today I’m looking for suggestions about pole guying. Normally I use (the stump of) a tree or some bushes to bring up my 6m pole in an upright position. For me personally using the cross at the summit is no option, I don’t want to disturb other hikers with my wires and the noise … so I usually look for a quiet place a bit away from the summit.
Most of the time a tree or some bushes are available … but not on all summits! So I’m thinking of building myself a lightweight pole guying kit to take with me just in case I need it! I’m sure a lot of you ham’s are using very different things for guying your poles!
Found this little thing on SOTABEAMS:
So please let me know what you use … and don’t hesitate to add pictures!
my favourite “thing” is this pole support from Decathlon (costs +/- 4€)
Quick to setup, and holds a 6m pole well enough for the time of an activation
(unless there is a storm, but then I don’t activate, hi)
The pin unscrews and can be stored inside the yellow plastic part, and all fits in my backpack
The only “guying” in that case, is the antenna wire itself (two wires if I use a link dipole, one wire if I use the random endfed, like here
Of course , there must be some soil on the summit to stick that pin in, but if you can’t stick that pin in the ground, I guess you won’t get 3 herrings for guying in the ground either !
In the picture above, from my recent tour, I was unlucky, the ground was frozen, so no pins in the ground … luckily enough, the pile of snow held my yellow base + pole as well
Other thing I always carry, is three “bungee cords” of different lengths, for fixing the pole if there is a suitable support … like in this picture (on EA6/MA-048 Fumat, 2017)
I use those sotabeams rings you found. I have three ropes tied on, with an adjustable knot at the other end. Makes it easier to setup when I don’t have to tie extra knots. I also use a bright orange rope, which helps make them more visible if there are other people around.
It was very windy during the VHF contest these photos are from, but I had no problem keeping the pole up with the antennas on it with only three guy ropes. (I was more worried about the cows when they walked through)
Hi Martin, Richard has those in different sizes and some with just two holes - one for the mast and one for the guy rope. This one is usefull to stabilise a mast that is leaning. i use one on mast home station antenna (where I also use fibreglass poles).
If you are using a dipole of some kind the two wires of the antenna can act effectively as guy ropes and the addition of a third make the whole set-up quite stable. In fact the SOTABeams band hopper is intended to be guyed in this way and the feedpoint connection has a hole and a guy rope for this very purpose.
One also needs to think how to stabilise the base if there is nothing to keep the base in one place. If the summit is not totally made of stone, I often use a plastic screw-in sun umbrella base and drop the FG mast into where the umbrella would normally go.
Thanks Luc, after spending 15 minutes registering using their stupid web form, I was able to buy the item. Shame the shipping is amost as much as the item, but it’s cheap anyway - (there’s no branch near me, so the shipping cost is worth it) - it’s going to be a LOT lighter than the Sun Umbrella screw-in base!
Guying a telescoping pole is easy. All you need is a thick rubber band - or two - and some small guy lines. Practice at home before trying this on a cold, windy summit with the clock ticking!
You need one or two thick rubber bands.
You also need two or three small cords, each about 20-25 feet long, and about 2-3 mm diameter. I use dacron, but other cords may be used. Color depends on whether you want the cords to be visible or not.
Before extending the sections of the telescoping pole, extend the large second and third sections only a few inches, and wrap the rubber band(s) around the top of the third section. The rubber band should be about one inch below the top of the third section, and it should be wrapped several turns, snug, so it won’t slip easily.
If your pole has very long or short sections, you may want to use a different section than the third one. The goal is to have the guys at 4-7 feet above the ground, once it is raised… For a really tall pole you may need to go even higher.
Fully extend the pole, and tie each guy cord around the pole above the rubber band. Make sure that the large sections below the rubber band are extended snuggly, so they won’t collapse later.
Many times only two guy cords are needed, with the antenna wire being the third guy. This applies to an inverted-L antenna, such as an EFHW, tied off some distance away from the pole.
In extreme winds or on tricky summits, three guy cords may be needed for increased stability and for simplicity when raising the pole.
Note that the pole has not been raised yet! The guys should be tied on with the pole lying on the ground, with the guy point approximately where you want the pole to be after the pole is raised.
Lay the guy lines out in suitable directions. This is a judgment call based on the situation you have, the wind direction, the direction of the wire, the summit details, etc.
