Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Buddistick Antenna Mount Idea for SOTA

Antenna Quest

    Like many Ham radio enthusiasts, I have been on a quest to find the best antenna to meet all my needs. This search is not unlike attempting to buy a unicorn for your pet bigfoot with the gold you found in the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. No one-size-fits-all antenna exists but the legend lives on. Therefore we must then make a decision; a sacrifice, between what we want and what we can live with (price, performance, size, bands, etc). My priorities in what I want in my antenna changed eight months ago when I was introduced to Summits On The Air (SOTA). Now everything is about being lightweight, compact and easy to setup and take down; along with being an efficient radiator.

An Idea

    Up to now, I have been content to home brew most of my antenna ideas but the pursuit of my mythical ideal antenna led me to recently take the leap and purchase a Buddistick to test out. For an antenna just over $200 USD (after shipping) it appears to be a good deal. Like many of the reviews I have read, the quality of the antenna parts from the Buddipole company are well crafted and rugged. However, I did have one regret from my purchase and that was choosing the mini-tripod instead of the adjustable clamp. The mini-tripod does hold the antenna upright, but if you breath too hard the antenna will tip over without guys. Fumbling with guys and twisted wire is one of my biggest annoyances whether in the backyard or on a summit. That gave me an idea to recycle a rarely-used camera tripod in my hallway closet. After a quick YouTube search, I found a few ideas to model my plan after.

The Build

    I quickly found my drill, Dremel tool, spare quarter-twenty nuts and bolds and went to work. As you can see from the pictures of my creation below, although I was only able to put three bolts in it is still quite sturdy. I use the center hook of the tripod to tie my backpack to it and with a little weight from my existing gear or an on-summit rock provides plenty of support in a steady wind.

Results Matter

    On 28 March, 2014, I took my new creation up Koko Crater (KH6/OH-021) for an activation. I brought my antenna analyzer but decided to use the recommended tune-by-ear method with my radio hooked up. I had pre-tested my antenna in my yard the day before to mark the accompanying ground radial for 20, 17, & 15 meters. The setup was quick and easy on the summit and I was able to get a SWR under 1.5:1 on the two bands I tried that day. Using just 25 Watts of power I was able to successfully activate the summit with contacts up and down the west coast of the U.S., Arizona, out to Kansas, and up to Alberta, Canada. While monitoring the bands during a contest weekend, I also heard stations in Europe quite clearly from the summit. The antenna works as advertised and I am looking forward to my next activation with my Buddistick.

73 and safe hiking!


 Side view of my somewhat sloppy Dremel modification to my tri-pod mount.

Successful deployment atop KH6/OH-021