Thanks Gerald, useful stuff (and all the other posters of course)
Ouch @ the beam on the head. I have nearly had that. the mast described in my OP came down once, the two 19ele METs spearing the ground either side of the caravan I was operating from. I’d noticed a loose guy and had run out to fix it. the top MET speared the ground outside the caravan door I’d just used to run to the guy. Must have be falling as I came out, cos was down by the time I reached the guy peg.
I still remember Moel Siabod GW/NW-010 when it came down twice in one session… and I have lived to tell the tale. Thankfully when I used to use the 5 element Tonna I used a multi section aluminium pole so collapse was not an issue. It was my legs that used to collapse - usually half a kilometre shy of the summit!
Oh, the SB5 is getting on for 8 years old and has done in excess of 300 activations, so the construction is certainly proven.
My primary pole is still a 7m pole bought from SOTAbeams 4 years ago.
The only issues I’ve had is the screw on end cap (at the bottom) broke after a rare pole collapse, which can lead to you inadvertently depositing the upper contents of your pole over the hillside. This is actually a common problem with all poles and most people adapt a different end piece to stop this eventuality and to reinforce for use as a walking pole.
See SOTApole end caps
I’ve increased my arsenal over time. I have two 5 metre travel poles (bought off eBay for approx £5 each) originally bought to fit in a suitcase. I’d assumed I could take as carry on hand luggage on board planes. I was wrong. They are not allowed
One I use for my pole when on the bike, the other resides overseas in my GI SOTA pack.
About a year ago I bought two more 7m poles from Decathlon. At £6.99 each they were too good a bargain to turn down. Again one lives in GI, the other is my spare G land pole. I’m really impressed with the strength and quality of these.
I use the laser cut guying eyes alongside other methods.
Normally I’ll look for other methods of support which require no guying; fence posts, tree stumps, rocks, even self supporting in deep snow.
It’s quicker and easier to lash with a velcro strap than faff about with pegs and guys with frozen fingers.
Guying is normally my last resort, but on many GW summits it’s the only option. I’ve therefore got pretty slick getting a pole up. I’d estimate I can raise my EFHW on a guyed pole in well under 5 minutes, from setting my bag down to being able to connect the rig.
I have had a guying eye part company after a very windy activation of GI/AH-001.The last one only lasted for 112 activations.
I’ll admit that before hand, I’d noticed a hairline crack at one corner which I’d just ignored.
Regardless, I still use and recommend them, as they are quick and easy to deploy and weigh nothing so keeping a spare in your kit is not going to break your back.
I have had a pole collapse on a couple of occasions. It has never happened once the antenna is fully rigged, as there is generally a bit of a bend keeping everything locked solid.
Not collapsing is actually a bigger problem, especially the top thin sections. I’ve had a couple of times where I’m not physically able to collapse a couple of sections because of cold hands, frozen pole and lack of friction.
It’s another reason to carry hot coffee with you…
Stowed pole length is another consideration.
Whilst my normal pole is fine on my back for most activations, it would be a liability when it comes to more technical routes which may require a bit of scrambling etc…
There’s a high risk you could get the top of the pole caught, potentially unbalancing you or worse.
Saying that there have been a few occasions where low hanging branches have nearly grounded me
There are not enough hours in the day to mess around with yagis and VHF stuff, so my experience is only with a single wire antenna. The wire is generally attached at the junction of top and second pole section.
There is no feeder weight to support!
KISS. My album of pole deployments!
Do you have one of those to know what the weight and stiffness is like?
I did notice that the sotapole 10m is twice the weight of the 7m one. Half of me leans towards the 10m one, the sensible side towards the 7m
Thanks for the info. Like your Flickr set. A few tops there I recognise.
How are you fixing that flag on?
When I was camping regularly, me and my mate could have the tent up and sacks inside in under 5 minutes too. Been looking around following lots of links, and watching Richard at sotabeams useful videos.
In the snowy pic above, what is supporting the other end of the wire/guy heading out of the left of the pic? Looks like it’s going somewhere fairly high.
I was thinking about strapping to trig points where possible, is that frowned upon or not?
Obviously I wouldn’t to crumbling ones or badly undercut ones.
Buy both and you’ll soon be leaving the 10m one at home…
One point I didn’t mention about VHF operation is that you will want to be close to the highest point to get the best all-round take off. A wooden trig block is worth making so you can stand the pole off the trig to achieve a more vertical alignment. On summits without a trig and not a fence anywhere near the highest point, the only option is guying. As Pete says, guying can be a pain especially in bad weather, but you get used to it as retreating downhill to pick up a fence line within the AZ is not usually an option. This is when HF operation wins - the position on the hill is non-critical so you can often use a fence or at least set up in a sheltered spot… sometimes both - right luxury!.
Seen many a party strapping there poles to what ever,s about But you still have to be with in a certain distance of the sota point do note.
AT moment am building a system to use a 8m pole thats either 9m wire on it as vertical or change it to a 1/2 wave 40mb wire that will run up the pole 9m and then the rest of the 13m away with 1/4 wave counter poise via home made Unun like in shape of a bent L but the L on its side. Be more Hoz antenna then.
But either way will be putting on a point about 5m up pole to allow to attach at least 3 guy wires and your right the sota beams do have some very interesting stuff. Me just wanna built it myself sort of thing.
