Taking a step back in regards to communications from HF back to Line of Sight, it’s important to recognize the building of a simple, reliable, local communications infrastructure. The cornerstone of doing this is building a rugged and tall antenna system being simple enough to quickly assemble and disassemble. The best kit I know of off the shelf is the military surplus mast system.
Built of rugged aluminum, it’s light enough to not be cumbersome when packed for travel, fits easily in the back of an SUV, and is inexpensive enough to be adaptable without causing heartburn over drilling new holes. For a Tactical Command Post or signal center, it’s a must-have.
Where Line of Sight Fits in the Puzzle
Line of Sight(LOS) communications are the low/local tier on the Signal Operating Index. During operations, these are the signals which immediately relay information or orders on the local level. Communicators in a given area should be practicing regularly now to get the flow of information and the sound of each other’s voices down pat. Getting to know each other over the air becomes an asset later on under duress; for example, Chechen insurgent communicators generally knew the sound of each other’s voices over the radio, leading them to know when that frequency or operator was possibly being monitored or compromised. Local, Local Local…get it?
Military forces around the world utilize LOS communications to relay information to subordinate commands at the local level. This being said, rudimentary radio knowledge tells us that the higher the antenna used for LOS, the more reliable that Line of Sight now becomes.
Enter the Military Mast
Your imagination is the limit for getting an antenna for VHF or UHF in the air; but the simpler, the better. Signal Corps vets will remember putting up the US’ version of the mast system, a simple series of press fit aluminum tubes with the antenna on top and guy lines for stability.
Being both rugged and very simple to assemble, it’s one of the better and lesser expensive mast systems on the market to take advantage of. It’s lightweight, and can be adapted to mount to just about anything, including trailer hitches on vehicles.
Once the mast is assembled and ready to erect, attaching the antenna is pretty simple, and can accommodate more than one type of antenna for dual purposes. Just keep in mind not to transmit with one set while listening on a near-frequency with a scanner- you run the risk of desensitizing the receiver. In this example, both a 2m Arrow Yagi and a Scanner discone sits atop the mast, ready for both a signals collection and relay capability. Connect and secure all feedlines, drive in your stake to ground the antenna system, and a very simple base antenna is ready to go. Now that we’re in the air, we’re ready to be on the air.
These mast systems can be found at most hamfests and on ebay for relatively little money, and while you could build one yourself out of conduit pipe or PVC, you’d be hard pressed to build one as rugged for as cheap.
All Credit goes to Henry Bowman for the pics. Good work Brother.