that little bit long, although I have got away with it in the past.

My most used set-up is a 30m/20m linked dipole, short pole (which was once 4.1m but is now shorter to a brisk wind on the Isle of Mull!), and 2 band Mountain Topper CW rig.

I like The Flag Shop - very quick, free delivery and keen prices.

I have actually had good results using a 20m dipole on the 2.7m pole, so yes, a short pole is viable.

73, Colin

If I remember my antenna theory correctly the closer the dipole to the ground the more radio energy is soaked up by the ground and the more vertical the takeoff. So skip distance will be shortened and I guess if you get low enough to the ground you may be in the situation where you can hear folk but not work them due to the difference in skip angle between the antennas and your reduced power.

That’s the theory anyway!

Hi Andy

When traveling I use a 6 m telescopic fibreglass fishing rod from Decathlon.
Fit easily in the hand luggage (57.5 cm) and its lightweight (545 gr).

And it’s cheap (12.99 £)…

73 de Pedro, CT1DBS/CU3HF


I too have the 10 Metre Sotabeams mast and hardly use it since I got their Mini mast. I switch out between it and a 11mm diameter 13’8" tent pole. Both support an inverted V dipole. I have a KX2 and make numerous 20 metre SSB contacts while doing SOTA.


I used that short SOTABEAMS mast with an efhw for 20m and a shortened efhw for 40m and made lots of Sota qsos activating. I used all the mast sections 73 Hal N6jzt

Pic of activation of HB VS242 https://halssota.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/sam_2077.jpg?w=576

The antenna may be close to the ground on a short pole but the ground at the summit is usually very different to "normal’. It could be rocks or very thin soil. So in reality the ground that would absorb a lot of energy may be several tens or hundreds of metres below the antenna. This means the effect is often much less than you would expect.

My 5m pole has done 500+ activations, it’s about 1.5mm thick at the top and supports a dipole fine. I use 13/0.1 PVC wire and Rg-174. These poles are fine as long as you don’t use welding cables!


I use a 7m telescopic pole with a dipole from 40 m to 6 m with no problems. As Andy already said: A mountaintop antenna behaves quite different from theory for a number of reasons.

I would not bother to raise an antenna higher than to keep it clear from ground. The summit already does the rest for you!

73 Heinz

Ditto here - 5 or 6m poles are fine. When compared to a 10m pole with an Inverted-V dipole on 20 & 40m I have never seen any difference.

73 Ed.

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I’ve used a pole used for retrieving golf balls from lakes. 2-3 m in length extended. Coax into chock block. Home made “ladder line” ie radiating wir from chock block with plastic spacers then into about 10m of wire each leg and string to keep it just off ground. Did have it bungeed to a trig point but modified it to take a guy as well. Folds down to just a bit bigger than a sota wire winder.

Thank you everyone for your comments.

I think a mast travel length of 51cm is the absolute limit for my large rucksack even when put inside diagonally (the budget airlines in the UK are very keen to make lots of passengers queuing at the departure gate check their carry-on bags into the hold, and I don’t want a conspicuous pole sticking out the top!). So, based on what many of you said, I’ll try the SOTAbeams mini poles.

Richard (G3CWI) just replied to my SOTAbeams website query and suggested the EFHW would be better than the linked dipole. But, given your shared experiences, I will experiment with both.

I’m keen to try SOTA on 60m and think the lower height isn’t a problem for NVIS activations and my KX2’s ATU (normally bypassed) gives good VSWR using the 40m setting on the linked dipole.

73, Andy (G8CPZ/M0ALC)

Or stick it down your trousers and walk with a limp!

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Just tell them that you have lots of spare lithium batteries in your carry-on (of course all < 100 Wh) :grin:

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Andy, I use a pair of Black Diamond Distance FLZ Trekking Poles which collapse to just 40 cm (16 inches) for travel. After using the poles to hike to the summit, I extend the poles to their maximum length (140 cm or 55 inches each). I then lash the poles together with a length of reusable Gear Tie, forming a 280 cm / 110 inches long mast which supports my SOTABEAMS linked dipole or EFHW antenna. The lightweight trekking poles provide dual use and enable me to avoid the extra weight of a mast.


Can you possibly post a photo of the lash point showing how you do this?

Thanks, Barry N1EU

Hi all,
just my two cents:

  1. I mostly use the 5m and 6m mast from lambdahalbe.de. They work very well with all kinds of wire antennas, including my SOTA vertical with 3D-printed parts: SOTA 3-Band Vertical Antenne with Loading Coil by mfhepp - Thingiverse.

Whenever space permits, I carry the 6m version, because I feel without any systematic analysis that the additional 1m matters in terms of performance. I managed a 10,000km contact from SV8 to Japan two month ago when propagation was unusually good.

The downside is that the mast is 600+g and thus a bit too bulky for my taste.

  1. I have now ordered the 5m version of this carbon pole:


It is currently sold out in most shops and supply is announced for January. But then, it might be the ideal rod:

  • 5m
  • less than 200g
  • 38cm transport length

The conductivity of the carbon might be a negative factor, but I hope it will simply detune my vertical a bit, and will be with no major effect for my inverted vee / EFHW antenna.

Martin, DK3IT