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Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update

Hugh R. Paul (W6POK) on October 2, 2007
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Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update
Hugh R. Paul, W6POK,
Copyright 2007

Since publication of my original article on construction of a Hustler/Hamstick vertical dipole, in the June 2006 issue of CQ magazine, I continue to receive e-mail queries concerning construction, mounting and tuning of this antenna. For those of you who have not seen the article, some overview would seem appropriate:

I had requirements for a multi-band antenna that was easy to assemble/disassemble and could be transported by commercial aircraft, when on foreign work assignments. Over past years, a number of vertical antennas from all of the major manufacturers have been acquired. Most of them employed rather cumbersome matching networks and truncated counter poise components. One thing most had in common was their ground dependency. They would work reasonably well at say 10’ off the ground, but put them on top of a multi story apartment building and DX performance deteriorated severely. This fact was often not readily observed, unless one also had a standard dipole cut for the same band, which facilitated direct comparisons on both receive and transmit.

Design Concept
For years, the ARRL Handbook and Antenna book, have described a Ό wave vertical mounted on an insulator, with a horizontal quarter wave wire, insulated from the vertical component, running at a 90 degree angle to the vertical. Basically, a dipole with one leg horizontal, and the other vertical. This was in turn fed with 450 ohm ladder line. I used this antenna design for a period of time with good results. It would handle a kilowatt and was a good multi-band antenna. Cut for 40 meters, I could work 75m through 10m.

One day it dawned on me that this dipole configuration, but with a multi-band quarter wave vertical and individual mobile antennas, one for each band, replacing the single wire in the Handbook design, might make a good antenna for portable use. The small footprint presented by the design should also prove attractive to Hams with limited space for mounting antennas. An old Hustler 4-BTV stored in the garage seemed to be an ideal candidate for the vertical component of the antenna.

The Lakeview Company’s WD4BUM Hamstick mobile antennas were chosen for their low wind loading, thus negating the need for guying of the antenna itself. However, they do limit the power that can be handled. While the Hustler component is good for up to a kilowatt, the Hamsticks are limited to 600 watts PEP. This rating is somewhat less if operating beyond the 2:1 bandwidth point on 40m and 20m.

Construction Details
To isolate the Hustler/Hamstick antenna from the support mast, a 16” section of flexible black PVC water pipe of the type used for outdoor burial was employed. With an inner diameter of 1.25”, it was readily force fit over a standard 1.25” TV mast section.

Two of the Hamstick antennas were mounted opposed to each other by enlarging the Ό” holes in the Hustler mount, normally used for attaching the wire radials in a ground plane configuration, to 3/8”. The additional two Hamsticks were mounted opposed by means of a 1/16” inch thick, 1” wide and 5.5” long piece of aluminum bar stock. The bar stock was mounted just below the feed point of the Hustler, by means of a standard TV antenna U-bolt. A short jumper made from the shield of RG-8 coax connected the lower pair of Hamsticks to the upper pair. Both the bar stock and the PVC water pipe are available at Ace Hardware stores.

Tuning Procedures
Newtronics provides extensive setup and tuning procedures for the BTV series of antennas, predicated on the antenna being ground mounted or in a ground plane configuration, utilizing quarter wave radials. When configuring the 4-BTV to function as a dipole, it was deemed necessary to first determine the resonant point for each band and adjust the various antenna sections to achieve resonance at the desired point. This can be accomplished with an antenna analyzer or grid dip meter, but probably the majority of Hams do not have these instruments readily available. An alternative approach follows:

1. Mount the 4-BTV on the insulated portion of a 10’ mast, as described earlier in the article. Also install the mount and jumper for the lower set of Hamsticks just below the 4-BTV mount. 2. Cut a single quarter wave radial for each band, as per the dimensions in the Hustler assembly manual, plus add an additional 12” of wire. These will serve as the reference against which the 4-BTV will be tuned. Terminate one end in a spade lug and the other in an insulator, utilizing the extra 1’ of wire to wrap around and secure the radial. The four radials may all be installed at once and spread out in four directions or installed one at a time. Tuning results appear to be nearly the same either way. 3. Run the radials at a 45 degree angle from the ground lug on the 4-BTV mount, to a short stake in the ground. Employing an SWR bridge in the shack, the one in your antenna tuner or as a last resort, the bridge in your transceiver, you can begin procedures to tune the 4-BTV. 4. Starting with the 10m band, measure the SWR at the top end, middle and bottom end of the band. Follow the instructions in the Hustler assembly manual. If the antenna is short, lengthen the telescopic tubing section below the 10m trap. If the antenna is long, shorten the tubing sections until the resonant point is at the desired point in the band. The middle of the band is recommended. Repeat for all four bands. Record the frequency of the resonant point for each of the four bands. This will be important when installing and tuning the Hamsticks in place of the wire radials. 5. Once the initial tuning has been accomplished, remove the wire radials and install the Hamsticks, one for each band. Follow the tuning instructions supplied with the Hamsticks and resonate each one to the same frequency as achieved with the wire radials in place.