You find your feet, plenty peeps on here wiling to help with there experiences of being out on the mountains yet to do myself yet as only still a chaser.
Perhaps, but this is a much better product then your standard 10m FP. It is actually made out of GRP rather then a carbon composite material, which isn’t necessarily a good idea with RF although not completely disastrous, you will find many of the 10m poles are in-fact some sort of carbon composite.
As with any of this stuff; you have to find out what works for YOU, this is one of the common topics which most will have an opinion on. Unfortunately one size does not fit all, I actually use a combination of three poles to get the best in place for the particular activation. Although the one above is a clear winner as its tall, and you can fit it in your back-pack being compact, which means your hands are free - which is a massive bonus when taking on bigger mountains.
For a mount I use the bottom end from a Jabsco marine toilet outtake and attach three nylon cords to three large tent pegs - works a treat and its totally free standing.
Buy a 5m or 6m travel pole is my suggestion. They fold down to just 57cm and are quite strong. I covered the base section on the three I have with large diameter shrink sleeving to prevent abrasion to the composite material. I have used these to support link inverted vee dipoles and a 2m sleeve / wire vertical. Only one outlet sells them. Wrong to advertise on the firms behalf though - so search them out yourself on auction sites etc.
If you use a decent sized rucksack the travel size poles stops questions (some can be sarcastic) from other walkers as they cannot see the pole in your sack. These will also easily fit inside a suitcase for taking on a plane. I find a 5m long pole is high enough for 30m bands up. A 6m one is preferred for 40m and up. Make sure you drill the end cap and fasten it to the mast with cord or you will lose it whilst climbing / descending. In my case the cord is shrunk down against the mast by shrink sleeving.
When are finally planning your activation? Get in there while the weather is good - less to go wrong. .
Many man hours have been spent giving you ideas to several queries, so I hope you are successful…
Have you ever done any fellwalking before by the way and used map/compass/GPS or are you going for easier more accessible summits?
Now I am asking the questions! We’re a friendly lot on here and are always interested to see how newbies get on when they are starting out doing SOTA.
Joining this conversation late, but I hope my input will be useful.
Johnathan, that 10m compact-light-weight mast is the same product as DX-Wire sell as their 10m mini-mast. I have one of these and I am hitting the problem that G4OIG mentioned - I have an older 6m mast (that if I remember correctly cost €25 or so from Friedrichshafen in 2013), and although I usually pack both the 10m and the 6m mast in the car, it’s the 6m one that gets carried up to the summit as it is somewhat lighter. When I have carried the 10m mast, often I have only been able to erect it to 6m high in any case because of wind or lack of supports. So I’d say a 6 or 7m mast is probably the best compromise for a SOTA activation. Neither of these poles would support a yagi, I’m talking purely HF Inverted-V either the UL-404 from Aerial-51 or the Sotabeams linked dipole.
As you get to the longer masts (10, 12.5m etc), the lightweight ones have an additional problem that they bend over a lot at the top, even with a relatively light load on them. One trick if you are looking for a mast that can support your Yagi at a reasonable height is to look at a longer mast and remove to top sections (just unscrew the cap on the bottom and take them out). This way the top section is a larger diameter and hence somewhat stronger. If your 6m / 4m / 2m or 70cm Yagi is of any size though, the fishing pole is not the answer for you, probably better looking for a different antenna for VHF/UHF - J-Pole for example.
I do use it at its full 10m, the secret to holding a wire up that high is to support it at fixed intervals up the pole. It really works well then - and it can take a beating in the Welsh winds. Dipoles are better supported further down, but you have the height for a vertical with the 10m pole which you can always leave sections out of it to support a Yagi. I have mine working perfectly now, but I really got frustrated with prior configurations with older poles.
Yes it is the same as the DX-Wire pole - however it does not make sense to order it abroad if you are in the UK. Its a very reasonable buy from SOTABeams, plus you get a cool bag as well.
Its all in the knack of using it really, as someone once said. Anyway important thing is to get up there and try it out then you will know for yourself…
Elastic bands on a toggle!
They need replacing every 6 months or so.
To about 6 metres of polyester cord onto the top of a walking pole. You’ll see it in some other photos e.g. https://flic.kr/p/qfLt1x
It’s a fairly standard deployment unless I’m not carrying walking poles.
I forgot to mention the pole I use for all my 60 metre operation.
You can see it here if you look carefully.
It’s free, available everywhere, comes in various lengths and tends to be longer in the summer (unless you’re on a rocky summit where it tends to be a fairly static height).
I’ve managed 40 QSOs using the antenna at this height with 3W of CW.
Very useful for ultralight activations, in fact everything I need fits in my pocket.
I only use a trig point when,
a. there is no one else around
b. it has an open plate in the top and it self supports the pole.
I gave up trying to bungee or tie a pole to the TP as it’s just way too much effort. Guying is quicker!
As others have said, there is no perfect solution for all activators etc.
Just my 6 pennyworth, I mostly use a 5m travel pole. The only idea that I can add, is about the guying. I guy a walking pole first, and then bungy the pole to that. I find it easier than trying to guy a pole in strong wind, and it makes changing antennas easy too.
I will always go for a rock, fencepost etc if available, as that is even more simple