Tag Archives: SOTAbeams Carbon 6

Mike compares the new Explorer POTA20 with the venerable SOTAbeams Carbon 6 Mast

Last week, I ran into my good friend Mike (KE8PTX) at Hamvention, and he was bursting with excitement over a new product he’d just purchased: the Explorer POTA20 Carbon Fiber Mast at GigaParts.

Mike is a massive fan of the SOTAbeams Carbon 6 telescoping pole and has been through two of them over the years he’s been doing field radio work. He told me that the new Explorer POTA20 is even better than the Carbon 6.

I don’t think Mike knows it yet, but after his recommendation, I ordered an Explorer mast—it’s backordered, so it’ll be a month or two before it ships.

Mike took this photo of his mast from a POTA activation this morning. You can see the mast left of the dead tree.

Mike is also a brilliant designer and has made a 3D-printed tent stake holder that fits on the end of both of these poles. He told me that these 20′ carbon fiber masts are so lightweight that there’s no need for guying the pole, even in fairly windy conditions. His simple tent spike is all that’s needed to hold a carbon fiber mast in place.


In the following video, Mike compares the Carbon 6 with the new Explorer mast and speaks to the utility of using a tent spike to secure the mast:

Thank you, Mike, for sharing this video and the tip about the new Explorer mast!

Again, it’s currently backordered at the time of posting, but you can place an order at GigaParts. The price is $79.95 plus shipping.

Field Kit Gallery: W4EMB’s Penntek TR-45L Portable Kit

Many thanks to Ed (W4EMB) who shares the following article about his portable field radio kit which will be featured on our Field Kit Gallery page. If you would like to share your field kit with the QRPer community, check out this post. Ed writes:

My QRP Portable Set up

by Ed (W4EMB)

Radio: I have one priority rig I use 99% of my time. It is the TR45L Penntek. I have both versions. The fullsize one with built-in tuner and battery, I also have the “Skinny” version. The skinny does not have the tuner nor battery. My second Rig is the Yaesu 817 with the Windcamp Battery upgrade. I also have a 40m only QSX and the 5 band TruSdx.

Penntek TR45L Skinny with external batter and external tuner.

Antenna:  I use the Chelegance MC-750 most of the time, but also use a Homebrew EFHW with 49:1 balun and 67’ of wire.

I have the QRP guys Tri-Band vertical kit, and two pieces of 16ga Speaker wire cut to 33’ that I carry as well. To support the EFHW and Speaker wire antenna, I use the SOTABEAMS 10m (32 ft) “Travel Mast”.

For the QRP Guys Tri-band vertical, I use the SOTABEAMS Carbon-6 ultra light 6m (19.6 ft) mast. To support the 32’ mast I usually just lean it into the trees and slope my EFHW up from the feed point.

For the speaker wire antenna, I run the “red wire” straight up the mast while it is strapped to the picnic table. The “black wire” is simply thrown out across the ground. I might even elevate the black wire with sticks.

My carbon-6 fits right into a piece of 1 ¼ inch PVC pipe I have clamped to my brush guard on my van. Or, I use a Tiki-Torch stake to hold my carbon-6 in open ground.

carbon-6 with Tiki-Torch stake supporting and using the Tri-band Vertical.
carbon-6 inside of PVC pipe with the QRP Guys Tri-band vertical.

I find for me, that my QRP Guys antenna works great on 20m without a tuner. But when I try to use it on 30m or 40m, I require a tuner. For this reason, I lean on my MC-750 to be the main antenna.

I have modified my MC-750 slightly. I made my own set of radials to match the factory ones. I chose to make them out of silicone wire. I find it to be more flexible and does not kink or tangle as easy as the standard factory radials. I used 3mm banana plugs and 24ga yellow wire. I also crimped small ring connectors onto the ends of the radials. I did NOT strip the insulation and place them on the wire. I simply crimped them on the silicone. I use them to stake down the wire. I use four nails as “stakes” to pin the wire down. I find I only stake the radials out when I am on un-even ground.

The second modification, I made a set of “double” radials out of 26ga green silicone wire. Colors do not matter. It is what I had. I spread them evenly around the base of the MC-750.

MC-750 with “double radials” and RG316 for coax.

My key is a Czech military straight key from the 1950s. It was new old stock when I bought it. I also carry a small mini set of paddles. For the TR45L radio, I can not play my recoded CQ or 73 with out a paddle. The “play” button is dit or dah trough the paddle jack.

For coax, I use RG316 and the appropriate adapter for the MC-750.

I have two pencils from Kuru Toga. One pencil is .5mm the other is .7mm. I make my own POTA log sheets and I paper log, and then type them later. I am a not talented enough yet to play with a tablet or PC while operating. I have only done CW for the last 12 months.

On my table: I have a really thin yoga mat. I find the concrete picnic tables a bit rough on my equipment. The yoga mat can get a bit sticky when it is warm, so I drape a small hand towel over the edge where my arms lay. I also have a Write in the Rain tablet in full size paper. I have been out early in the mornings in this summer and humidity and steamy fog makes normal paper hard to write on. The .7mm pencil matches up well with the Write in the Rain paper.

Chelegance antenna pictured in the background. K-2965 Paris Landing State Park

I have found CW and POTA have re-energized my ham radio hobby and resurrected it from a dusty shack, to a fun out door activity.

My first challenge was how to get from the car to the table in one trip. Downsize to the necessities. Next was figuring out the antenna and radio combo that could work in different conditions. By conditions I mean space.

Location, location….. I had a dog run between me and my antenna. It pulled my radio right off the table and tumble behind the dog. So now I choose my locations like Bill Hickock… always face the door. Hihi. Food for thought.

Thank you to Thomas for inspiring me to get out there and do it. His you tube videos were great copy practice to give me the confidence to get out there. Finally, my Elmer. John, KM6NN. Without him I would have never started my CW journey. He is a true Elmer in every definition of the word. I am proud to know him and lucky he is in my life. Thank you John.


Note: Check out W4EMB on YouTube as he makes his 1st POTA “Kilo” 

Steve is QRV in the Swiss Alps

Steve (MW0SAW) and I were recently exchanging emails and he has kindly allowed me to share a few photos and details of the QRP field kit he has taken on holiday:

I’m currently in Switzerland (ski holiday)–I did bring the Venus SW-3B. I was very surprised to get 2 USA stations last weekend with 4-5 watts in the ARRL CW contest.

Only a couple of Europeans today. But it’s all fun and I did have a lovely morning ski so can’t complain lol.

My gear:


Wow, Steve! I would love to be in Switzerland right about now. I’ve got a bucket list item to journey there someday (in summer months) and activate at least 10 summits. Having lived in Grenoble, the Alps always feel a bit like home.

I love how compact your setup is and obviously the K6ARK EFHW is doing the trick if you’re making contacts State side with QRP and during a contest competing with the big guns!

Hmmm…I’m now thinking I might grab a second Maxpedition Fatty Pouch. I just checked and Maxpedition still has the “buy one, get one free” deal on their website.  The link above goes to Amazon (hence the affiliate link which my site auto-converts) because pricing is typically best there, but I believe you get an even better deal at present going directly to the source; especially if one could use two pouches!

Thanks again, Steve, for sharing your field kit photos and notes!