Like many of you, I browse the antenna forums, both here and around the web. Many new hams post the same question over and over again. It usually goes something like this:
"I live in restricted housing, and want to know which portable antenna I should buy. Got any suggestions?"
This question is usually asked along with inquiries about a few ready-made "compromise" antenna ideas that are convenient, expensive, and likely do not radiate as well as full-sized homebrew wire solutions a ham can easily build on their own.
I always ask: Why spend the money to compromise more than you have to?
With a tall fiberglass mast, such as the Spiderbeam HD12m (40 foot) model, hams of all experience levels can have a simple platform on which to build an almost no-compromise antenna that soars to great heights and "gets out" better than others. In fact, they can usually buy the mast, some wire, and a 1:1 current balun cheaper than purchasing one of the ready-made solutions we have all heard of. A tall portable mast allows you to raise your antenna in a small space. In addition, building the antenna brings the satisfaction of creating something yourself that really works!
Height is might, and the Spiderbeam HD12m will get you a full 40 feet of it! Most pre-made portable antennas don't reach half of that height.
In this video, I show how to add a quick-and-dirty monoband 17m vertical dipole to a Spiderbeam HD12m mast, and make a few contacts. This is but one example of a monobander you can build on the Spiderbeam mast. Keep in mind that there are also plans available for building multi-band resonant antennas on such a pole, covering 15m, 20m, and 40m together (with no tuning necessary), as well as 6m and the WARC bands with a tuner. In fact, the HD12m pole is large enough for anything from a 20m monoband vertical dipole, to a full no-compromise 40m quarter wave vertical with raised radials! Here's another idea: build your own double extended zepp. Spiderbeam even sells kits for vertical loop antennas. Add some ladder line, and you've got another multi-band antenna to try.
Raising and lowering a fiberglass mast is easy, and two or three long velcro strips are enough to strap the pole to a post, fence, or a medium tree trunk. With this mast, you can build a no-compromise antenna that you don't have to pull down to tune coils, or turn a capacitor knob to tune. Spend less time tuning, and more time operating!
In this video, I don't go into much detail building the simple vertical dipole. My goal was to simply show the mast, and give new hams ideas of another antenna option, and show that it really works.