The 4-BTV achieves broader bandwidth than some other verticals due to the lower Q of the traps. This is an advantage when used in this configuration with the Hamsticks. By tuning the Hustler to the middle of each band, some flexibility exists with regard to how the Hamsticks are tuned. They can be tuned to favor a higher or lower band segment without unduly disturbing the balance between the two halves of the dipole.

No doubt some of you reading this article are going to raise the question of j factors at the feed point of the antenna. Feed point resistance and radiation resistance, are of course factors as they impact on efficiency of the antenna. However, one must remember that this is a multi-band antenna designed primarily for portable use and these factors are going to change from band to band, location to location, etc.

I have seen postings on this and other sites, that trap resonance on the Hustler is low, necessitating re-tuning of the traps to obtain an acceptable SWR. I personally have not experienced this problem with several of the 4-BTVs I have helped install. Talking with the good folks at DX Engineering, probably the major dealer for the BTV series of antennas, it was learned that this is primarily a problem that is experienced when the antenna is ground mounted in conjunction with a very extensive radial system. Newtronics will provide information on trap tuning, but will void any existing warranty, if attempted. DX Engineering provides an extensive tuning procedure for the traps and they will stand behind the warranty, if the antenna was purchased from them.

The majority of e-mail queries received from those interested in building the antenna have related to construction and tuning. This has been pretty well covered herein. Some additional questions have been:

What is optimum height for mounting the antenna? I don’t know. I have only raised the antenna higher than 10’ above ground on a temporary basis. The most noticeable change is on 40m. Some re-tuning of the Hamsticks was required, but performance definitely improved. Into the Pacific area, the 4-BTV beats out a 40m dipole at 30’ above ground. In the continental U.S. the dipole will average up to an S unit (6db) better than the vertical.

At 10’ above ground, the antenna operating on 20m outperforms a 20m dipole mounted at 30’, when working stations in Europe and the Middle East. I have a full size 20m ground plane with four radials, also mounted 10’ above ground. A/B switching between the two usually shows no difference in signal strength reported by European stations.

These days the antenna is mounted permanently at my summer residence. I successfully hold schedules on both 40m and 20m with the antenna several days a week. My approach to DX is quite casual, but over the past two summers have worked 119 countries on all continents with 100 watts. The majority were on 20m SSB and 40m CW

Several Hams asked for my opinion on using this Hamstick approach with the 5-BTV and 6-BTV. In theory it should work, but I would question the efficiency on 80m, which is none too good under normal circumstances, let alone the bandwidth issue. Two many Hamsticks mounted less than 90 degrees apart would increase the inter-action, negatively in my opinion. Performance on 30m may work ok. Perhaps I will try this with another antenna soon.

Member Comments:
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Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by K6TXD on October 2, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
Why the insulating pipe?
Electron Spin - Rotational Inertial Conservation  
by KA4KOE on October 2, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
Great to see the article up again. Funny things happen out there on the internet...dem lil electrons spin the wrong way sometimes and the whole shebang goes KAPLOOOEY!!


Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by AC6IJ on October 2, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
This is a real interesting idea for sure. I am thinking that it would be better with 2 hamsticks for 80 meters and 2 for 40 meters.

The antenna would be a better performer on 40 and 80. Bill
Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by KE3WD on October 2, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
Good article, good idea, fundamentally sound and well described with good writing.

RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by W4VR on October 2, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
Hugh: ever try using two hamsticks in a horizontal or vertical dipole configuration?
Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by W9WJU on October 2, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
How about using two Hamsticks horizontally and feeding them with 450 ohm ladderline and using a tuner to tune on let's say 40 meters and it should work on the other bands(20, 15,10)? This would become a zepp type antenna. What do you guys think?

Joel Miner W9WJU
RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by W6POK on October 2, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
Yes, the Hamsticks can be configured as either a horizontal or vetical dipole, though I do not have a lot of experience in that configuration. Did learn that height is very important, the higher the better. It is also imperative that each Hamstick be adjusted to the exact same length. Takes a fair while to get them tuned and in balance.

