DIY Mast Support

‘WINCH-IT-UP’  ANTENNA  MAST  SUPPORT CONSTRUCTION PROCEDURES

Figure 2

Figure 1

The ‘WINCH-IT-UP’ MAST SUPPORT was designed to complement the PUSHUP ANTENNA MAST by BEND-GARD® with its 5 foot sections.  See other links on this website for mast information.

FIXED OR PORTABLE USE

MUST HAVE FEATURES:

  • Can use fixed or portable
  • Easy to handle and set-up by one or two people (two much easier)
  • Is reasonably priced
  • Works with 5 foot sections of mast
  • Can support a hex antenna with rotator on top
  • Can reach at least a 40′ height using a strap winch
  • Can be easily moved to the site

The product I came up with is 10-12′ high when assembled (Figure 1) and has its’ two main sections made from a 4x4x12′ or 16′ pressure treated (pt) beam.  The longest (bottom) section  has to accommodate the adding/removing of 5′ mast pieces and space for a strap winch .  The top section can vary from 4 feet to 5-1/2 feet long.  The shorter length could be better for portable use if reaching the top standoff bracket is a long reach with a step ladder.  Between the lower and top sections is a 1” space to accommodate the winch’s strap opening.  Figures 1, 2, both show the top section with 4 feet due to easier ladder accessibility.

The portable version, Figure 2, has raised a mast with a K4KIO hex antenna and a Yaesu G-450A rotator to 40′ using 3 levels of  3-guys and a strap winch, and it was done by myself with a small assist from my spouse.  Of course, with a beam on top, guy control becomes very important and an extra man is handy and will cut the install time exponentially.

Figure 4

Figure 3

Not only does this design work for portable use, but can be easily adapted for more permanent use, such as attaching to the side of a building.  For this use the full 12′ length is recommended. Figure 3 shows my mast support attached to the end of my 15′ high garage.  For this permanent install I used the four guy (90°) setup with three levels of guys.  Figure 4 shows the finished product at the 50′ level with the K4KIO hex and a Yaesu G-450A rotator.

Another way is going the cement bucket route.  See Figure 6.  I have used a 6′ piece of 4×4 in cement and buried it down two feet.  Then I attached my Winch-It-Up’s lower section to the cemented 4×4 with two 8” long bolts.  It’s much easier to handle this way and you can disassemble it, if necessary.   (See CUTTING THE 4X4X12′ section for length of support pieces).

This mast was made using 5′ sections of 1.9” OD x 0.090” (13 gauge) wall galvanized steel fence rail and Bend-Gard® Couplers.  Other thicker wall sizes are available.   For info on the Bend-Gard® mast set-up, visit www.bend-gard.com/prepareraisemast.

Figure 6

Figure 5

PORTABLE USE

If you are interested in portable use, you can design your own base (Figure 5) as long as it functions to support the 4×4 and it accepts four re-bar stakes or the like, and then move on to CUTTING THE 4 X 4 X 12′.

FIXED USE

If using at home  and attaching to a building or placing in cement, then there’s no need to construct the base.  Proceed to cutting the 4×4 sections in the next paragraph.

CUTTING THE 4 X 4 X 12′  INTO SECTIONS

Note:  A list of materials I used is included at the end of the article.

The main support is made from a 4x4x12′ or 16′ pressure treated (pt) beam.  My permanent install is mounted to my garage and my backyard portable is above ground mounted so both  bottom sections were cut to 6-1/2′, the best length for this project.

If you’re thinking of burying part of the lower section of the 4×4 mast support in the ground or in a bucket of cement, then I suggest you use a separate 6′ section of 4×4 for burying in the ground and then attach the lower portion of the mast support to it with two 8” long bolts.  See Figure 6.  This way it’s easy to measure for the 6-1/2′ clearance necessary for the lower support section.  This may require buying an extra length of 4×4.  Your lower standoff needs to have 6-1/2′ open clearance from the bottom to the top of the lower mast section to allow the 5′ sections with couplers attached to be easily inserted.   Your top section should be 4′ or more.  If you don’t have enough of the 12 footer left for 4′, use a 4x4x16′ instead of the 12 footer.  Adjust your cut to keep at least a 4′ spread between the standoffs.

Figure 8

Figure 7

‘INSTALLING BRACES’ between the two 4×4 sections (Figures 7,8): First, cut two pieces, each 18” long, off of the 1 x 4 x 8′ pt board.  The next step is installing the 1 x 4 x 18” pt braces equally above and below the two 4×4 sections.  Both 4×4 sections need to be approximately level and in-line.  Separate the two 4×4 sections by a good inch (winch opening).  Place pieces of 1x4x18” on the top and bottom of the 4x4s equally overlapping the 1” space.  I clamped around the three pieces on one 4×4 side with two wood clamps.  We will drill and attach one side at a time.  That will allow us to line up the sections better if we don’t drill the holes perfectly.  Mark the four holes on one of the clamped sides as follows: All holes are in from the sides about 1”.   From the bottom of the top 4×4 section at the 1” opening, measure 1-1/2” in and mark on the 1x4x18” for the two holes.  Move in another 5-1/2” and mark the other two holes.   If you don’t have a long shafted 5/16” bit that will penetrate through the 3 pieces of wood (5+”) from the same direction, look for a smaller bit, say 3/16 x 12” or a wood drill bit that’s long enough.  I had a 3/16 x 12” bit that I used.  Then you can drill in from each side with the 5/16” bit.  Place a 5/16 x 5-1/2” hex bolt w/washer through the hole, washer, nut and snug it just tight.  If the 4×4 has moved out of alignment some, you can tap it back into position at this time.  Drill another hole and repeat the process.  Now the 1x4x18” is rigid on one end so you can remove the clamps and finish off the other two holes on this side of the 4×4.

