A Memorable Contact

I’m sure we’ve all had memorable contacts.  You know, the ones where you can recall the content and the events surrounding them, even decades later.  I was going through one of my old logbooks today and I saw an entry from almost 22 years ago that brought back a flood of memories.

Back in August of 1995, my wife and I took our two daughters on a weeklong tent camping trip to the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  My wife had a “milestone birthday” that week (I won’t say which one) and that’s how she wanted to spend it.

We arrived at our campsite on Saturday, August 12th, 1995, and quickly set up our tents.  As is my usual custom, I brought a QRP rig along.  My simple set up for this trip was my old MFJ-9030 30M rig and my old J-38 straight key.  I strung a lightweight dipole between two pine trees and ran the RG-174 coax down to a picnic table.  The rig was powered by a 7 A-H gel cell battery, which was enough power for a week of casual operating.  The MFJ-9030 put out about 3 watts under battery power.  On a typical day, I got on the radio each morning for a couple of contacts and again later in the day.

Our vacation got off to a great start.  While my wife was away from the campsite on her birthday, the girls and I threw her a surprise birthday celebration.  We decorated the campsite with balloons and streamers.  My family enjoyed spending time outdoors without the distraction of TV and telephones.  Back in 1995, smartphones weren’t available and I didn’t own a cellphone yet.  By Monday, there weren’t any other campers near us.  So, we were blissfully unaware of what was going on in the world outside of our little campsite.

The morning of Tuesday, August 15th, 1995, was a typical morning for me while camping.  I was up earlier than the rest of the family.  I got the percolator ready and fired up our old Coleman camp stove.  While the coffee was brewing, I turned on the radio and tuned around the 30-meter band.

Just before 7:00 AM local time, I made contact with Clark W8IHN/8.  Clark was operating portable from Houghton Lake, Michigan.  We had a very nice rag chew.  During our CW conversation, Clark mentioned that he was 79 years old and had been on CW for 66 years!  He was interested in our camping set up and our location.  He asked me if I was following the news.  I said I hadn’t been.  He said I should since there was a hurricane heading our way.  He said it looked like the Virginia coast was going to be getting high winds and “big surf.”  He advised that we not wait too long to leave the area.  We signed off after an enjoyable 45-minute chat.  In my notebook, I wrote, “QSL for sure.  Send a postcard.”

QSL card from W8IHN. On the back he wrote: "What can I say, Craig, it's not often that I run into a fellow ham that I take a liking to. I do hope we can meet up again on 30M."

QSL card from W8IHN. On the back of the card, he wrote: “What can I say, Craig, it’s not often that I run into a fellow ham that I take a liking to. I do hope we can meet up again on 30M.”

Concerned by Clark’s warning, I got in the car and tuned the radio to a local broadcast station. Clark was right — Hurricane Felix was heading our way.  Before we left Pennsylvania, Felix was still churning around in the Caribbean.  It didn’t seem to be much of a threat to our vacation plans.  Now, a hurricane warning, which included our location near the lower Chesapeake Bay, had been issued.  To the south of us, they were planning an evacuation of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Things were getting serious.

We spent the day listening to the news on the car radio and considering our options.  I suggested that we head inland and look for a safer campsite.  In the end, we decided to just head home the next day.

The next morning, I made two last contacts on 30 meters before taking the dipole down.  After breakfast, we tore down the tents and packed up for the trip back to Pennsylvania.  We stopped in the campground office to check out.  They said they were planning to evacuate the campground later that day.  Since they were planning to close the campground, they gave us a credit for our unused nights.

We were all disappointed that our vacation was cut short.  At least, we able to get out of the area, avoiding the traffic and confusion of an evacuation.  As we drove home, I was glad that I brought the QRP rig along and very grateful for that CW contact with W8IHN that had tipped us off to the bad weather heading our way.