Of course you are limited to a single band. Lakeview does offer a dipole mount for the Hamsticks, which looked good when I saw them at the Orlando Hamfest.
RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by W6POK on October 2, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
To answer W9WJU. In theory feeding a Hamstick dipole with 450 ohm ladder line will work. Would not anticipate multi-band performance being much, if any, good.
RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by W6POK on October 2, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
Responding to AC6IJ.
The addition of two Hamsticks for the same band, in conjunction with the 4-BTV, presents some rather complex feed problems. The thought that they could be stagger tuned in order to get a broader bandwidth on a given band, while continuing to feed the antenna with RG-8U and no antenna tuner did not prove, in my case, to be very practical.
RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by N6AJR on October 2, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
I did the old 2 hamstick dipole a whhile back, very hard to tune, and not a great performer. nothing works as well as large capture area, IE: Isotrons will tune, but are not very sensitive,

Give me a good old Fan Dipole, cheaper and works better
RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by AC6IJ on October 2, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
Give me a good old Fan Dipole, cheaper and works better:

But were trying to solve the real estate problem here and not be unsightly to the neighbors. Bill
Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by K0DCH on October 2, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
I have used two hamsticks as a dipole on 17m for quite a while. I mount it on an old windsurfing mast that I "appropriated" from my wife, so it is up about 10 ft.

I have worked Japan from my qth in the foothills of the rocky mountains when the sunspots were better.

Seems to work fairly well for me and was not hard to tune up with an MFJ antenna meter.

RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by N6AJR on October 2, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
My first antenna for HF was a fan dipole for 10,15, 20, 40, and 80 m on the roof of the appartmnt I lived at ( 1 story) and was actually pretty darn good. I have a couple of sets of 10, 12, 15, 17, 20, 30, 40, 80m hamsticks with the double center gizmo, and the extender shaft from hustler and such, but it never really worked well. Probably it was more efficient on 10 and 12 m as it is closer to full size, but was virtually deaf on 80.

I do better with a screwdriver and a set of decent radials.
RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by OLDFART13 on October 2, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
How about making a 160m, 2 element beam using 4 hamsticks?
RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by KE5QKT on October 3, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
I wonder if this concept would work with a screw driver like the HS-1800, with the ham stick radials??

Great article!!!

Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by KK0DJ on October 3, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
Hugh... very good article. Nice to see someone working with affordable antennas and making it all work. Stuff is so expensive these days in the realm of antennas. Thanks for your work and sharing it with us.
RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by AI4WC on October 3, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
I use a Hamstick dipole setup using the Lakeview mount and a DX Engineering HO-5 current balun off my second floor balcony and have had many European contacts on 20 Meters with 100 watts with MY FT-897. The dipoles can be tuned according to the Lakeview procedures which are a bit involved, but when done, you have a good space-saving compromise. Sure, I'd have a big yagi if I could, but we have to make do sometimes, and I think the Hamsticks are a reasonable and inexpensive way to go. By the way, get the "quick disconnects" for the Hamsticks-they are worth every penny of their cost.
RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by AE6QF on October 3, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
This was the best hands-on article published in CQ magazine in a long time.

73, Quiet-Finger, AE6QF
Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by KB0GU on October 4, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
I have a set of mobile hustler resonators and the fold over mast in the garage that were mothballed when the assembly came off my truck on the highway one day due to vibrational loosening of the mast in the mount. That was scary! But, I beleive it could be employed with the BTV in the back yard and change out the resonators rather easily for band changes, or find a couple more used mobile masts and go for it with 4 mounted permanently under the BTV. If base is mounted at 10 foot getting to resonators could be accomplished if the masts were mounted at more than a 90 degree angle, say 135 degree, like the old droopy ground planes of years ago! This is going to be my next antenna project!
Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by WA6DXI on October 5, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
I'm a full time RVer and have been using the 4-BTV for over a year with great results. Look me up in the "Call Search" hear on and see a picture of the setup.

As you see the 4-BTV is ground mounted and bungee corded to my rear view mirror. My radials are 2 - 13' (1/10 wave length on 40) and 2 - 6.5' (1/10 wave length on 20).

I've tried 2 1/4 wave radials for each band and elevated mounting, but the above seems to work the best (very low SWR on all bands) and is also very easy to set up and tear down, about 10 to 15 min. for each.

