What is a Telescoping Mast?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A telescoping mast is a mast comprised of sections which collapse into each other. There are a number of applications for a telescoping mast, and such masts are sold by a number of manufacturers and retailers. Some good sources for telescoping masts include hobbyist stores which cater to radio enthusiasts, telecommunications stores, and camping suppliers. They can also be ordered directly from manufacturers, with some companies providing custom lengths and configurations by request.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

In telecommunications, a mast is used to boost the signal. The higher the mast, the better the signal quality. However, a full length mast can be a difficult thing to transport or work with, which can be a problem for mobile operations. Masts can also be unsightly, which may be a concern for radio enthusiasts who do not want to upset the neighbors, or who would prefer to keep the area around a home uncluttered except when they are actively transmitting or receiving.

The telescoping mast design compacts down to a length which is easy to work with; it can often be loaded into a car or truck, for example, so that someone can travel with the mast. When it's time to set up, the segments can be pulled out to bring the mast to full length, and the segments can be locked in place so that the mast will remain fully extended. Once people are done, the process can be reversed.

Some telescoping masts are designed to bolt to cars, trucks, and other devices. The telescoping mast can remain collapsed during transit so that it will not create a navigation hazard, and be extended once the vehicle reaches an intended location. Military trucks used for communications often use this technique so that they have access to a clear signal while remaining mobile. Telescoping masts can also be fitted on structures such as homes, with the mast being retracted when not in use. Another use is in a field kit, with the mast being set up on the ground and extended for radio communications as needed.

A number of different materials are used for telescoping masts. People should think about how and where the mast is going to be used when selecting one, as the material may play a role in the functionality of the mast. Other considerations may include the attachments at the bottom of the mast which will determine whether or not it can be bolted to things and how the mast will be supported if it stands independently, and the length of the mast in collapsed form. People should also be aware that a telescoping mast can be very heavy, depending on which materials are used to make it.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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