In the end, Felix never did make landfall in the U.S.  It did, however, impact the East Coast.  In addition to major beach erosion,  nine unfortunate souls lost their lives due to the heavy surf.

Clark and I exchanged QSL cards but I don’t think I ever worked him again after that.  His real name was Whittier E. Clark.  Doing some Internet research, I found out that he became a Silent Key two years after our contact.

Wherever you are, Mr. Clark, I still think about our CW contact in the summer of 1995 and the concern you showed for me and my family.

73, Craig WB3GCK

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QRP to the Field 2017

I missed the QRP to the Field (QTTF) contest last year due to family obligations.  I almost missed it again this year for the same reason.  I had some family coming in this weekend but I managed to sneak out for a few hours to make a few contacts.

The theme this year was, “A River Runs Through It.”  Stations operating near a river get a higher multiplier for their score.  Living near the Schuylkill River, I have a lot of options.  I decided to head over to Upper Schuylkill Valley Park, which is one of my regular operating spots.

A view of the Schuylkill River from Upper Schuylkill Valley Park.

A view of the Schuylkill River from Upper Schuylkill Valley Park.

The weather forecast was calling for periods of rain throughout the day, so I opted to operate from inside the truck.  As it turns out, that was a wise decision.  It rained most of the time I was operating.

My "stationary-mobile" set up for QRP to the Field

My “stationary-mobile” set up for QRP to the Field

I set up my trusty 30-foot vertical on the back of my truck and set up my KX3 on the center console.  I was quickly on the air but I wasn’t hearing much.  Between some solar storms and static from the rain, band conditions were pretty lousy.

My operating position in the truck.

My operating position in the truck.

After a while, 40 meters opened up a bit.  I had a brief run of stations there.  Twenty meters remained pretty dismal.  I heard W0RW/M out in Colorado early on but could connect with him.  I eventually worked Tom K4AKC in Alabama.  Besides that, I didn’t hear much of anything on 20 meters.

After about two hours, I had to leave.  The rain started picking up, so I quickly took down the antenna and headed home.  I ended the day with 10 contacts on 40 meters and just 1 on 20 meters.

As I was packing up, a large group of kayaks traveled down the river.

As I was packing up, a large group of kayaks traveled down the river.

I sure could have used some better band conditions and weather but, all things considered, I was happy with the 11 stations I managed to work.

72, Craig WB3GCK

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Mini Straight Key by KC5ILR

When I saw a Facebook post about a straight key fabricated with a 3D printer, I was intrigued.  I headed over to KC5ILR’s eBay listing to take a look and wound up buying one for $21.95 plus shipping.  (This was one of two impulse purchases I made recently.  I’ll post about the other one later.)  These keys are also available on the C.W. Morse website.

Here are the advertised specifications from the eBay listing:

Width: 1.45"
Length of Base: 2.68"
Overall Length: 4 1/8"
Weight : <1 oz.
Action: Single Max .100" gap.
Spring: Coil Chrome
Color: Black & Red
Style: Camel Back Arm
Wiring: Stranded Copper
Contacts: Solid Aluminum
Resin: Biodegradable PLA Polymer
Construction: 3D Thermal Printed
Screws: 18-8 Stainless Steel 3MM Socket Head Cap Screws
Nuts: 3MM Stainless Steel Jam Nuts

The key was promptly shipped and I received it a few days later.  Using a 3mm hex key, I was able to easily adjust the spring tension and contact spacing to my liking.  For a plastic key, it has a pretty good feel to it.  The feel is crisp and there is no side-to-side slop.  The hardware used is all quality stuff.  It doesn’t have the solid feel of a more expensive, all-metal key but I wasn’t expecting that.

C.W. Morse Straight Key by KC5ILR

C.W. Morse Straight Key by KC5ILR

Given its very light weight, I found that it needs to be attached to some kind of base to keep it steady during use.  The base of the key has two counter-sunk holes for mounting.  I’ll definitely be making up some sort of base for it in the near future.

