ATTENTION: HEX-BEAM and Other Small Beam Owners
Most hams can’t install a tower due to cost or other impediments (and there can be many). So what’s the next best choice? You hex-beam owners with common telescopic masts know their mast is definitely not the second best choice nor third best, but it’s been the only reasonably priced and available choice though not necessarily a safe one. What you need is a Mast Support and a mast that can be safely raised to 40 feet or more and even done so by yourself. That’s where I come in to the picture.
Some years ago I designed what I call the WINCH-IT-UP Mast Support and the accompanying KE1Q DIY ANTENNA MAST. They are both a combination of simple and common sense ideas and can be made and raised by one person, if necessary. The WINCH-IT-UP can also be used with other compatible mast designs.
The WINCH-IT-UP MAST SUPPORT was designed especially for use with the KE1Q DIY ANTENNA MASTS that can be found on the www.ke1q.com website. KE1Q masts provide many advantages when compared with the common telescopic extension mast and at a competitive cost especially on heights over 30 actual feet.
Winch-It-Up description: The Winch-It-Up is a universal mast support made from a 12-16′ length of 4×4 Pressure Treated (PT) lumber with a finished above ground height of at least 10-1/2 feet. There are two pieces to it and there is a 1” opening just above the 6-1/2 foot lower section to allow the winch’s strap to pass through. You can raise/lower the mast by fastening the strap to the mast with a muffler type clamp.
The mast support includes a strap type winch to assist in the mast raising, to hold it in place, and to support its weight while adding the 5 foot sections of mast you will use. This support consists of locally purchased components except possibly the standoff brackets available from many online suppliers. The winch-it-up requires a pair of 4” standoff brackets-one mounted just above the 1” opening and the other at the top of the 4×4. They should be able to accommodate a 2-1/2″ mast and have a front strap for ease of removing when necessary.
Configurations: The mast support can be configured in several ways to cover most situations.
Option 1: The Wall Mounted/Attached. It is attached to a building’s wall. This is the most rigid choice and most popular. Currently, I am using one of these. See Figures 1-5.
Option 2: The Stand Alone/Attached or Guyed. It is either placed in the ground by itself (leaving at least 10-1/2 feet for the above ground portion) OR it can be attached to another 4×4 already in the ground and probably anchored in a pail of cement. This way the mast support can be moved in the future without difficulty. Currently, I am also using one of these. See Figures 6 and 7.
Option 3: The Stand Alone/Portable. It requires a base that can be easily made. Uses are usually of a temporary nature, ie, Field Day, camping. See Figures 8, 9, 10 and 11.
NOTE: If you install a Stand Alone version, you need the top of the support to either be attached to a secure object (ex. a wall) or be guyed. See Figures 6 and 11. You may avoid this if your support has a 4×4 encased in cement and the top of the mast support feels very rigid.
The following pics show the mast support in different positions, possible locations and how it is connected to the mast itself.
Option 1: WALL MOUNTED/ATTACHED (Figures 1 – 5)
Option 2: STAND ALONE/ATTACHED or GUYED (Figures 6 and 7)
Option 3: STAND ALONE/PORTABLE (Figures 8 – 11)
Companion Mast Info: Questions arise as to what type of mast would work with this support. In short, most tubing or pipe masts made with 5′ sections and less than 2-1/2” OD will work. Heavy pipe should not be used as it is very difficult to raise. In my case, I’ve used two different mast materials with Couplers and Reinforcers of my own design-both with excellent results. The Winch-It-Up is NOT designed to be used with common telescopic masts.
The antenna mast materials (see Figures 12 and13) used with this support so far have been either:
- 1.9″ OD Fence Rail with 0.090″ (prefered thickness) wall thickness available from fence suppliers/dealers/installers.
- 1-1/2″ EMT (1.740” OD x 0.065” wall x 10′ long) available from home supply/electrical stores.
They are cut into 5 foot sections and joined together with 8” long DOM steel Couplers. Then 5” long Reinforcers are placed mid-way on the 5 footer for extra strength and rigidity. One Guy Ring Retainer, about 1” wide, is needed to hold the top Guy Ring in place. Guy Rings required for these two mast sizes are of Max-Gain Systems, Inc design. GR-175 fits the EMT and GR-2 fits the 1.9” fence rail. KE1Q PRODUCTS LLC supplies these products. Guy rope is used with the guy rings-no abrasive/metallic guys. For expanded details, visit www.ke1q.com.
The cost of the EMT version is close to the cost of a regular telescopic and in some cases it is less expensive. This is especially true if you want to reach a true 35 foot height. And you can work by yourself, if necessary.
Neither mast material was designed for use as antenna masts, but using my design and with a good guy system, they are well supported. With little maintenance they can be expected to last for many years. Mine have often endured 40-50 mph winds without incident.
This Winch-It-Up mast support will support your mast with the rotator either at the base or just under the hex antenna.
NOTE: I have used it both ways and they each have an advantage.
The bottom mount rotator allows the mast to be about 10# lighter at the top for more stability. Those that have used common telescopics for this use realize stability is a major issue with them. Adding another 10# is a lot when it’s already wobbly.
The top mount is easier to install and you don’t need to buy a thrust bearing. Also, no mounting brackets for the thrust bearing nor the rotator are needed with the top mount.
My preference is the top mount, because, unlike the top sections of a common telescopic, both the EMT or the 1.9” Fence rail have a larger diameter and heavier material and the design of my www.ke1q.com diy masts provide extra rigidity. So the mast is more stable and rigid thus allowing for some extra weight at the top. Also, no thrust bearing or brackets make it less expensive and easier to build and much easier to raise or lower when necessary. I had an EMT mast at 50 feet with a K4KIO hex and the G-450A Yaesu top mounted for over 5 years with no issues (yes, properly guyed).
I have a complete website that goes into much more detail about the diy WINCH-IT-UP Mast Support and my accompanying KE1Q DIY ANTENNA MASTS. Please visit: www.ke1q.com.
SAFETY NOTICE-IMPORTANT-PLEASE READ: No antenna mast is complete without a good guy system. It’s the best insurance you can have to protect your mast, yourself, others and property. Typically a guy level is necessary for every 10 feet of unsupported mast. An online search can provide you with detailed installation information. DON’T SHORTCUT YOUR GUY SYSTEM!! For my rope guy system on the top level, I use Mastrant-P 5mm/0.197” rope rated at 1102 lbs. For lower levels I use STI Antenna Support Rope, 3/16”/0.187”, rated at 770 lbs. The 770# is very adequate for most antennas. I use the four guy system for masts 30′ and above and all those with significant antenna/rotator weight on top.
If you don’t feel you have a safe spot to locate the mast or you are not comfortable with the information provided here, you should go elsewhere. Also, there are EMT nay-sayers out there with opinions. Remember, the telescopic mast, per the manufacturers, is NOT approved for a hexbeam on it either, but we all seem to try it. However, with my design and with minimal maintenance, I believe the KE1Q Mast is an exceptional mast that will provide long and dependable service. It has for me.
If you read all the links on www.ke1q.com, you will see that I cover many, many possible concerns. When raising objects high in the air, there will always be concerns. And every install is different so you should expect some issues. Be Prepared – Be Careful – Be Safe – Take Your Time. It’s in your hands – you are responsible.