Milsurp Mast System

oe-254.pngTaking 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

DSCF6961Your 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. DSCF6956

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. DSCF6962Connect 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.

14 thoughts on “Milsurp Mast System

  1. Yo, homie.

    A reader of yours, had these on a trailer hitch.

    I’m wanting to do a similar project. I’ve got everything I think I need, just curious what he was using to secure the masts to the hitch.

    1. Henry Bowman

      Mike Bishop et al:

      Here is a post of mine, with more pics on various deployments i’ve done, and the home made PVC antenna mount….Basically, a mast piece fits inside the hitch tube, then pushed into vertical and locked into place…

      I have had this in hi wind conditions, no issues, although i would guy it out….

      This is an awesome system, imho, as it allows for truly mobile, self sufficient, various height deployments in minutes..Total height is approx 25′, more than enough for field ops…Easy to deploy, set up and take down by one person, as i did one night in Brevard, NC, just using a low watt led headlamp…

      Like anything, once one becomes comfortable and proficient with the kit, the easier it is…The piece the ties it all together quite honestly, is the PVC T-Adapter, as this allows me to hang my j-pole for 2m off one eye-bolt, and off the other eye bolt, a sloper/NVIS or dipole for HF and the mast allows for hard mount yagi and/or scanner rigs…I could have 4 antennas off this one rig…

      Imagine a scenario where i hook up with a very switched on HF/QRP dude, he has a nice rig, and mad skills, and we sit side by side, running our rigs, nice little mobile commo toc…

      Add in my portable solar kit, and i can power multiple rigs off my panels and batteries…

      Again, this is NOT man-packable, never was the intention, but mobile, quick deployment for temp or semi permanent operations…my days of humpin the ‘bullet magnet,” are over, will leave that to you younger troops…i’m more of a mobile ops guys now…. 😉

      One thing not shown, is that mast system comes with a ground stakes, guys wires, and a pivoting hinge to allow to be set up in a grassy/dirt for more traditional field deployments….

      Feel free to reach out for more info on this….


      1. Mr. Bowman,

        Thanks for the information.

        Was the mount/hitch something you built? My original plan was to take one of the bulkhead type adapters for the masts, and try to fab something up.

        Anything that saves me from getting a welder involved is a plus.

        ; )

    2. Just a thought, but you could weld a piece of pipe to the side of your hitch, or a piece of square tubing the same size as your receiver, that would allow you to slide the mast inside.

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  3. Henry Bowman

    FYI gang,

    I bought from a fellow who custom makes em, here in NC, that i met thru another guy…

    I ordered off ebay, no longer listed, but do have an email into him asking if i can post his contact info and does he still make the hitch mounts…

    build quality is top notch, perfect welds, good fit and finish, all around good piece of hand made kit, from a local hambonze…

    cost was 120.00, and worth every penny to me….

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