Although this key looks like a toy, it’s actually a pretty decent straight key.  At this price, I think it would a great starter key for beginners.  If nothing else, it’s an interesting conversation piece.  I’ll probably be using it mostly for portable outings where I’m operating from a picnic table.

My trusty J-38 can rest easy; there’s no chance of it being replaced by this little, plastic key.  I am, however, looking forward to spending some time with it on the air.  Congratulations to KC5ILR and his son for coming up with this cool little key.

UPDATE (4/24/2017):

After seeing this post, Joseph KC5ILR and his boys graciously sent me one of their new, non-skid bases for my key.  Like the key, the base was produced with a 3D printer.  Although it weighs next to nothing, the new base greatly improves the stability of the key.

73, Craig WB3GCK


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Back in the Saddle Again

I took advantage of this sunny Spring day to get in my first bike ride of the year.  The Straight Key Century Club’s  Weekend Sprintathon (WES) was in progress, I figured I would stop along the way to make a few contacts.

I rode a few miles down the Schuylkill River and Perkiomen Trails and set up in a park.  I’ve operated from this spot on many occasions.  The ground was still muddy from recent rains but, fortunately, there’s a convenient bench there.

My antenna launching arm was a bit rusty.  It took a few tries to get my line over the tree branch I was aiming for.  I set up the radio on the park bench and tuned around.  The bands seemed a bit quiet for a contest weekend.

My trusty bike once again serving as the anchor for my antenna.

My trusty bike once again serving as the anchor for my 30-foot wire antenna.

I alternated between calling, “CQ WES,” and searching around for other SKCC stations.  I wasn’t having much luck.  I got my phone out and checked a couple of propagation sites and wasn’t encouraged by what I saw.  I checked RBN and saw that I wasn’t getting many spots.  I was also getting an S4 noise level on 40 meters.  There was a park building about 100 yards away from me.  I’m guessing that something over there was causing the noise.  All-in-all, this wasn’t shaping up to be a memorable day for QRP operating.

Park bench portable in Lower Perkiomen Valley Park.

Park bench portable in Lower Perkiomen Valley Park.

Fortunately, W8IQ heard me in Ohio and rescued me from getting skunked today.  Sometimes there are days when it would have been more productive to pack a fishing rod instead of a radio.

Anyway, it was a great day to get back out on the bike and loosen up these old knees of mine.

72, Craig WB3GCK

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Back to the Field Again

Boy, it sure has been a while since I’ve done any portable operating.  Other projects and interests seemed to have overtaken ham radio for the past few months.  With temperatures near 70F today, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to shake off my cabin fever.

My XYL was planning to drive out to our daughter’s house to help her out with a household project.  I decided to tag along and do some operating from my daughter’s property.  I purchased a new truck about a month ago and had yet to do any QRP operating from it.  Today looked like a great opportunity to do a little testing.

I parked the truck in a remote corner of my daughter’s property, next to her neighbor’s corn field.  I set up a 29.5-foot vertical using my bike rack mount on the rear of my truck.  I fed it through a 9:1 unun and ran a 25-foot coax cable into the passenger side window of the cab.  So far so good.

My new truck's first QRP-portable outing.

My new truck’s first QRP-portable outing.

Given that this truck is larger than my last one and the configuration of the center console is much different, I had to do some finagling to place my KX3.  I used a small Rubbermaid® container on the passenger seat and placed the KX3 on top of it.  Due to the distance involved, I had to place my clipboard and paddles on the console in order for the cable to reach the rig.  (Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the setup.)  It worked OK but I need to figure out a more comfortable arrangement.  I have some ideas that I’ll be exploring.

Bike Rack Antenna Mount. A 9:1 unun is attached to the Jackite pole with a bungee cord.

Bike Rack Antenna Mount. A 9:1 unun is attached to the Jackite pole with a bungee cord.

