Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Amateur Radio Gear Reviews

Pros and Cons of military surplus 48" fiberglass mast sections

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Smurf Hunter:
Recently through a local ARES contact, I got a complete kit of 16 48" poles plus extras for only $10.00.

My hope was to use this as an emerency/field portable mast for wire antennas and possible VHF/UHF Jpoles.
For this thread, I'm only talking about fiberglass.  There are also aluminum poles, but that's a different beast.

First off, the absolute highest I could erect this using a very tall and sturdy tripod was 6 sections are about 24 feet total.
Allegedly, with a special collar and guy wires, you can get 7 sections up (28 feet and change), but my goal was a one-man setup, and by my estimate I'd need two friends to reliably get the advertised 30 feet stable.

For reference here's an online retailer that sells what I tested.  I've no affiliation or knowledge of that seller, just the product description conveniently matched what I have.

For visual reference here's what I was able to setup, by myself, using a bicycle repair stand as the base.

Here's the big obvious problem: even with lots of hardware and friends to help if you manage to get 7 mast sections to safely remain vertical, 30 feet is only so useful for HF.  I had good success on 20 meters using the W3EDP zeppelin.  But if you have ambitions for bands lower than 7mhz (40 meters), most of your RF will be hitting the dirt and not move through the air as intended.

Also, 3rd parties make these tripod joints with the idea being the mast sections can make up both the legs and the verticals.  While the milsurp fiberglass and aluminum as the same diameter, the fiberglass has an additional "ring" making it impossible to feed through the center of the tripod joint.

In summary, if you come across a deal I found ($10 for everything) it's worth playing around, but the fiberglass poles aren't rigid enough for VERY tall masts up to 50 feet and taller.

Have some Karmic corn for your good find  :popcorn:

That is a screaming deal!   These are really good for rv'ing.  They are short enough to easily stow. Ussually you mount them to the rv (fender and near roof line).  Of course, in an RV park you only need to go 20 feet to clear structures.

In a field they can go up to 40 feet with three sets of guylines.  And this can be set up by one person with a tilt base instead of the tripod.  I cant find a picture of a tilt base but it is a plate with a spike on the bottom (to drive in ground) and on top it has a tube section with a screw through it so it can only rotate in one dimension.  The first pole fits over this tube.  Then the full mast of poles is laid out on the ground with two of three guylines in top ring secured.  The third guyline will be in the direction of the base tilt.  So this guyline is used to pull the mast up vertically.  Then that guyline is secured, the other ones of that ring tightened.  Then the screw is tightened on base so it no longer rotates.  Then rest of guylines are deployed. 

Found an image  on an ebay listing:

Smurf Hunter:

--- Quote from: iam4liberty on July 17, 2017, 06:11:54 PM ---Found an image  on an ebay listing:

--- End quote ---

That would certainly aid in deployment, and with the guy wires would get a bit more height. 

If you all lived closer, I'd buy the dozens of extra sets and sell them off at cost.


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