Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lighter, Easier to Pack, Telescoping Pole

I've been busy with day job, rock band and some of my other hobbies, but I've been meaning to write about this subject for a while. As I have been analyzing my approach to portable QRP SOTA operations I have been tweaking and lightening my load. One of the major advances is the telescoping pole that I use. As most of you know, Locktite has a very nice set of poles, up to 33 feet as does SOTA Beams. However, the issue is that when collapsed they are still close to 4 feet in length and 2 -3 lbs in weight. This means the pole is fine to carry in your car, but it is awkward to carry up a 14,000 mountain. So what to do?

I found, through KT5X, a supplier of Japanese made carbon fiber, telescoping fishing poles. It telescopes to 21 feet, weighs 7 oz. and collapses down to 25 inches. Brilliant. Now, these are a little pricey, from $75 -$120, but if you are carrying it for a few miles, the price amortizes nicely:-).

Carbon Fiber Telescoping Poles

There are a couple of caveats with these poles. There is no tip guide and the ends are a little flimsy. However if you wrap the top three sections with rod guide thread and coat it to strengthen the tip, it should suffice. You will also need to add very small rod guides, I used 3 mm guides, or buttons, yes buttons, to route the antenna wire down the pole. The buttons, two hole buttons, will need to be of varying sizes so that each will go further down the pole. The second hole of the button is what you thread the antenna wire through. If you use rod guides they should be mounted at the top of the last 3 or 4 sections so that the pole will still collapse. Once you start pondering this, while looking at a pole, it will make more sense. More on this in a later post.

 I've found the best way to deploy an EFHW, where there are trees is to use the pole to place the end of the antenna, wrapped around a winder, over the highest branch you can reach with the pole. Let the winder fall to the ground and tie it off. So now the end of your antenna is 20+ feet high over the branch that you selected. Then thread the other end of the antenna wire down your pole and extend the antenna until the end of the antenna is a couple of feet off the ground, threaded down the pole. Use a velcro wrap to secure it, attach your matching device and you're good to go. I often prop my pole on the limbs of another tree, so there is no need to guy the pole.

So to sum up, this lightens the load considerably and the deployment approach eliminates the need to throw a line or use a sling shot to try to get it over the right branch.

I will post some pictures of my pole in a later post. The poles are available at
in a variety of lengths and wall thicknesses.

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