My goal for today was to make contacts on 40, 30 and 20 meters.  I started out calling CQ on 40 meters and NN4NC in North Carolina came back with a very strong signal.  During our QSO, Mac reduced his power to match my 5 watts and he continued to boom into southeastern Pennsylvania.  I then moved up to 30 meters and had a short exchange with W1TEF in South Carolina.

When I moved to 20 meters, I heard WU5M calling CQ near the QRP watering hole.  I gave Bryan a call and we had a two-way QRP QSO, despite some fading on the band.  It started to rain so I signed with Bryan and quickly took down the antenna.  I was parked in an area that tends to get very muddy when it rains.

So, everything worked fine with the new truck but I do need to work out some better ergonomics.  It felt good to get back out in the field again, even if only for an hour or so.

72, Craig WB3GCK

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Logging: Keeping Track of it All

Going all the way back to my Novice days in the mid-70s, I’ve always been a bit anal…  er… diligent, when it comes to logging contacts.  Years ago I started using logging software and that diligence persists.  Over the years, I’ve evolved to a logging process that I’m sure some would find overly complex.  It’s actually not that bad and it works well for me.

I use a variety of methods to capture QSO information.  Eventually, everything ends up in one central log.  From there, all QSOs are uploaded to Logbook of the World (LoTW).  The diagram below shows how everything ties together.

Overview of my logging process. In the end, all contacts end up in the Main Log.

Overview of my logging process. In the end, all contacts end up in the Main Log.

Here are the main components of my logging system:

ACLog.  I use this software by N3FJP for my main log.  All QSOs, no matter how they are made or logged wind up in here.  Because most of my HF operating is done while portable, I added a few custom fields to keep track of where I was (MY_QTH), what rig I was using (MY_RIG) and what power I was running (TX_PWR).  Everything in my main log gets uploaded to LoTW.  ACLog makes it very easy to do that.  For casual operating at home, I enter the contacts directly into ACLog.  Same goes for paper logs from portable operations with just a few contacts.  For larger batches of contacts, I might resort to other methods.

ADIF Master.  I use this great piece of freeware a lot.  It allows me to take an ADIF file and easily add in the custom fields I keep track of and do a quick bulk edit to populate the fields for all QSO records in the file.

Fast Log Entry (FLE).  I wrote about this software in an earlier post.  This came in handy last year for National Parks on the Air activations.  When I used paper logs for activations, FLE gave me a fast way to enter the QSO data and generate an ADIF file.

SKCC Logger.  I use AC2C’s SKCC Logger software to log all of my Straight Key Century Club contacts.  This software does automatic lookups from the SKCC member database when you enter a callsign.  It also helps keep track of award levels and generates award applications.  From SKCC Logger, I generate an ADIF file for further editing and importing into ACLog.

fldigi.  Every now and then I get on a digital mode kick.  Initially, I use fldigi’s internal log and export an ADIF file.  I haven’t worked JT65 or JT9 in a while but, when I do, I export an ADIF file from the WSJT-X software.

HamLog.  When I’m away camping for a few days, I use HamLog on Android cellphone to log my contacts.  If I have a cell connection, I can do QRZ.com lookups while logging a contact.  I export an ADIF file when I get home.  After, editing the ADIF and successfully importing it into ACLog, I go back to HamLog and clear out the log file so I’m ready for the next trip.

Contest Loggers.  When I use a specialized contest logging program for a contest… Well, you know the drill.  I export an ADIF file, edit in my custom fields, and ingest it into ACLog.

So, that’s it in a nutshell.  It probably sounds complicated but it has all become second nature to me.  I’m not suggesting that you do the same but, perhaps, some of the utilities and techniques will be useful to you.

I hope to see you somewhere down the log!

72, Craig WB3GCK

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The Splice of Shame

[Disclaimer:  Any misadventures I have had with this antenna were purely my fault and, in no way, reflect on LNR and their excellent product.]

