Ugly Heavy Duty Portable Tunable HF Antenna Mount

Being a relative newbie to antenna mount creation I fully realize there are a lot of things that this particular cobbled together portable HF antenna and mounting system is not. My objective was NOT to create a well engineered mounting system that I could manufacture and sell. Why? I am a humble bean-counter that was bored enough to study enough to pass my ham radio licenses. Rather, I had some spare parts from prior radio projects, an old tire replaced on a boat trailer and an idea that combined an ARES / RACES cached set of mounts and antennas PLUS a shelving project plan I saw in Handyman magazine that used commercial pipes and flanges for the supports. I priced that out for my ham shack shelving and found I could use other materials for far less cost. If you watch Dave Ramsey on YouTube or such – you will see a really nice set of shelves. Very helpful to envision what is possible, thank you very much! When I thought about this project – these various components just all came together to form this system.

Before I lose you – here are it’s strengths – and then the nitti gritty details of how to build it and how it operates:

* Portable. This system breaks down and unscrews to components that can fit in a car.

* Sturdy. I suspect, but am not sure, that this will survive un-guyed to somewhere around 90 mph. I have tested this system during the NW Lower MI winter of 2017. It endured high winds of around 50 mph, an ice storm, snows, rains, accumulating snows, melting snows, direct sunlight, very cold temps, etc.. Why use a heavy tire when some elegantly designed aluminum tripods are available that are much lighter to transport long distances? Because my objective was to have this mount survive an entire winter. The tire sits nicely atop snow. A tripod may not. The tire is also heavy – that provides more resistance to tipping. I had to move this a number of times during the winter for snowplowing purposes, etc.. The tire concept served my purposes well. I know for use on an apartment deck or backpacking long distances an ultra-lightweight tripod would probably be better. If you want to have something you can assemble and see it “still standing” at the end of the deployment – weather that’s a week or a year – then this rugged mount fits the bill!

* Quickly Deployable. Once constructed (welded, etc.) this can be taken from car to field- ready deployment in… minutes. My guess is 10 or so although I did not put a stopwatch to it.

* Reasonable Cost. We replaced some tires on our boat and had some extras in the garage. I would not use them for long trips with the trailer, but for this purpose they were just fine.

* Tuneable – With or Without A Tuner! The Wolf River Coil has a tunable element – a plastic sleeve if you will. This sleeve anchors a piece of strong spring steel that is “bent” into a V notch. That sleeve can be loosened with a plastic bolt and the sleeve can be slid – with some force – up and down along the coil. It takes, for me, a pretty good amount of force to move it. Their website gives approximate number of “clicks” needed to tune the coil, to a given band. With the 102” whip I was able to work 160 – 20 meters. Tuning will be discussed below. Other bands are possible with shorter whips.

* Changeable. The top flange was used so that different mounts for different antennas could be quickly deployed. Unscrew the current one and screw a new one on, reattach the radials (future improvement?) and off you go!

* Enhanceable This project could be taken in several new directions, depending on your technical prowess with automotive mechanics, etc.. For example – if I knew how and had the time and funds for it – it would be really cool to have a matched set of these. A phased array or ground mounted beam comes to mind. Or – Have a light weight axle connecting the two of them. Have a little platform that would sit on the axle and would have the rest of the components fastened to it – with bungee cords, ropes, straps, etc.. Have a light weight post and handle attached to the axle. This could be driven to a woodsy location, assembled as a cart, then pulled by hand for a good distance over rough terrain for remote deployment. Don’t forget the battery, of course! Continue reading

APRS Location Tracking On The Cheap!

  Probably about 6 – 7 years ago or so I was informed by the “EC” (Emergency Coordinator) for Outagamie County WI ARES / RACES that the National Weather Service was interested in the idea of using ham radio based trackers for severe storm spotting purposes.  Stan explained what it … Continue reading

Working The U.P. Net (Upper Peninsula of Michigan)

In church we are counseled that God sometimes works in mysterious ways.  I’ve heard this termed as using tough times to harden us for good use later, a silver lining, etc..  Discovering and working the U.P. Net on 75 meters was one such instance of a wonderful thing happening in … Continue reading

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