Portable Maypole Antenna Setup
What I learned by doing it
By Warren Andreasen –
The Maypole antenna is a wonderful antenna and by using the
telescoping pole, it makes a great emergency antenna and it has exceptional
performance. The antenna can be transported to the disaster site and installed
to obtain full base station quality signals.
The antenna design as presented on here, can be erected by
one person, or so the claim. I decided to put it to the test and erect the antenna
in my back yard. I learned that there is theory and there is practice, and they
are not exactly the same
The finished antenna (installed) is guyed at about the
5-foot level and again at the 30 foot level and of course the antenna wires
themselves become the guys for the top 32 foot level. It is true, a strong
hurricane could not blow down this antenna.
Follows are some lessons I learned in the process of putting
up the antenna by myself.
- Wear a hat, I didn’t and my face and neck is all
sunburned from the Arizona Sun.
- The base plate needs to be secured fairly well, not
only to keep it from sliding laterally but to help hold it down if you
forget to put your foot on the base plate, or your foot slips off of the
base while pushing up sections. It is not good for
the base to lift off of the ground as it might move sideways causing a
tip-over and collapse. One could, if desired, guy the base to the same points as the 5-foot
section top. While not required it would be ultra-safe to do so because
even if the base lifted accidentally, it still could not swing and cause a
pole collapse. This should not be necessary but it is an option that could
be used if for any reason the ground is either too soft or too hard (like
rock) to securely anchor the base directly to the ground.
- The guying at the top of the first, base section is
extremely important. It is the only section that can be fully guyed before
the entire pole has been extended. Make sure the section is exactly
vertical and guyed with heavy guys, as a lot of stress will be placed on
these guys as the pole is extended. Remember, the other guy wires are not yet in place. Nylon is not the
best material for this lower section, not because it is not strong enough
but because it is rather elastic and does not hold the pole rigid enough
to keep the pole steady in a breeze. One could use steel cable then when
the entire antenna is up and guyed, replace the lower guts with
clothesline or something else. Heavy stress is only applied during the
raising or lowering of the pole. If the pole is to be left in place for an
extended period, be sure and use a guying material that will stand up to
the Sun and not become brittle and break.
- Don’t try to put up the pole by yourself if the wind
starts blowing. While you can put the pole up by yourself, do not try it
in the wind, or even a strong breeze.
- The holes where the bolt goes through to support the
above sections and the T-Bolts that hold the section in place while the
bolt is inserted can be very confusing in practice. Normally you will have to
telescope the lower section up so that you can see the bolt hole, then you
have to turn the T-bolt to loosen the various sections in the proper
order. You are working with three sections, the one pushed up, the one it
telescopes out of (to be pushed up), and the one below… and it is easy to not notice the
T-bolt you are turning does not affect the section it is on, the effect is
on the one above it. Twice I did it wrong and had the unexpected drop of a
section. When this happens it is also easy to try and
grab the falling section and have your had pinched between the two
sections. That hurts! (I know, it happened to me).
- Before you put up the pole you must have the platform
on the top, all antenna wires attached, and of course you have the coax.
It is tough to have all of this wire at your feet and not step on it or
get it tangled. Trying to push up sections while you are standing on the
wire just does not work. Don’t over-tighten the platform hold-down screw,
as it is helpful if it has enough slip so that it will align itself with
the antenna wires when they are tied down.
- All of the top sections and wires are heavy. By the
time you get to the last section, to push up that last section you need
- A person who is at least 6 feet tall.
- This person must have a very strong upper body.
- It really should be dead calm, any breeze at all
pushes the extended sections to one side and a lot of lateral pressure is
placed on this last section causing it to becomes hard to slide.
- If there is a breeze there should be at least four
people holding the antenna wires as this way the pole can be kept from
bending with the wind and the job becomes much easier. When out for a
forest fire, there is always wind.
- Another thing I learned; my back yard is not large
enough for the 75 Meter wires. A lateral distance of about 120 feet end to end is
required and even though I have a fairly large back yard, I still would
have had to anchor one wire in the middle of my neighbor’s yard… not a
Conclusion of the installation:
Yes this antenna can be installed by one person working alone however
conditions need to be dead calm and the person must be strong, and tall.
Takedown was rather uneventful.
As the pole is lowered all of the still attached guys remain attached, which is
good because it keeps them from piling up into a huge tangled mess.
When the pole is fully
collapsed remove the top platform with all of the wires attached. Loosen the
far ends form their tie-down but leave everything attached to the platform (at
least this is what I did). I then moved the platform to one side and brought
all wires and coax stretched out straight, all together as one bundle. I then
took a wind-up spool I purchased from Home Depot and starting at the far end,
wound up all wires until I reached the platform. In theory, the next time I
want to put up the antenna I should be able to simply de-spool the bundle and
lay out the untangled wires for a fast and easy installation.
The two most important key
- Solid guying of the first section. Use long guys that
have no elasticity and use a wide footprint. As the pole is extended, very
heavy pressure is placed on these guys. If they fail, everything comes
crashing down. Make sure the guys are anchored securely and cannot pull
- The person pushing up the sections needs to be very
strong. By the time you get to the last section I would estimate, the
pusher is lifting at least 40 pounds. While not required, a second person
would make the job easier by inserting the bolt while the first person
holds up the pole sections. One person can do it but by the time you are
working on the last section all of the weight has to be held up with one
hand until the person can tighten the T-bold. I recommend a second person
for that last section.
In a pinch, one person can put
up this antenna, if there is no wind and the person is very strong. If given a
choice, it is far better to have some help, and under difficult conditions,
with wind blowing, I can see as many as six people working together. One person
each on each antenna wire (4), or one person each on the mid-point guy ropes
(3), with another person pushing up the pole with a second person inserting
bolts (for the lower section anyhow).
It is good to know that this antenna can be put up and taken down by one
person working alone however I would rather have some help.