I bought the LNR EFT-10/20/40 trail-friendly end-fed halfwave (EFHW) antenna about a year and a half ago, after seeing one at Field Day.  It’s a great, portable antenna.  It packs up small and weighs hardly anything.  I often use non-resonant antennas because I like to work a variety of bands.  However, I always carry the LNR end-fed in my pack as a backup antenna.  The EFT requires some initial pruning before use.  This is where my misadventures start.

I don’t have enough real estate at home for antenna testing.  Instead, I did the initial pruning of the antenna while setting up for the Skeeter Hunt QRP contest in August of 2015.  Trimming an inch at a time was getting a little tedious for me.  I incorrectly estimated how much I needed to cut to have the antenna favor the CW section of 40 meters.  As you might guess, I screwed up and cut off too much.  Resonance was at about 7.110 MHz and frequencies below 7.023 MHz were outside the 2:1 SWR curve.  20 and 10 meters were fine, however.  I operated in the contest with no issues.

I resolved to correct my mistake and added that task to my “job jar,” where it languished for the next year and a half.  In the meantime, the antenna was used for numerous outings, including a National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) activation of the Appalachian Trail.  I just needed to avoid the bottom end of 40 meters.

Fast-forward to this past weekend.  I finally got around to doing something about the tuning of this antenna.  I had ordered some #26 Poly-STEALTH™ wire from the good folks at Davis RF.  First, I measured the top section of the antenna (from the top of the loading coil to the end of the antenna) in its current state.  Then I cut the wire about a foot or more from the end.  Since the splice wouldn’t fit through the holes in the end insulator, I wanted to keep the splice away from it.  I did this if I would ever want to re-tune the antenna for the phone section of 40 meters.  I next spliced on a piece of Poly-STEALTH™ wire that made the overall length about 2.5 inches longer than before.  After soldering the splice and applying some shrink tubing, I was ready to give it a test in the field.

The Splice of Shame. This is the splice I had to put onto my LNR EFT-10/20/40 EFHW antenna to correct my pruning error.

The Splice of Shame

I was out in central Pennsylvania over the weekend doing some babysitting for my grandson.  As I have done at this location before, I strung the EFT-10/20/40 from a second story window to a Jackite pole strapped to the fence in the backyard.  The antenna was roughly horizontal and up about 25 feet or so.  I wanted to make sure that the range from 7.000 MHz to 7.125 MHz fell within the 2:1 SWR bandwidth.  My antenna analyzer showed that it was just a bit long.

After I lowered the antenna and cut off a half-inch, the SWR was pretty much where I wanted it.  Now it was resonant around 7.040 MHz and the 2:1 SWR bandwidth spanned 7.000 to 7.130 MHz.  On 20 meters, the SWR was less than 1.5:1 across the band.  On 10 meters, the SWR was less than 2:1 across the band.  The SWR indicator on my KX3 confirmed the results.

Final 40M SWR plot for my LNR EFT-10/20/40 antenna. The 2:1 SWR curve covers 7.000 through 7.130 MHz

Final 40M SWR plot for my LNR EFT-10/20/40 antenna. The 2:1 SWR curve covers 7.000 through 7.130 MHz.

At one point, my inner obsessive-compulsive perfectionist said I could cut off another half-inch and make it better.  Fortunately, my practical side was able to resist and leave well enough alone.  As they say, perfect is the enemy of the good.  So, I declared victory and went on to make some nice CW and PSK-31 contacts with my properly tuned antenna.

The antenna works great but that splice will be a constant reminder of what happens when you rush things and try to cut corners.

72, Craig WB3GCK

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Winter Field Day 2017

Well, there wasn’t much “field” in Winter Field Day (WFD) for me.  My XYL and I traveled out to central Pennsylvania for the weekend to babysit our 2-year old grandson.  My plan was to sneak out into the backyard for a few hours each day to operate in WFD as category 1O (outdoor).  Before the weekend, however, I came down with a wicked cold (courtesy of my other grandson).  I decided that operating out in the cold probably wasn’t a good idea.

