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Masts are over rated !

I went to activateTrooperstown Hill (EI/IE-035) yesterday, but to my horror, when I was setting up on the summit, discovered that I’d left my mast in the car. It was a 30 minute or so climb, so it would take an hour to get back with the mast. No trees or any supports on the summit, but luckily I had brought walking sticks, so rigged up a 20m end fed wire at about 1m height between two sticks.
I shudder to think what the radiation pattern was like, but it was enough to get the job done. 6 QSo’s on 40m and 3 on 20m.

So, all is not lost if you dont have a mast !

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Brilliant stuff! Well done for not giving up!

73, Matthew M0JSB

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When I trod on and broke my mast on Holyhead Mountain GW/NW-069 last October I managed to qualify it with the wire just running over bushes. I had 4 QSOs on 40m and 15 on 20m! So you were right not to give up.

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I think a couple of years ago there was a post by KX0R who was unable to get his antenna on his pole due to very strong winds and just laid it on the rocky ground for an easy handful of necessary contacts! I guess anything will work for 4 contacts assuming a few chasers with good antennas and good ears!

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I just can approve that too. The exposed location on a summit with no trees overgrown enables free radiation even in an almost horizontal direction. Being so close to the ground, horizontal dipoles also lose their directivity, which is another advantage.
You also have to consider that with a usual mast height of 6m you are only about 0.1 to 0.6 times the wavelength above the ground. Free radiation can only be assumed at 2 lambda.

73 Chris

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When my mast fell over on a Scottish summit it made no difference to reception but the SWR went off the scale when I transmitted. This was with a dipole and I had no ATU so couldn’t compensate for the SWR. I guess with an end fed wire and ATU it is possible to tune it when the wire is on or close to the ground.

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I have no SWR meter with my homebrew rig so who knows what the SWR was! But my PA is pretty robust using an IRF510S for just 5W output.

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On Stac Gorm GM/CS-118 back in 2014 I fixed the feeder to the trig point and threw the HF dipole over the rocks. No problem getting contacts. I thought the pole had dropped off my pack on the ascent, so scoured the hillside for it on the way down only to find it tucked neatly in the back of the car. Bizarre to forget the pole just once in over 600 activations. :hushed:

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In fact, an EFHW, like a classic dipole, has very high impedance at the ends (~3.2kOhm) and detunes by less than 20cm when approaching.

But when the conditions are good, almost anything goes: I once had my antenna completely in the grass when a chaser called 59. I bravely grabbed the microphone and got 57 as a report.

73 Chris

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Twice for me in 705 activations. Once it was left standing proud where I stuck in the snow by the car. The second was when I had been measuring it for some fittings and left it in the shack.

It’s much more likely to get forgotten if you use a full size telescopic mast rather than the compact travel masts. Full size are around 1.15m long when collapsed unlike the 58cm for a travel mast. A travel mast can always remain attached or in a bag but the full size versions do make it awkward to leave it always attached.

My second time was saved because I had done a number of 13cms activations where I had 2 masts, one for HF and uWaves and a second for a 2m J-Pole. The second mast is a very flimsy light item and it has been living in the car for about 24months now. When I realised I had forgotten the main mast I was able to cobble together some fixings in a MacGuyver style as the second mast is much narrower. I did think the gusty winds would destroy it as it feels so puny but it survived without a blemish.

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i use for several years Antenna on Walking Poles
7-8m Antenna and 8-10m Groundwire with Tuner of KX2
lightweight small space

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Amen. I only take a mast if I know there are no trees, and sometimes not even then. Once on a rocky top in Vermont my only option was to lay the wire on the mossy ground. I got a dozen good qs.
Scott kw4jm

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Have simply laid the antenna wire on the ground in extreme wind conditions and worked stations just fine! Even worse, one time the band seemed quite dead though did manage six very weak contacts, only to find later that the connection inside my homemade impedance transformer had broken. The ERP from my already QRP radio must have been in the milliwatt range! Brings to mind, “old radio ops never die, they just f-a-d-e away!” FD KT5X / W5YA/ WS0TA

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Ah, you do this frequently, Chris?
I remember we had two qsos with your antenna either on the ground (23 cm) or on the picknick table (2 m). Both qsos were abt 120’ish km.

Hmmm, my experience has been different: with the wire on the ground I still had (quite good) reception, but nobody answered my calls. But this was on slightly moist, grassy earth ground (not rocky).
On the other hand, on typical summits, the height need not be too much. Also slight elevations of a few meters give reliable communication almost over all of Europe (from Switzerland).
Re detuning: My trail-friendly end-fed (10m with coil for 7 MHz and then ~2 m wire) is well behaved: the SWR scanner on my G90 almost always indicates a 1:1 match. Only when the last 2m of wire are too close to trees / leaves, the 40m band must be tuned.

Disclosure: this is all based on my beginner’s experience (now 3 years).

73 de Martin / HB9GVW

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Very fine efhw for 40, 20 and 10m. Under rated

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After backpacking for two days down the John Muir trail and then ascending Mount Hooper, I discovered that I had done exactly the same thing. I used my trekking poles:

I barely managed to activate Mt. Hooper for the first time this way
Eric KG6MZS
Here is the full write-up:

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Actually, “Masts are under rated”: Their specs are insufficient for long life, but the light weight carbon versions are handy even if they get broken in use.

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Too true. I am on my 3rd carbon fiber fishing pole.

Eric KG6MZS

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I considered a carbon pole and looked at a supplier who also supplied replacement sections. They were out of stock for the two top sections. Enough said. I now lug a 1.5Kg pole up mountains. It hasn’t broken yet.

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