The year is 2012, a good friend and part time Elmer(Aaron Rynearson) suggested we make a poor mans vertical antenna. The basics were to use a tape measure as the vertical inside a piece of PVC, with some sort of radial system. All well and good.

Except I could not get the idea out of my mind. In the winter I started to put it together using PVC pipe. The first one has not been built so this is a beta stage. As a test, I put the first few lengths of PVC pipe together, and hoisted them into place. They shattered from the cold and the bending trying to put it up. Moral of the story have to have cold weather resistance, so back to the drawing board.

Broken PVC pipe

Fast forward to 2013 and the Ham Radio Idaho State Convention. While perusing the vendors in the parking lot on Saturday, I happened upon a gentleman selling surplus army tent poles as portable masts for antennas. These poles, in aluminum or fiberglass, are used to hold up the big camouflaged nets the army uses to hide things. They came in Rubberized bags as sets of 12 with a base. I got a little excited.

I did the research. They are called Camo Netting Poles. They are approximately 48 inches long and interlock with each other. Each section discounting the connector is 42 inches per section. They were only designed to be used 4 hi by the Army. With the appropriate bracing heights of close to 40 feet are possible. I used 6 sections vertical for the initial antenna testing.

17 inch section of PVC showing the tape measure, Tape extended and hole where the clamp will go.
A better view with the clamp in place.

Since the goal was to build an adjustable vertical, it seemed that a tape measure would be the perfect place to start. It is flexible, comes in its own case, and can be extended to great lengths with proper support. What you see above is my answer to encase the tape and provide a means to clamp it securely while providing electrical connectivity.

Electrical connection to the tape.

We have a connection to the tape, sanded all 30 feet of the back of the tape to get good conductivity and tested everything. It looks like it will work. The next challenge, structure.

We know 2 things by now, PVC will not work for the long haul, and Army Surplus Camo Netting Poles are and excellent alternative. After further experimentation, it is almost impossible for a single individual to set this antenna up, and it is not very stable. The issue is how do we make a self standing mount to stabilize the mast?

Remember one of the goals was to make this an everyman kind of project. Had to be simple and as cheap as possible. Taking inventory I had a bunch of 2inch PVC pipe, a couple of hose clamps, and some old DirecTV dishes. Knowing a tripod / pyramid is the strongest shape one can devise, I used what was available to build my antenna base.

The satellites dishes have a tube bent at a 135 degree angle. (or close to it) Taking those off the dishes on hand, I discovered the camo poles would fit snugly in the end. Eureka! Now we had 4 foot lengths ending in a 45 degree from vertical. How to get them to hold something up. What if we put the top of the legs in a tube? Hmm that might work.

the base build

The reason for the short and long in the pattern is the legs (the piece with the angle part from the dish) goes in the short tube so it will only spin so far before the adjacent tube stops it. Otherwise the system collapses on it self, rendering it useless. (Trial by fire) The center tube makes a perfect guide for feeding the Camo tubes vertically.

Tapes Tube Etc.

This is the bottom of the ground plate. The plate is 2 pieces bolted together. The tabs next to the bolts are from 12 foot tape measures. Yep I used 8, 99cent tape measures for grounds. The bolt is the connection for the ground tapes and sinks a couple of inches into the ground for stability and improved grounding. The picture also shows the PVC base with one of the legs in its spot and how they worked.