I strapped my 31-foot Jackite pole to the fence in the backyard and used it to support the far end of my LNR EFT-10/20/40 end-fed halfwave antenna.  The feed point was just inside a second story window.  I set up my KX3 and operated under battery power.  I read over the rules and concluded that I was a “1H” (home) station.

My temporary indoor station for Winter Field Day

My temporary indoor station for Winter Field Day

After setting up, I had a warm-up QSO on 20M with K0WEW in Kansas.   Everything appeared to be working.  I operated mostly during nap time (my grandson’s, not mine).  With just a couple of hours of actual operating,  I ended up with 20 CW Winter Field Day stations in the log.  I’m sure I could have logged more if I had plugged in the microphone.  I just couldn’t bring myself to do that.

Outside of the contest, I worked TM1A (France) in the REF Contest (on 40 meters, no less).  I also had a nice two-way QRP QSO with W4MQC.  Alan was operating portable from New Hampshire.

Even though it wasn’t much of a Field Day for me, it wasn’t without some excitement.  At one point, all the signals on 40 meters suddenly dropped way down.  I looked out the window and saw that the wind caused my Jackite pole to collapse putting half of my antenna on the ground.  My halyard line got caught between two sections of the pole when it collapsed.  It took me about 30 minutes to get that mess straightened out.

My hat goes off to all the hardy hams who braved the cold for Winter Field Day.  Hopefully, next year I’ll get out there, too.

73, Craig WB3GCK

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Camp Run-a-MOC 2017

Our loosely-knit group of QRPers, known as the Boschveldt QRP Club, gets together each year in January for a weekend of operating and socializing in the woods.  We rent a small cabin at the Mohican Outdoor Center (MOC) in the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area in Northern New Jersey.  The MOC, which is adjacent to the Appalachian Trail, has been the site of this annual gathering for the past 12 years or so.  This annual event has come to be known as “Camp Run-a-MOC.”

Our cabin at Mohican Outdoor Center.

Our cabin at Mohican Outdoor Center.

In attendance this year was K3YTR, WA3WSJ, NK1N, NU3E and me.  Walt KB3SBC was there on Friday but, unfortunately, had to leave to deal with a plumbing emergency at home.

When I rolled into camp on Friday afternoon, Ed K3YTR was busy setting up his gear for the ARRL VHF Contest and John NU3E was setting up an end-fed halfwave antenna for some JT65 & JT9 operating.  Ed WA3WSJ and Glen NK1N were operating pedestrian mobile near Crater Lake.  It turned out to be a rainy hike for them.  After a dinner prepared by K3YTR, there was a lot of catching up and story swapping.

John NU3E operating JT modes from the cabin.

John NU3E operating JT modes from the cabin. It wasn’t that cold in the cabin; John was ready for our hike to the Catfish Fire Tower.

After breakfast on Saturday, WA3WSJ, NK1N, NU3E and I made the two-mile hike up to the Catfish Fire Tower on the Appalachian Trail.  Although we hiked through dense fog on the way up, the weather cleared up a bit when we reached the top of the ridge.

I set up my KX3 and AlexLoop at a picnic table, while WA3WSJ and NK1N operated pedestrian mobile.  NU3E came along for the hike and caught a short nap on the bench of the picnic table where I was operating.

WB3GCK operating from the fire tower. This was taken during a brief break in the weather.

WB3GCK operating from the fire tower. This was taken during a brief break in the weather.

After we each had made a few contacts, the sun went in, the temperature dropped and a dense fog rolled in.  We packed up our gear and made the trek back down the trail.

Ed WA3WSJ operating pedestrian-mobile near the fire tower.

Ed WA3WSJ operating pedestrian mobile near the fire tower.

Glen NK1N operating pedestrian-mobile in the fog at the Catfish Fire Tower.

Glen NK1N operating pedestrian mobile in the fog at the Catfish Fire Tower.

