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Japan Castles On The Air (JACOTA)

Compact/Light weight Tripod for JACOTA Operations

Greg Cook, JO3SLK

The State of Emergency in Japan has limited my ability to travel and visit castles to operate ham radio, so this month I am writing about a compact and lightweight tripod. This will make it easier when visiting castles with a lot of steps, high mountain location or other circumstances that make a heavier tripod cumbersome.

I also mentioned in previous issues that I took lot of luggage on JACOTA's castle visits. As a result, I bought a cart to bring radio equipment and antennas to operate on. The antenna is one of the important equipment in the luggage to be brought in. Now that I have a lightweight and convenient tripod for installing the antenna, I would like to introduce its usability. The tripod introduced this time is from Buddipole® of the United States.

The tripod consists of three 5-section legs made of carbon fiber and a molded base plate with holes to attach the legs.

The carbon fiber legs

The legs are very light, but strong, and are quite stable when you have them inserted and locked into the base unit. A thin hook and loop strap holds the arm sections together while carrying. The legs are similar to shock-corded tent poles, so you could make your own tripod with them.

Each leg has an elastic cord inside that is attached to a small molded piece that is inserted through a slanted hole in the base, and then is turned and fits into a groove to lock the leg into place. Details are shown later on, and below on the left.

There is a slot in the piece that enables the cord to be flush inside the piece so you can push it through the hole in the base unit. See the picture shown below on the right.

The base unit and connectors

The plate has a BNC connector for your coax, and 3/8 x 24 socket to accept Buddipole® accessories to create an antenna, a terminal for a counterpoise or ground and a ¼” socket on the bottom.

The base unit can be mounted on a regular tripod, when used in very windy conditions, or near your shack where you don’t need the light weight of the carbon fiber tripod legs. You can also use insert a screw and ring into the bottom socket and use it to attach weights or tie the tripod down to tent stakes for added stability.

The legs and base unit assembled

Distance between the legs is approximately 110 cm, quite wide for a medium height tripod. The height of the tripod at the base unit is 128 cm.

You can see how the molded pieces fit into the base and lock the legs in place.

Antenna example on the tripod

The AL-705 Magnetic Loop Antenna (Icom’s export model) works great with the tripod. Both are compact and easy to assemble.

I use a small accessory pouch to hold camera lenses and other items when I am out taking pictures. You can put sand or rocks in the pouch to add weight to make the tripod even more stable.

Weight pouch and ball head

The weight pouch hangs from the metal ring that is attached to the bottom of the base plate. You can also attach ropes to the ring and then tie them to tent stakes driven in the ground.

I mounted a small inexpensive camera ball head onto the base unit, and then attached the tuning box of the AL-705 to the head. This is convenient if you are on uneven ground, so you can compensate for it by tilting the ball head and keeping the antenna straight.

Packed and ready to visit a castle

The tripod, base unit, AL-705, accessory pouch and all cables fit nicely into the LC-192 backpack, along with the IC-705 and its accessories. This enables me to hike into a castle, set up and operate within a short time and without being tired of hauling in too much gear.

LC-192 (especially designed for the IC-705)

Future JACOTA castle articles

As of May 25th, 2021, several prefectures here in Japan are under a State of Emergency (SoE) which includes limits on traveling. We all hope that the COVID-19 situation will improve a lot soon, and so the SoE can be lifted. When that happens, and depending on the real life circumstances in Hyogo, Osaka and Kyoto prefectures, I will be able to decide if I can look for the next castle to visit and operate from. I am really looking forward to it, and to take you along.

Until then, 73, take care, and be safe.

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