2 Meter and 70 CM Antenna Tripod Project

K9DWB

Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2020
Messages
202
Location
Greencastle, PA, USA
I admit I've got the radio bug again after getting my tech and my new Yaesu FT3D. I happen to be a few miles too far from repeaters in the N, S, E, SSW or pretty much any other direction one can come up with. The problem is I can hear but I can't transmit due to the limitations of 5W of power and the antenna on the HT, even though I have decent antenna in the Diamond SRH77CA or the Signal Stick dual band. I knew this was going to be a limitation at the current location, but it is portable. I see it as a challenge instead of "I bought the wrong radio".

Now, here's some possible parts for an external antenna. By that not only do I mean external as in not on the radio but the antenna would be sitting outside, probably in the backyard. I am trying to go portable yet capable. I will soon be renting an apartment, so I am already planning on permanent mounts being nixed. If that changes, OK great, then I can plan accordingly.

Feel free to pick the choices apart or even the whole project. I've looked over parts on Ham Radio Outlet, The Antenna Farm, DX Engineering, and manufacturer's sites for ABR Industries for the coax, and then MFJ, Comet, and Diamond.

I am considering getting an MFJ tripod that has a fiberglass telescopic mast that goes to 18'. The tripod is an MFJ-1919EX at $159.95 to go with the MFJ-1526 2M/70CM dual band vertical for $149.95. And for coax, I was leaning towards ABR Industries coax that HRO has that's 50' of 400 UltraFlex with PL259 ends and a short jumper coax of lighter RG316 with a SMA-M on one end.

OK, so what is correct, incorrect, etc.? What did I miss? What should be changed if anything?

MFJ-1526.jpgMFJ-1919EX tripod.jpg
 

prcguy

Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2006
Messages
9,887
Location
So Cal - Richardson, TX - Tewksbury, MA
The MFJ 1919EX tripod is very light duty with the top section being only 3/4" diameter. It will not hold up a 17ft tall antenna partially extended and I doubt it would even hold it up collapsed. The MFJ 1919EX is for holding up very small and lightweight VHF/UHF antennas or maybe the center of a lightweight dipole. I have the MFJ 50ft (!) monster fiberglass telescoping mast and it has trouble holding up a vertical dangling wire when all the way up. I'm not kidding, unless you wrap the wire around it, in a breeze the wire will blow away from the mast then start to bend the mast over some. The max I can use that mast is about 30ft up holding the center of a dipole and even then I have to be careful.

You might check into a heavy duty PA speaker stand, they are about 1 1/4" diameter at the top and some go up past 6ft. You will also need to sand bag the legs on any small tripod, even a heavy duty speaker stand type. It will seem strong but the first breeze will knock it right over with 17ft of antenna sticking up.

I admit I've got the radio bug again after getting my tech and my new Yaesu FT3D. I happen to be a few miles too far from repeaters in the N, S, E, SSW or pretty much any other direction one can come up with. The problem is I can hear but I can't transmit due to the limitations of 5W of power and the antenna on the HT, even though I have decent antenna in the Diamond SRH77CA or the Signal Stick dual band. I knew this was going to be a limitation at the current location, but it is portable. I see it as a challenge instead of "I bought the wrong radio".

Now, here's some possible parts for an external antenna. By that not only do I mean external as in not on the radio but the antenna would be sitting outside, probably in the backyard. I am trying to go portable yet capable. I will soon be renting an apartment, so I am already planning on permanent mounts being nixed. If that changes, OK great, then I can plan accordingly.

Feel free to pick the choices apart or even the whole project. I've looked over parts on Ham Radio Outlet, The Antenna Farm, DX Engineering, and manufacturer's sites for ABR Industries for the coax, and then MFJ, Comet, and Diamond.

I am considering getting an MFJ tripod that has a fiberglass telescopic mast that goes to 18'. The tripod is an MFJ-1919EX at $159.95 to go with the MFJ-1526 2M/70CM dual band vertical for $149.95. And for coax, I was leaning towards ABR Industries coax that HRO has that's 50' of 400 UltraFlex with PL259 ends and a short jumper coax of lighter RG316 with a SMA-M on one end.

OK, so what is correct, incorrect, etc.? What did I miss? What should be changed if anything?