Back at the cabin, K3YTR and NK1N made more some contacts in the VHF contest before we headed into town for dinner.  By the time we headed back to the cabin, the heavy fog and limited visibility made for some tricky driving.  When we got back to the cabin there was some more VHF contesting and more tall stories.  On Sunday morning, we all enjoyed NU3E’s famous Belgian waffles before packing up for the trip home.

ED K3YTR working the VHF contest from the cabin.

ED K3YTR working the VHF contest from the cabin.

Glen NK1N operating 6 meters in the VHF contest from the cabin.

Glen NK1N operating 6 meters in the VHF contest from the cabin.

So, another fun Camp Run-a-MOC get-together is in the books.  The weather wasn’t great but at least it didn’t snow this year.

The next outing for the Boschveldt QRPers is Field Day.  I’m already looking forward to that.

72, Craig WB3GCK

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Drive-on Portable Antenna Support

[This is an updated description of the drive-on antenna support that I have been using for many years.  This version originally appeared in the July 2016 edition of QRP Quarterly in the “Idea Exchange” column.  You can still find the older article here.]

Here’s a simple, inexpensive drive-on mast support that I have been using for more than ten years now.  It’s been particularly handy for quick trips to the field, such as National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) activations.

Over the years, telescopic fiberglass poles have become popular as portable supports for lightweight antennas.  Two popular suppliers of these collapsible poles are Jackite (http://www.jackite.com/) and SOTABeams (http://www.sotabeams.co.uk/).  I typically use my 31-foot Jackite pole to support a vertical wire along the outside of the pole.  I have also used them to support lightweight dipoles and a variety of end-fed wire antennas.

One trip to your local hardware store will get you everything you need for this project.  To support a 31-foot Jackite pole, here’s what you’ll want to buy:

  • 1-1/4 inch floor flange
  • 18-inch length of 1-1/4 inch threaded steel pipe
  • (4) 1/4-20 x 1-1/2-inch flathead bolts
  • (4) 1/4-20 nuts
  • (4) 1/4-inch flat washers
  • (4) 1/4-inch lock washers
  • 18 to 24-inch length of 1×8 lumber (I used a piece of maple.  A piece of 1×6 lumber would also work)
Figure 1. Drill 4 countersunk holes for the floor flange at the end of the board.

Figure 1. Drill 4 countersunk holes for the floor flange at the end of the board.

Assembly is pretty straightforward.  Drill four holes to mount the flange to the board.  The flathead bolts go in from the bottom.  You need to countersink the bolts so they will flush with the bottom of the board.  Attach the flange with the flat washers, lock washers and nuts.  That’s about it.

Figure 2. Here is the floor flange mounted on the board.

Figure 2. Here is the floor flange mounted on the board.

To use the mount, I just set it on the ground and run one of my vehicle’s tires up on it.  Next, I screw the threaded pipe into the flange.  Once the pole is fully extended and the bottom cap removed, I just slide the pole over the pipe.  For my 31-foot Jackite pole, I use a little electrical tape on the pipe to give a snug fit.

Figure 3. Drive onto the mount and screw in the pipe.

Figure 3. Drive onto the mount and screw in the pipe.

Figure 4. Drive-on mast in use supporting a vertical wire.

Figure 4. Drive-on mast in use supporting a vertical wire.

You can also adapt this for other size poles.  For my 28-foot Jackite pole, for example, I use a 1-inch pipe.  For my 20-foot Black Widow pole (https://www.bnmpoles.com/), I use a 3/4-inch pipe.  You can buy reducers (adapters) in the plumbing department that will allow you to use the smaller diameter pipes with the 1-1/4 inch flange.  If you only use one particular pole, you can always buy a smaller flange and build your mount with that.

This design is more than sufficient for a lightweight, telescopic fiberglass mast. If you need to support something heavier, like a steel mast, you’ll need a more robust support than this.


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