Tie each guy to a rock, rock formation, tree, bush, or other available anchor. Usually it’s not necessary to bring tent stakes or other devices for anchors. Rocks often work best, because they can be moved to make adjustments. Tie each line somewhat loose so the pole can be raised easily.
Attach the antenna wire to the pole, and lay it out near where you want it to be.
Raise the pole and see if any adjustments are needed. Often it may take a couple of tries to adjust the guys. Sometimes the pole will stand well enough that the guys can be adjusted just by moving one of more rocks.
The guys must not be too tight, or the pole may collapse; or one or more anchors may move or let go eventually.
Tie the far end of the antenna to whatever support is available.
Make any other adjustments needed, connect the wire, and operate!
I have used this system in winds so extreme that I had trouble standing and moving. I’ve had the pole making all sorts of noises, gyrating and dancing all around, with the wire singing in the wind!
On high alpine summits, guying is often the only practical way to get the wire up where it will perform well. While it’s possible to stick a pole down in the rocks, in high winds the leverage on a pole is so great that it may be broken unless it is guyed.
In extreme winds, setting up in the lee or wind shadow of the peak is essential. It is much better to set up even 50 vertical feet below the top, if high winds exist. This makes for a much better activation, and the reduction in performance is often negligible. Many times I’ve sat down in a hole on a talus slope, with the pole guyed as described here, and the wind is roaring over the summit so strongly that it’s dangerous to be there!
After some experience guying poles in high winds, it becomes easier. Knowing that you can set up well below a summit, avoiding the worst of the winds, gives confidence that you can succeed and enjoy your activation!
When a pole is guyed as described here, it can be raised and tilted over at any time, and then put right back up. This makes it very easy to open a link, to make an adjustment, or to move the far end of the wire to a different support.
Since I use a 5 element 2m yagi in conjunction with an HF dipole (when the wind allows two antennas to be erected on the pole), I use the SOTAbeams rotating guy ring which I have found to be excellent (… presumably other rotating guy rings are available). The simple guying rings shown in your post are fine for light loads, but I have had two of them shatter in strong winds with the subsequent collapse of the pole.
A rotating guy ring may be overkill, but I consider it worthwhile even when I am using a lightweight antenna such as a vertical. I also use fluorescent orange guys which are somewhat thicker than required so that they can be easily seen. It is amazing how many people lose the use of their near sight when on summits! Their dogs are no better!
Martin, I tried to guy a pole and mount a dipole on it for my first SOTA activation years ago. That was the last time. When using an EFHW wire deployed in an inverted-L, the pole is “braced” and never has to be guyed. It is so much simpler! If there are bushes are trees, I lean the pole there, but if not, I have always been able to find a place where I can stick the base of the pole between rocks (or build something of a cairn in a few minutes) pulling the pole to one side, the pole is braced, no guys needed. - 73, Fred KT5X (aka WS0TA)
You can save some money and use a cable tie with some cord, I have used some foam on the inside to make it kinder on my pole and taped over it with electrician tape to help hold it place been using it now for over two years.
I do carry a few spare cable ties for emergency repairs to my rucksack and equipment ( not been used so far)
At any given time I have 4-5 of them in my pack in various uses – bundling coax, attaching snowshoes to the back of the pack etc. They work very well for lashing a mast to an available fencepost/tree too (get the ones with the eyehole so you can chain them together). You can find cheaper generic ones at Amazon. Search for “gear tie.”
I look at guiding a pole for only 30-45 minutes as “only when needed” Simpler the better in my books. When I guide my tall mast, it’s about 7’ up with 3 cords heading out to what ever is handy, pegs being my last choice.
I also use a 14’ alum tent pole ( as well as a 9’ avi probe) as a mast. It has a cable tie the hold the cords in place. I just do a “round turn, 2 1/2 hitches” to secure the cord to it.
Just my $.02
There is another recent thread discussing this exact antenna and variations on it’s design you and others may find interesting here: QRPGuys tri-bander
I have found a problem with my build that the length of the feed coax affects the resonance of the antenna. At the suggestion of Martin DK3IT I have added a choke and will test again to see if this resolves the issue.
Attach the three short lines to the walking pole, peg them out in approximate position - they take up little room, and you soon get to know where to place them.
Stand the pole upright, and then tension all the guys at the same time by extending the walking pole, and locking it in position.
It takes maybe two minutes - less time than I might spend looking around for something to support the pole, though I still often do that!