As mentioned in a earlier post, I have been using the Vivitar VPT-1250 tripod with my AlexLoop, as suggested by the vendor, Alex PY1AHD. The Vivitar tripod has a few advantages. It’s very light, fits in the AlexLoop carrying case and it’s inexpensive. On the downside, it’s not particularly rugged. It’s a great solution for casual operating but I wanted something a bit more robust for operating in the field.
After doing some searching, I came across the UltraMaxx UM-TR60BK. It’s 60-inch tripod that is much sturdier than the Vivitar tripod. In particular, the very bottom sections of the legs are thicker than those of the Vivitar tripod. The bottom sections of the UltraMaxx are about 19/32″ (13.7mm) compared to 5/16″ (7.85mm) for the Vivitar. It also wasn’t very expensive. I found a source on eBay for less than $20 shipped.
One nice feature of the UltraMaxx is the accessory hook at the bottom of the center post. This can be used to suspend some weight to help stabilize the tripod in windy conditions. I envision using a bungee cord between the accessory hook and my backpack on the ground beneath the tripod.
Adapting the UltraMaxx tripod for use with the AlexLoop was a snap. I easily removed the pan head/camera mount, leaving just the bare center post. The center post is just slightly smaller than the opening of the AlexLoop tubing. So, I took a velcro cable tie, doubled it over and placed it on the center post as I placed the AlexLoop over the post. This gave a nice, snug fit. I also removed the handle attached to the underside of the tripod; I don’t envision a scenario where I would use it.
The sturdiness of the UltraMaxx tripod does come at a price. With the head removed, it only collapses down to 19 inches (48cm) compared to 14.5 inches (37cm) for the Vivitar. The UltraMaxx doesn’t fit inside the AlexLoop bag but it does attach neatly to the outside of my backpack. Also, the UltraMaxx weighs in at 1.3 lbs (584g) compared to 12 ounces (341g) for the Vivitar. For my purposes, this isn’t a huge trade-off.
I don’t plan to retire the Vivitar tripod anytime soon. It will keep its permanent spot inside the AlexLoop bag. It’s still a good solution for quick excursions to the local park. But when I’m out in more rugged conditions, I think the new UltraMaxx tripod will suit my needs a little better.
Now, all I need is some spare time to do some field testing the with the new tripod.
In my 40+ years in Amateur Radio, the AlexLoop Walkham was the first commercially-made HF antenna I ever bought. I wanted something for those spur-of-the-moment QRP outings when I want to get on the air quickly and not have to deal with putting wires into trees. The AlexLoop fit the bill nicely. There’s probably nothing novel or new here but here’s how I mount the AlexLoop for operation.
Tripod Mounting. While I was waiting for the AlexLoop to arrive from Brazil, I ordered a Vivitar VPT-1250 tripod from a vendor on eBay for less than $20. The VPT-1250 is super lightweight and stores nicely in the AlexLoop’s carrying bag. It’s a decent tripod for casual use but for something like a SOTA activation under windy conditions, you’d be better off with something more robust.
To use the VPT-1250, I removed the pan/tilt head. I cut a 4-inch piece of 1/2-inch PVC pipe, which I slide over the center post of the tripod. I added a bit of electrical tape to both the tripod post and the PVC pipe to give a slight friction fit. The base of the AlexLoop slides onto the PVC pipe.
Picnic Table Mounting. This is an idea I got from AK4LP’s QRZ page. For mounting to a table, I take the same piece of PVC pipe and insert it into a 1/2-inch PVC elbow fitting. I sanded the end of the PVC pipe so it was easier to remove from the elbow fitting.
I just use a 2-inch C-clamp to secure the pipe and elbow fitting to the side of the table. Again, the base of the AlexLoop just slides over the pipe. I store the PVC parts and the C-clamp in the tripod’s nylon carrying bag. When a picnic table is available, this mount goes to together faster than setting up the tripod.
If anyone knows the ham who came up with the picnic table mounting idea, let me know in the comments and I’ll make sure he gets credit for it.
UPDATE (11/16/2015): I remember now where I got the idea for the picnic table mount and have updated the post accordingly. Many thanks to Bob AK4LP for coming up with this simple and novel idea! Be sure to check out his page on QRZ.com for pictures of his picnic table portable setup. I had the pleasure of working him at that Smith Mountain Lake location back in 2013 while I was camping in Maryland.