Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by K6FAK, Jul 20, 2019.
I noticed the 30' mast at Ham-Com was sold... did you buy the display unit?
The earlier posts did emphasise speed, portability, ease. Fully guying a mast doesn't really fall into those categories.
I repeat: send one across and we'll see how it copes with several 65mph and a few 80mph storms, even with guys. It will be an entirely honest, objective assessment, don't worry.
Oh, and the video makes the specific claim that the mast is "all Mil(itary) spec level". Which term should I believe - 'mil-spec' or 'mil-spec level'? They are not the same thing. Can I see the evidence for being 'mil-spec', because the evidence doesn't seem to be volunteered, but the mil specs are all very militarily specified in writing.
No I got mine long before that. Chris allows me to pre-test lots of his stuff.
You guys that have had the 30' mast for a while... how do you like it now? Still holding up well?
I like it a lot and it's holding up quite well. Had the Mastwerks and Buddipole out yesterday with a new ham. They made their first HF contact on it. From SoCal we made solid contacts yesterday with Trinidad and Tobago, Japan, North Carolina, Colorado, Oregon, Texas, Illinois and others.
Being able to get a near full size 20m dipole (BP with long whips) up a full half wavelength makes a huge difference; the band just lights up. The ability to rotate the antenna while aloft with the simple hand crank is brilliant. For one of the LA fires this past fall, our LAX ARES team was activated. Since I"m based in Ventura, I attached an arrow antenna 2m yagi to the top of Maswerks, and was able easily operate as net control for the duration of the activation while communicating with our team through a repeater over 80 miles away from my home with only 10w. The ability to have a portable mast system that can be rotated when fully set, and have the height to get the antenna above the local houses is pretty awesome.
The guying system works flawlessly. Once the guys are set, you can raise and lower the antenna to make adjustments and don't have to touch the guy lines. Having a bubble level in the top of the tripod head is wildly helpful. Getting the system level from the start really is the key to success. Also, being able to put the Buddipole on the mast, make adjustments, rotate the antenna so that it is pointing into the wind for raise and lower, then rotating it into the operating position after the guys have stabilized the mast is essential. If there is any breeze at all and the antenna is not pointed into the wind, then as you're raising any mast, the side loading wind puts a little bend in the mast making it harder to raise. Simply rotating the dipole on the ground to minimize this side loading makes raising and lowering the whole Mastwerks system really easy.
The mast can be removed from the tripod if need be. I've run some test strapping just the mast to a corner of my deck where I didn't have room for the tripod and then using the guy system to attach lines to other points on the deck. This makes the mast section work like pretty much every other pushup mast on the market. The ability to rotate the mast with the hand crank is lost in this configuration but it works just fine otherwise.
Aside from the Buddipole and Arrow Antenna, I've also used the Mastwerks to hoist a G5RV, 2m/440 Slim Jim, OCFD, wire dipoles, small weather meter, Signal Flags, etc.
To transport the Mastwerks and my whole antenna system, I picked up a Sports Tube used for shipping 2 pair of snow skis. The Mastwerks, Buddipole, Coax, and Arrow Antenna all fit in the Sports Tube, the handle and wheels makes it easy to transport and store.
I've also used my Mastwerks and Buddipole system as a teaching platform for new ham classes. It turns out to be an almost ideal platform for teaching about antennas.
My Mastwerks unit was one of the early production units and my understanding is that they've made a few improvements since my unit shipped. Things like, better custom molded rubber feet, extending the high wind marking lines on the top 2 mast segments all the way around the circumference of the mast for better visibility, and a few other minor tweaks. Strength and construction of the Mastwerks has seemed really solid, no complaints.
The biggest issue I've had with the unit is during the final steps of a take down of the tripod; getting the right order of which locking latches on the tripod to unlock and re-lock in the correct order to make folding the tripod up a smooth operation. This mostly becomes an issue if I haven't used the mast in a few weeks and forget the magic sequence of going from the low wide stance back to fully folded up for transport steps. The Mastwerks tripod is pretty similar to production video tripod legs though that have extra stability supports, and I tend to run into the same issues with those as well so I chalk this one up to user error.
As for additional improvements I'd like to see: having a small built in compass in the top of the tripod (similar to the bubble level) would be really nice for pointing the antenna. Color coding the locking levers to match the guying plates would help new operators set the mast system up quicker, having replaceable tripod feet with spikes for better grip on the soil and possibly attachment points for staking down the legs of the tripod, and having some extra quick release caps that are threaded with 5/8 and 1/4 20 threads would be nice.
The big question everyone tends to ask me though, is it worth the price? For me, it fits my needs quite well and my style of operating, so for me yes it is totally worth the price. I've found it to be a very stable and flexible antenna support system that works extremely well for EmComm, Backyard operating, and field operations where transporting the system is not an issue. I have a small park about a block away from my home so I can put my radio and battery in a backpack and pull the sports tube with the antenna system in it and walk to the park, setup in about 20-30 minutes and operate for a few hours then walk home. For EmComm deployments I can grab my GoBag and the sports tube, put them in either my truck or mini cooper and easily transport the system to an event or deployment. The way you operate and your needs may differ from mine, but it works for me really well.
Wow! What an incredible and well-thought-out response to my question! Thank you W6AH!
You can't beat the height when deployed and I don't mind the room it takes up in my small car when transporting it. Overall build has been great and performs well. Just be prepared to tell people about it once you set it up and the public walks by. It seems to be some kind of magnet...