Have a GREAT DAY & 73s

RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by KD8CGF on October 7, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent idea. For a change, I already had everything I needed in my garage to try this out, including 2 pairs of matched hamsticks, 20M & 40M, 30 feet of 450 ohm ladder line, vise grip with welded & drilled angle bracket (see, insulated mounting sockets & hardware to match, an MFJ 949e tuner, a Kenwood TS-520 boatanchor, and a aluminum patio roof 12 feet up with angle brackets conveniently fastened at the tops of the support pillars.
I installed the hamstick mounting hardware at 90 degree angles on the vise grip bracket, had to use one with a mounting lug to give sufficient clearance to attach the ladder line ends to both antenna sockets. I added alligator clips to the upper end of the 450 ohm ladder line and clipped one ladder line lead to the antenna mount with the mounting lug & the other lead to antenna mount's SO-239 center pole. Strain relief provided with a strip of Velcro between the ladder line & the vise grips.
The 20M matched hamsticks were screwed into the mounting sockets at 90 degree angles, the whole structure then clipped to the roof bracket.
The ladder line dropped vertically 8 feet to the input of the 949e, configured to switch a balanced antenna feed to an unbalanced one, then to the TS-520.
Fortunately this is the weekend of the California QSO party, so 20M was very busy at the time I tested this setup. Tuning was quick & easy. The hamsticks were only roughly match-tuned prior to this test. I could hear dozens of CQ's across the band and could distinguish many responses in the pileups. Using about 110 watts SSB I made 14 QSO's in about 50 minutes just dialing across the band. Performance of this double hamstick was very similar to a minimally tuned 20M horizontal dipole hanging 14 feet up and much better than a single vertical hamstick mounted at the same point & connecting by coax to the tuner.
This antenna has a lot of bang for the buck. I'll have to refine the connections & weatherproof them. I may switch from 450 ohm ladder line to coaxial cable. I spend about a month a year on the road living out of my (very small) pickup mounted camper. This seems like an cost-effective, quick, easy & portable dipole to clip onto the roof at campsites. It might even work as a mobile antenna if the horizontal element were mounted to point toward the rear of the camper.
RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by N6HPX on October 9, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
Always heard of the concept years ago and had thought of setting up a system. Been looking at the Buddipoles and the new Comet V-Beam but the prices on some set some people off. For the price on both arent a problem. But getting it home to DU1 land is. Would love to check this out more.

enroute to Guam by ship
RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by N9FAA on October 11, 2007 Mail this to a friend!

For ten meters, could you feed two horizontal hamsticks from a dipole balun?

hamstick balun hamstick

RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by AE6QF on October 11, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
N9FAA. You may enjoy a peek at Cebik's article on page 52 of December 1999's QST.
He shows a pair of whips, {or Hamsticks}, with one vertical & one horizontal. They're fed with a balun, of course.

73, Quiet-Finger, AE6QF
RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by N6HPX on October 12, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
always wanted to hook one up and its alot cheaper I think than some other antennas advertised and also to transport..especially in some islands I interesting to try out on a mast at 25 ft.
RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by N6HPX on October 13, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
wonder if anyone ever used it with the hustler interesting to try out
RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by WA2JJH on October 14, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
TNX FER GUD ARTCL. Lots of great advice for us "City Slicker hams with restricted roof rights.

I have found the wonders of fiber glass mast sections too. I hope to get my hands on some traps on ebay.

RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by WA2JJH on October 14, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
TNX FER GUD ARTCL. Lots of great advice for us "City Slicker hams with restricted roof rights.

I have found the wonders of fiber glass mast sections too. I hope to get my hands on some traps on ebay.

RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by W6POK on October 15, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
Yes, two hamsticks will make a good dipole on 10meters, provided you get the dimensions so that both sides are balanced. A balun is not required unless you want to feed with 450 balanced feedline. Coax is a good match with bandwidth below 2:1 being almost the entire band.
RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by W6POK on October 15, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
In response to N6HPX. Hustler mobile whips will work fine. However, they add conserable weight and wind load to the antenna. A major factor, if you wish to mount the 4BTV without guys. The larger Hustler mobile whips with the larger coils will allow you to run more power to the antenna.
RE: Hustler/Hamstick Vertical Update  
by N6HPX on October 16, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the comments on the hustler coils use to run them off the car but was thinking of a masts mounted item on my home QTH. Not sure if I should use the masts that come with these when you install em off your car or try something else. I have been trying mostly wire dipoles like G5RV's and the Double bazookas, but as like most of us love to experiment.

also DU1
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