View attachment 90062View attachment 90063
 

vagrant

ker-muhj-uhn
Joined
Nov 19, 2005
Messages
1,584
Location
California
Height is might, but that telescoping mast is terribly thin at the top. You would need to probably use a hose clamp or tape in order to get the antenna to somewhat mount near the top. Also, that antenna is quite long so you would need to definitely use guy lines (rope or wire) on the mast, which means more space. Still, that mast would not hold that antenna.

I use a speaker stand ($20 Amazon) with a sandbag at the bottom along with a 16' push up painters mast ($32 hardware store) and a Diamond X50A antenna ($100). I modified the clamps on the X50A with some simple metal strips with holes and wing nuts for an easy setup/takedown. If it is windy you can collapse the painters mast down. You're fine on the coax...and I see prcguy just commented with similar info.

The Diamond X50A antenna itself will help you quite a bit. Also, don't purchase 100' of coax, if you only need 25'. You can always add more if things change.
 
Last edited:

K9DWB

Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2020
Messages
202
Location
Greencastle, PA, USA
OK, that makes sense. I'll research the various tripods to swap in instead of that one. It's too pricey given that it's not as strong as I will need to do what I plan.

Thanks for the feedback.
 

prcguy

Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2006
Messages
9,887
Location
So Cal - Richardson, TX - Tewksbury, MA
Here are a couple of speaker stands that go up to 9ft and I'm sure there are others maybe taller.




@vagrant copy the info. Yes it sounds like swapping out that wimpy tripod and mast combo sounds like my best bet for success.
 

mmckenna

I ♥ Ø
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
13,535
Location
SNCZCA01DS0
Thanks @prcguy these look much stronger than the MFJ.
As a new ham, the MFJ stuff may look attractive. Some of it is decent, some of it is not. You may hear some hams refer to MFJ and "Mighty Fine Junk".
In other words, and as pointed out, you can do better.

The limitation with your hand held radio isn't the power level. 5 watts should do just fine. You do need to get the antenna outside and up as high as you safely can, preferably above your roof line. Down at ground level, as well as inside your home, there's just too much RF opaque materials to get in the way. If you took your hand held up on the roof, even with the stock antenna, you'd probably be able to nail a few local repeaters.

The various tripods/push up poles, etc. are a good temporary option. Keep in mind that a lightweight antenna will help. Less metal up in the wind to pull on your mast.
You might want to consider a basic dual band mobile antenna with a base station ground radial kit. They are light weight, low wind load, and might be all you need. Bonus is you'll have a mobile dual band antenna, too.
Might I recommend:
or

and one of these base station adapter mounts:

While not as good as a 'real' base station antenna, it is a good lightweight/low windage option that will solve your issue.
 

alcahuete

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jul 24, 2015
Messages
1,109
Location
Antelope Acres, California
When I was in my last HOA restricted house, I had a Diamond X-510 (similar to the MFJ you're looking at) on 10' worth of mast, with about 1.5' buried in the ground, and all of it stuck in the middle of thick trees and well below my 2 story house and all the other houses around. Even at 8' I could work every repeater there was to work, in addition to regularly working 65+ mile simplex contacts. Simplex was at 50w, but I rarely, if ever, used more than 5w into repeaters.

Height is absolutely king when it comes to VHF/UHF, but something is better than nothing. Leaning a 17' antenna up against your house at ground level is going to perform better than any HT antenna there is, pretty much guaranteed.

Rohn makes some very good "portable" masts. I assure you they aren't anywhere near as portable as the MFJ, but they are really well-built, cheaper than the MFJ junk, and you can actually buy one right at your Home Depot. Mine stocks them, and if not in, you can have one shipped to the store. A 36 footer is like $130. Just run some guy wires (any normal rope is fine) and stake it in with some tent stakes and you're good to go.
 

K9DWB

Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2020
Messages
202
Location
Greencastle, PA, USA
This is all good info. Glad I checked before buying as it sounds like there'd be a boatload of buyers remorse. Lots of good info, thanks to all. A shame there's not a dual band base antenna that looks like an oak. As is, I don't yet have an idea what restrictions will be placed on me with these prospective landlords. I do know that where I live now I need external, secure without being permanently attached, and higher than the house roof as I see it.
 

vagrant

ker-muhj-uhn
Joined
Nov 19, 2005
Messages
1,584
Location
California
I forgot to ask, are you unable to reach those repeaters when indoors, or outdoors as well just using the Diamond SRH77CA? If you can reach them outdoors with the SRH77CA, then that Diamond X50A I mentioned should do fine outdoors without much height. I painted mine to blend in with the sky, but whatever color suits your needs. I believe I saw a video where a guy put a painted Diamond X50 or X30, in a large planter (not filled with dirt) and then wrapped it with some fake vine leaves. It was disguised rather well.
 

