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Mast Vs Tree

99% of the time I’m using a tree for support of my 40M EFHW. I have a Sotabeams tactical mini mast as a backup.

Getting setup in a tree, usually requires a few tosses of the throw bag and some dressing of the antenna legs. This process can take ~ 10-15 minutes. I run as an inverted V typically. I can usually get the apex about 9-12m high.

I’m considering trying just using my sotabeams mast , which is 6m in length. The question is, is the extra work of getting the antenna in a tree limb, (approx double the height over the mast) worth it over the mast?

Extra Height vs convenience

Have you tried both, how have your results been? I’ve used both, but not at the same time to really know if one is noticeably better over the other.

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Hi A.J,

This topic has been discussed at various times before, e.g.

  1. a guyed pole / mast is reliable and predictable every time
  2. many summits don’t have trees, trees in the right location or trees with convenient branches
  3. the extra height that might be obtained with a tall tree makes little practical difference to antenna performance
  4. it’s usually quicker to erect a wire antenna on a pole than from a tree
  5. most activators lack the skill and tools to get a support rope high enough (compared to a 6m / 8m pole)
  6. there’s always a risk of support rope getting irretrievably stuck in the tree.

A telescoping pole gets my vote every time.

regards, Andy

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I sometimes use a 20’ pole (about same as tactical mini) and configure as an Inverted-L with the far end tied to a tree. Have found that to work well and easier to quickly get a line over a branch at that lower height.

Only A/B testing I have done is at home: Inverted V with 15’ apex vs Inverted L 28’ vertical and 38’ horizontal. The Inverted L beat the lower height Inverted B on both transmit and receive.

13 foot difference on my comparison and 10 - 20 on yours. Results likely similar.

Hope that helps - and convenience is often underrated :wink:

73,
Howard KE6MAK

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OOPS - Inverted V not Inverted B

Maybe I’m an outlier here but I find it easier to get my doublet, dipole and EFHW up a tree than I do setting up my pole, getting the wire on it and erecting it somehow in a manner that it will stay up, even if the winds get up. A tree usually allows me to get the apex of the wire up higher than my pole.

Perhaps it is because where I activate (southern Vancouver Island) there are usually some scattered trees even on the summits, so I had to learn to properly use a throw bag and some slick line.

I suppose if I had more experience setting up my pole in various conditions I might say otherwise…

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For me I’ll go the tree whenever possible. If I know there are no suitable trees then I’ll pack the 6m mast.

I find an inverted vee link dipole at 10 m performs better than an end fed inverted L at 6 metres.

Having said that, if the hike to the summit is significant, and weight matters, then the 6m pole and the inverted L will win regardless of trees at the top.

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Also here in the north of Germany there are suitable trees for my 20m long efhw on most summits. Meanwhile I reach up to 15m throw height for an inverted vee with flat radiation.
I am more than satisfied with the rapports. So the mast stays at home.
73 Chris

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In the N of the UK I don’t think I’ve yet activated a summit with a tree - so for me it is the mast - have you tried carrying a tree?

:slight_smile:
Paul

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They do in GM!

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From a Chasers perspective:

The house we moved back to in late 2016 was a house we owned from 1996-2000. Unfortunately then there were no trees in what was then a small back garden and there was no tree I could use as an antenna support on our land.

When we returned to the house in Nov 2016 the back garden had been increased in size by 75 feet X 67 feet (previously was just 75 feet X 30 feet) and it now contained a 40 feet high climeable Beech Tree.

The tree now supports a 24 feet HD fibreglass Russian swaged pole supporting an OCFD dipole for 80m/60m/40m/30m, a ground fed 38 feet long HD fibreglass pole in the top of it with a vertical feed wire radiator total height 64 feet for 80m and 30m DX and a ground fed 10m HD pole also in the top of the tree serving as a 55 feet top band inverted L with the horizontal top going down to 35 feet on a pole on the gable end of my house. The 80m vertical and 160m inverted L antennae are fed with a single coaxial cable and a 1:2 unun to give me an impedance of around 50 ohms on 80m and 160m. The latter two aerials are fed against around 3000 feet on radials under my lawn and in the garden borders. For this type of complicated arrangement it is necessary to be able to climb into the top oif the tree, something I have to be able to continue to do for some years yet as I am now in my 70th year!

So yes, as a Chaser Tree V Pole, tree wins every time, maintenance is virtually none existant and I can work SOTA and DX Worldwide with this 1.8 MHz - 10 MHz five band aerial system.

As a matter of interest the planning department of my local council weren’t interested in criticising the aerials in my tree, much to the chagrin of some of my neighbours. The Tennamast and Hexbeam were different though, and I need to apply and get planning permission for those.

Tree mounted aerials:

Feed point for three aerials:

73 Phil G4OBK

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When I’m activating you’re nearly always the loudest contact I get. Alas the trees in my garden will not reach the hight of yours until well after I’m dead. So its a pole at the moment.!!

