Products & Product Reviews

Why Saddle Clamps Are a Good Choice for Amateur Radio Building Projects

In our blog’s ongoing exploration into the importance of paying attention to details when constructing an antenna, we would be remiss not to showcase the saddle clamp—the versatile fastener designed to grab onto piping/tubing and hold on for dear life.

When antenna-building or planning other station modifications, it’s best to first recognize that not all clamps have been designed with Ham Radio projects in mind. So before you make an investment that could compromise your build—or require major rehabbing down the road—ask yourself:

  • Are the clamps made from materials that are prone to rust?
  • Is the clamp’s surface designed for maximum grip of the tubing or is there possibility of slippage under significant axial load?
  • Are the clamps substantial enough to prevent elements from rotating during high winds?
  • How much of the saddle area comes in contact with the surface to which it is attached?
  • Are U-Bolts or V-Bolts long enough to attach tubing or components to thick mounting plates?
  • Are compatible bolt and nut sets readily available?
  • Are they made in sizes that fit most Ham Radio applications, such as mounting antennas or other apparatus?

Some Hams have made the mistake of using less-robust muffler-type clamps that come with the antenna or guillotine-style clamps that are fine for some uses but aren’t ideal when a stronger hold is needed. Often, tightening these clamps for a firmer grip only serves to damage the tubing. Then there are countless stories of plain steel clamps rusting long before their time.

Unsatisfied with these options, many operators turn to DX Engineering’s family of tested and proven saddle clamps, including U-Bolt, V-Bolt, Heavy-Duty and Super Duty varieties.

Featuring 18-8 grade stainless steel bolts (1/4″, 5/16″, and 3/8″ long) and 535 aluminum saddles, both DX Engineering U-Bolt and V-Bolt Saddle Clamps offer Hams rust-resistance and high strength for antenna and other projects. Unlike stamped or machined types, the saddles’ rippled surface grips tubing closely for a secure fit. These clamps are sold as a set with stainless steel nuts, bolts, flat washers, and lock washers. These clamps must be used on a flat surface or mounted on a customer-supplied backing plate.

For projects that demand an even greater clamping force, DX Engineering offers its Super Duty and Heavy-Duty Saddle Clamps. Super Duty clamps are ideal for building large Yagi or LPDA antennas. Combined with a DX Engineering stainless steel Saddle Clamp Reinforcement Plate (sold separately), Super Duty clamps attach to tubing and establish a secure mounting point on booms, masts, and element tubing. Cast from rugged aluminum and featuring a textured surface for better grip, the clamp’s two saddles deliver a premium fit that is resistant to torque, wind, and weather. They’re available to fit 2″, 2.5″, and 3″ O.D. tubing. Heavy-Duty clamps have all the benefits of the Super Duty clamps but fit smaller diameter tubing (.750″, 1″, 1.250″, 1.500″, 1.750″, and 2″). Builders can choose from stainless steel bolt and nut sets designed specifically for DX Engineering Heavy-Duty and Super Duty clamps.

Also available are DX Engineering Stainless Steel V-Clamps, which are perfect for mounting accessories to steel pipe. DX Engineering also carries galvanized economy clamps from Cycle 24.

Note: With all DX Engineering saddle clamps, the use of a lubricant and sealant, such as Jet Lube (JTL-2555), is required to achieve proper torque and prevent galling.

What do Hams think?

  • “Good quality stainless steel. Saddle is “toothed” for extra gripping power.” 
  • “I buy these DX Engineering Super Duty clamps by the caseload…and so should you. The single plate setup, using muffler clamps, is a pain to install. The double plate scheme, using DXE Super Duty clamps, is the real ticket. Bullet proof.”
  • “These Heavy-Duty element saddle clamps are just great. I have used them in various antenna projects, most recently a 20 meter rotatable dipole. They are just perfect for the job. Excellent and made for quick and easy installation. I will be buying more of these for sure.”
  • “I used these clamps for the radial ground plate and to mount the tilt base. Don’t even think of using muffler clamps! These are stainless steel, others will rust overnight!”
  • “Very heavy duty and fit great. Used them to connect my homemade rotor cage to the antenna mast.”

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