K9DWB

Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2020
Messages
202
Location
Greencastle, PA, USA
That would be negative on reaching the closest repeaters. I've got a mix of 2 M and 70 CM nearby, with 11 miles being the closest. But a no-go with the Diamond inside or out on full power. Yeah I checked that transmit setting. Hearing 2-3 different repeaters that have activity is not an issue it seems. FWIW I have 8 repeaters within 16 miles. And since I'm disabled, I don't get to spend a lot of time outside, but I was out long enough to know I wasn't getting to these repeaters.

I'm not sure if traffic is an indicator, but 70 CM is pretty dead on the ones near me. I've got incoming on 2 meter, 1 fairly consistent repeater and then intermittent on 2 others. The rest are either dead/no listeners or something. I do have the right offset, tone squelch, etc. according to RepeaterBook info so it's not a bonehead miscue on my part. I'm just thinking I'm in a bad spot to attempt it with just the HT mounted antenna.
 

K9DWB

Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2020
Messages
202
Location
Greencastle, PA, USA
@FKimble thanks for the feedback. I'll have to put that one on the wish list. I'm scratching MFJ off as the antenna of choice as well.

BTW does any use a J Pole or Slim Jim in either roll up/ladder wire or copper tubing? Would either be a good alternative in my situation?
 

popnokick

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Mar 21, 2004
Messages
2,074
Location
Northeast PA
@FKimble
BTW does any use a J Pole or Slim Jim in either roll up/ladder wire or copper tubing? Would either be a good alternative in my situation?
Yes! Our ham club (and myself) have many of these super lightweight, low cost antennas. They work VERY well on both 2M and 70cm. All you do is drop it into a capped PVC tube (be sure to follow the specs he gives with the instructions for the PVC... just any old PVC won't do. But you can buy it anywhere.) Not the gain you'll get from a (much more expensive and heavy) Diamond X50, but a simple and solid performer. You want the one labeled "DBJ-1" for $34. If you are within 11 miles of at least one repeater... and are hearing it on an HT with a rubber duck... this type of antenna will work for you.
Ed's Antennas
 

bharvey2

Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,390
J Poles can work but they can be problematic sometimes, interacting with nearby materials and even the feedline itself. It really can't do anything a 1/4 wave ground plane antenna can't. If you have the choice, use a 1/4 wave ground plane. Also, while the speaker tripod mentioned above are great all in one solutions, don't rule out typical roof mount tripods like those used for small satellite dishes. They can be used four ground based antennas too and are pretty cheap but quite strong.
 

popnokick

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Mar 21, 2004
Messages
2,074
Location
Northeast PA
J Poles can work but they can be problematic sometimes, interacting with nearby materials and even the feedline itself. It really can't do anything a 1/4 wave ground plane antenna can't.
... except for two things often overlooked / misunderstood when comparing 1/4 wave ground plane antennas with J-poles:
1) J-poles offer some RF gain on 2M and 70cm vs a ground plane. Specifically, the DBJ-1 has 2.1 dBi gain on both bands. Hey, it's not a Diamond X50, but is more than the zero gain of a ground plane.
2) J-poles don't require an RF counterpoise, and that means no neighbor's eye-catching, bug-catching, wind-catching, bird-sitting radials on your antenna.
 

bharvey2

Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,390
... except for two things often overlooked / misunderstood when comparing 1/4 wave ground plane antennas with J-poles:
1) J-poles offer some RF gain on 2M and 70cm vs a ground plane. Specifically, the DBJ-1 has 2.1 dBi gain on both bands. Hey, it's not a Diamond X50, but is more than the zero gain of a ground plane.
2) J-poles don't require an RF counterpoise, and that means no neighbor's eye-catching, bug-catching, wind-catching, bird-sitting radials on your antenna.
The OP mentioned he'd be moving to an apartment soon so I assumed, maybe incorrectly so, that he'd be up against less than idea mounting conditions. The JPole can be a "double edged sword" in that regard so the ground plane offers a bit more forgiveness. You are correct in that the J-Pole has no visible ground plane elements and is less likely to stand out visually. I have one up for that very reason.
 
Top