My 1st SOTA activation was with ‘Pickering Pete’. I was using some great big pole, probably around 20ft tall. Even collapsed it didn’t fit in my rucksack. He suggested I got one that did fit in my bag but it would be more manageable at 14ft long. When I mentioned the fact that surely a higher pole would be better, he remarked that having just walked up a 2000ft summit an extra 4ft wasn’t going to make much difference!! :roll_eyes:
I now use the 14ft pole.!!! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Only a few weeks ago, my antenna got tangled in a tree. I eventually managed to wrench the wire free, but the inner conductor was broken and I had to replace the long leg of the Windom. I prefer not to use trees for precisely that reason. I have often found that there was a nick in the branch that I couldn’t see from below that traps the wire. I don’t like having to leave wire hanging in trees, even if it was unintentional. I do use trees, however, to support the ends of the antenna in order to get them up as high as possible. That said, on some summits there is so little space, I have had no option but to run the wire through the trees.
73 de Matt

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Now from an Activators perspective:

Picture at Iverst ON/ON-009 drive on summit…

I’ve used trees 100s of times on activations but only to use the tree as a fixing point for a bungeed 5m pole supporting a link dipole.

After operating in woodlands in several EU countries such as DL/LX/ON/OK/OM/SP I have found that after setting up the middle of woodland for an HF activation on 20m/30m/40m, that the woodland appears to offer little attenuation of signals in or out, despite the feedpoint of the dipole lying closely to the tree trunk on the tip of my pole.

I don’t experiment with antennas on summits, I prefer to do this at home, so when I arrive on a summit I just want to get on the air as soon as I can, operate for between 20 and 60 minutes and then leave the summit and go somewhere else if there is time and energy remaining. Using a tree as a support, if there is one, helps get on the air within 10 minutes of arriving on the hill or mountain.

73 Phil

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Remember, trees contain water / sap so are resistive and so absorb rf very effectively.

Open spaces and fiberglass support poles have no losses and are therefore the best every time.

David
G0EVV

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Yes, and wet leaves are bad too as I found trying to do my very first 23cm activation at Wendover Woods trig point (G/CE-005) in a field surrounded by tall wet mature trees.

Having said that I have used a just-reachable branch on one of those trees to raise the far end of my 40/30/20 EFHW [with near end on 6m pole]. But who knows if it made any practical difference to stringing the far-end to a stake,

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Agreed David, but I don’t think setting up against a tree is as damaging to signal strengths on HF as most people make out, in terms of SOTA QSO rate when not specifically looking to attract DX QSOs.

That particular activation of ON/ON-009 on 10/06/2018 shows this to be the case:

KX2 with 8 watts to a resonant dipole at 5m fed with RG-178 on 20m and 40m (30m not tried), no ATU, no balun:

1042-1049z 20m 6 QSOs (EA/OH/SA4/9A/G0R/CT2)
1054-1114z 40m 16 QSOs (SP/DL/S5/G4/EA2/I/HB9/GI/ON
Total of 22 QSOs included 5 S2S QSOs

Impossible to say how many more I would have worked in that timeframe in an open area mounted situation but I took the lazy option… If I had had more time I would have used 30m, but the XYL was sat waiting for me and we had somewhere else to go on the holiday that day. This is a typical operation for me when I am able to use a tree for support when I can.

Note for Andy @G8CPZ - yes for sure on VHF and up this practice would be a very bad thing to do! I’ve never tried using an EFHW antenna I must confess.

73 Phil

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Useful for crowded summit, ‘pointy’ summit, surrounded by pesky trees, etc. My 40/30/20 EFHW is 19.2m (~21m with far-end support cord). I haven’t done A vs B comparisons with my linked dipoles but based on signal reports over the years, performance is not quite as good as the latter but perfectly acceptable unless you’re after exotic Dx. But good to have the choice of antennas for awkward summits.

Of course all this ‘mast vs. tree’ discussion is void when I choose to take my HF vertical, which has the smallest footprint and is slightly quicker to erect / take down than the wire antennas [but not good for 40m / 60m / 80m].

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Hello Alfonse,

I’ve done a couple hundred activations, averaging approximately 30 contacts per activation. My experience might be relevant as I’ve mostly operated Eastern U.S. (NH White Mountains, Catskills, Adirondacks, Virginia) and a bit in CO. I always carry:

  • 11 Meter (okay, now 10 Meter) collapsible carbon fiber Tenkara style fishing pole for mast & straps
  • 75 ft paracord in throw bag (for throwing from operating site)
  • 75 ft arborist’s cord in bag, with weighted tennis ball (for throwing to operating site

Setting up the mast is almost always easier faster, and with a longer mast I can usually get my wire higher than I can with a tree (inaccurate and weak throwing arm. However, there are times when I can’t get the mast to work (high winds, no supports). Especially if there are nice, horizontal limbs inside my throwing range with no morass of smaller branches in the way, I’ll use a tree. I’ve suspected that the moisture/sap issue might have been the cause of certain band-tuning anomalies, but can’t say for sure, and yes, should start tracking what I’m using in my logs.
Other possible negatives for tree use:

  • proximity of innocent bystanders (my throwing arm thing)
  • proximity of children (occasional throwing embarrassments resulting in commentary using colorful vernacular)
  • as mentioned elsewhere here, possibility of entanglements up in the tree
  • when thick underbrush is present, entanglements on the ground

To summarize, realizing that I’m using a higher mast, my results have been better with the mast, but I carry throw bags as backup. Performance wise? Only times ZL1BYZ has chased me I was using the mast. I promise I’ll start logging my antenna info.

Cheers,
Paul - N1ZF

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Hi Paul, we may not be able to boast having some of the extreme weather one finds in other parts of the world, but in NW England and west of Scotland, where I mainly operate, we do frequently get strong winds.

After many laughable(?) solo attempts to put up a pole and linked dipole in howling winds, I’ve developed a technique - although not foolproof - which usually works.

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How to hang the EFHW inverted vee more than 12m up in a tree.
73 Chris

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