70 cm Yagi Tripod Mount

A correspondent has asked about the tripod mounting arrangement I use for the Arrow dual band 70cm/2m Yagi.

Photos: © Copyright 2016 Andrew VK1AD

VK1AD operating a FT-817 from the summit of Mt Perisher VK2/SM-007 at 2050 metres ASL

VK1AD operating a FT-817 from the summit of Mt Perisher VK2/SM-007 at 2050 metres ASL

The SLIK F153 aluminum lightweight tripod is designed to support a camera, however when I spotted the tripod in a local camera store, I immediately visualised a lightweight VHF/UHF Yagi, suitable for SOTA operations mounted to the tripod head.  The SLIK tripod sales promotion mentions the following features, which after using the tripod for the best part of three years are correct.

  • 3-way pan head with long panhandle for sure camera control.
  • Single bubble level (useful)
  • Rack and pinion geared center column with handle for controlled elevation of the camera.
  • Easy to attach quick release plate makes for easy mounting and dismounting of the camera.
  • Maximum height 1315 mm
  • Folded length 520 mm

If you substitute the words ‘Lightweight Yagi Antenna’ in place of ‘Camera’ the features stay true.

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tripod head mount

Mounting the Yagi – Lessons learned 

The quick release top plate is supplied with a short 1/4 inch, 20 TPI (BSW) fold-down wing screw and has a recess to accommodate a rubber-pad insert designed to grip the base of the camera.    The plate has a dovetail mount which mates with the tripod head mount.

For my first attempt to mount the Arrow, I drilled a 5 mm hole in aluminium boom (mid way) and tapped the hole with a 1/4 BSW 20 TPI thread tap.   The thread cut was clean, no issues, however after mounting and dismounting the antenna in the field, say 5 or 6 times it didn’t take long for the 1/4 inch thread in the aluminium boom to strip.  The cross-section of the boom isn’t designed for a 1/4 inch internal thread.  😦

To overcome this issue I replaced the 1/4 inch wing-head screw with 2 inch long 3/16 inch pan head screw.   Next I drilled a 1/4 inch hole through the antenna boom and deburred the hole for a clean finish.  With the 3/16 inch screw in the quick release plate, place the antenna boom over the screw and secure the quick release plate to the antenna boom with a nut and washer.  Retain the plate rubber pad insert, you need the pad to create a friction surface to hold the antenna boom steady when rotating the antenna on its axis.  You can select a screw size to suit your needs.

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quick release plate

Quick release plate mounted to the antenna boom by a 2 inch 3/16 pan head screw

Quick release plate

Quick release plate

view of the lower inner section of the quick release plate and pan-head screw

view of the lower inner section of the quick release plate and pan-head screw.  I should place a flat washer under the screw head.

antenna boom and top of the 1/4 inch screw, nut and washer

antenna boom with the quick release plate held in place by a 3/16 inch pan-head screw, nut and washer

Ready to fit the antenna to the tripod head mount

Tripod panhead and quick release leaver. Quick release plate fitted to the boom

view of the Tripod head and quick release dovetail lever. Quick release plate fitted to the boom

quick release plate mounted to the tripod panhead

quick release plate mounted to the tripod head.  Note the antenna elements are in the vertical position.

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Tripod head locked at 45 degrees

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Tripod head locked in the vertical position.  Note the antenna elements are now in the horizontal position

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the tripod mount is sturdy and suitable for chasing amateur radio satellites with a HT or the FT-817

IMG_1034 IMG_1041

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Tripod and the 2m elements in one bag

Arrow dual band Yagi with the 2m and 70 cm elements fitted to the boom

VK1AD SOTA Shack at Mt Nungar

VK1AD SOTA Shack at Mt Nungar

Reference / Links
SLIK F153 Tripod (n.d) in SLIK CORPORATION http://www.slik.co.jp/slik_com/UFS-F153.html

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6 thoughts on “70 cm Yagi Tripod Mount

  1. Excellent (as always!) Andrew. I have a ‘home brew’ Arrow which I put together for satellite work and is now gathering dust. I need to get back into satellites and also repurpose for parks/SOTA.

    Cheers
    Chris
    VK4FR

    • Chris, thanks for the feedback. I am not familiar with SOTA summits around Tvl. The SOTA region is VK4/NF. I gather there are plenty of National Parks in your region?

      Cheers
      Andrew (VK1AD)

      • There are a few summits in the TVL region that are accessible. I’m currently working VK5 and while predominately flat in most places there are several local SOTAs that I know you have spoken to through the the local gurus!

  2. Hi Andrew
    Thanks for all of this information. The whole arrangement is well thought through and doesn’t take up too much space or weigh too much. I have not seen the Arrow antenna before and it looks really well made. Square tube for the boom is a great idea. Your photos are so clear. There is no excuse for not getting busy at this end!
    cheers
    John D
    VK5BJE/VK5PF

  3. Pingback: SOTA – 2016 on 70cm 430 MHz | Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

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