Now you can do the other section of 4×4 in the same manner.  Check your 1” spacing, and your alignment with level and your eye and then clamp as before.  Drill and attach as done on the other side.

Figure 10

Figure 9

INSTALLING THE FLASHING: attach the flashing over the top of the bottom section (by the 1” separation) of the 4x 4x 6-1/2′.  See Figure 9.   Cut a piece of flashing at least 12” long and overlap it on the end of the 4×4.  The flashing will cut down on the friction when moving the strap.  Fold it flat on the edges and nail it as tight as possible.  I used four roofing nails on each side.

INSTALLING THE STANDOFF SUPPORTS AND BRACKETS (Figure 9):

Cut two pieces of 1×4 into 12” lengths.  Place one 1 x 4 x 12” support about 1” up from the top of the 1” winch strap opening.  So when mounted, the standoff bracket itself will be about 3” from the top of this 1” opening as shown in Figure 9.  This will be the side holding the mast so attach it on a side with a 1” opening.  Offset two 3/16” holes in the center area and attach with 5/16 x 2-1/2” lag screws.  Center the standoff bracket on the support and mark for the holes.  Drill 5/16” holes and secure with 5/16 x 1-1/2” hex bolts with washers and nuts.  Next mount the top standoff support just below the top of the structure in the same manner as the lower one and attach the standoff bracket.

MOUNTING THE GUY ROPE SCREW EYES (eye lags): Place the three ¼ x 3” eye lags  a couple of inches below the top standoff support.  Place them on the three other sides from the standoff support side.  Drill three staggered 3/16” holes then install.  Your lowest level of guy rope support attaches here.  Note:Screw eyes are not required if mast support is attached to a permanent wall.

MOUNTING THE WINCH (Figure 10).  It’s easier to install in the flat position before standing the support upright.  Position it on the back side from the standoff brackets and down from the 1” opening in a comfortable position, say 18”.  Mount it as square as possible.  You’ll need extra lag screws if not included with the winch.

The mast support structure is now complete.  Here are a few thoughts.

Figure 13

Figure 12

Figure 11

MOUNTING THE SUPPORT TO A BUILDING:

I found a couple of 2x4s on the garage wall and mounted connecting braces to them-lower and upper.   Also, note the orientation of the standoffs and mast. As you face your building, they are facing to the left.  See Figure 11.  This allows the winch to be installed and function properly.  At the top you will notice a 2×4” metal brace (Home Depot-about $3) that is not mounted square.  My top 4×4 pt section was warped a bit so this corrected the alignment problem.  See Figures 12,13.

Figure 15

Figure 14

Caution on winch hookup to mast (Figure 14): When attaching the winch strap to the mast pipe, I used a 2”  muffler clamp.  Clamp it in the web area just above the winch’s hook to a spot about 6” up from the bottom of the mast section.  Don’t over tighten the clamp and don’t place it in the zone where a Coupler will be placed as the muffler clamp may ding the pipe and then the Coupler won’t slide on to the pipe.

Figure 15 shows the Bend-Gard® products that along with the 1.9” galvanized fence rail or 1.740” OD EMT (industry size 1-1/2”) were designed to complement this Winch-It-Up Mast Support.

INVENTORY LISTING (MOSTLY)-Excludes base

  • 1 ea 4 x 4 x 12′ (or 16′, if needed) pt(pressure treated) beam
  • 1 ea 1 x 4 x 8′ pt board
  • 4 ea 5/16 x 2-1/2” lag screws(hex heads)
  • 8 ea 5/16-18 x 5-1/2” hex bolts, USS
  • 4 ea 5/16-18 x 1-1/2” hex bolts, USS
  • 12 ea 5/16” flat washers
  • 12 ea 5/16-18 nuts (threads to match bolts)
  • 3 ea ¼ x 3” screw eyes (eye lags)-Not needed if support is wall mounted
  • 1 ea 12” piece of 3” to 3-1/2” flashing w/8 roofing nails
  • All of the above came from a local hardware and lumber store except the flashing and roofing nails which I had laying around.
  • 1 pr standoff  brackets.   3-4” standoff brackets are commercially available.   3starinc.com has a large selection.
  • 1 ea strap winch 1500# came from Wal-Mart.  The brand I have is American Power-Pull.
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