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Author Topic: Tower and Yagi for New Station  (Read 3534 times)
AJ1Y
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« on: November 29, 2011, 10:40:35 PM »

After many years of being off the air, I am planning become active once again.  At present, I live in BA4-land and will return to my old call area of New England in early 2012.  We are in the process of having a house built.  I know that I want a yagi for 5 bands.  I want a crank up tilt over tower (possibly motorized) as I am 60 now and do not want to be climbing towers as I try to enjoy this hobby in my forthcoming (several years hence) retirement. 

I am in the process of contacting some ARRL VCE's to get their ideas and suggestions and I must admit that I have yet to do much research.  There is no HOA or CC&R's that I can detect in my area - no limitations listed in the P&S agreement.  The town zoning rules permit one amateur radio tower of up to 100' with certain limitations.

I would appreciate any thoughts that any of you who have experience undertaking such a project would have.  In particular, what should I do right away during the house construction phase (if anything) to make my tower/antenna and station building easier later?  What books would people recommend I consult? 

Given that I do not plan to participate in contests but simply to try to work some DX and also rag chewing, what tower and antenna combinations would people suggest?  Just to through something out for discussion, what do folks think about a TH-11dx  on top of HDX 555?

What steps to do first? Looks like I need a design to get the engineering info to get a permit? Appreciate any thoughts, ideas, suggestions!!  Smiley

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K2DC
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« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2011, 11:40:09 PM »

Whether or not you need Engineering data for the tower project depends entirely on your local zoning regulations, and how your zoning authority regularly does business.  I live somewhat out in the country where zoning requirements are not very stringent.  When I applied for my permit 8 years ago I put together a package with all of the drawings for the tower, antenna and rotor - all of which the zoning officer ignored.  All he needed to see was that the setback from the house and property line were gretaer than the height of the tower.  That alone and $20 got me the permit, and they didn't even come to inspect when it was done.  Best bet is to get in touch with the local zoning authority before you start to find out what they need so that you're fully prepared.

As far as the project goes, there are several things you should put some thought into before things get too far along.  Such as:  Where are the shack and the tower going to be located?  How are you going to get the feed line(s) and control cables out of the house and out to the tower?  How much growth do you expect for later antennas/controls?  Do you need 220V to the shack (recommended)?  What about grounding?  Answers to those and other questions can make things a heck of a lot easier if they're carefully pre-planned.  I'm sure you'll get lots of other suggestions here.

GL with the project.

73,

Don, K2DC
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AJ1Y
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2011, 12:22:55 AM »

Thanks Don!

I think you are right about the setback etc.  The problem is that I am close to the point where my planned tower height is longer than its distance from the property line - e.g. the setback is 30 feet in the regs and given the position of the house (which I will need to verify when I get home for Christmas), using a 50' tower as allowed in the back or side yard, may complicate things.  But I guess the best thing for me to do is to visit with the zoning regs people. 

As to the operating location, I plan for it to be in a room on the first floor which is more toward the front right side of the house and the tower must be located nearer the rear center of the house (based upon my assessment of the zoning regs) etc).  On the 220VAC, I have that on my list of things to talk to the builder about and also addition 110VAC plugs in that operating room.  As to the control lines, transmission lines, I will probably need to run through the basement. 

I am completely clueless on the grounding issue - I sure could use some references to better understand the grounding issues.  For example, I think I would want the distance from rig to ground as short as possible (that is my guess).  But I need to study up on grounding systems because there seem to be a number of necessary grounds. A good reference for such various grounding systems would be appreciated.

I look forward to other guys suggestions also!!

Best 73's

Joe
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WB3CQM
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« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2011, 04:59:16 AM »

I view the TH-11DX as a very poor choice of beam. I looked at the dBi on the antenna. I also would say the weak point is the traps !

Compare the the TH-11DX to a C-31XR and you will see the Force 12  C-31XR is in a class of its own. True the C-31XR does not have 17 and 12 but with a tuner I work 17 and 12 any way. One thing I will add , on 17 meter band I find increased gain by turning the beam in opposite direction of the station. Also Force 12 makes many beam to chose from that also include 12/17 meter bands. I would by far take a Steppir beam over TH-11DX.

If you plan to shunt feed your tower for 160/80 you might consider a beam that the elements are NOT insulated from the boom. I would talk to a expert on this subject first before buying beams.

I chose AN Wireless free standing tower due to I wanted no guy wires and no maintenance. I really have seen no need to work on a antenna due to I put Force 12 antenna on the tower . Very solid trouble free design. The tower is also no maintenance worry compared to crank ups from what I can tell.

Each leg  of the tower is grounded. And I use a separate ground for the radio.

73 JIM

« Last Edit: November 30, 2011, 05:08:44 AM by WB3CQM » Logged
N4UM
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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2011, 06:05:04 AM »

I'd go with a decent Log Periodic rather than a Yagi for 5 bands.  Not quite as good as a Yagi in terms of gain and F/B but far less hassle in the long run in terms of maintenance, repair and hassle factor. I went with an 8 element Tennadyne T-8 for just these reasons 10 or 15 years ago and it served me quite well.  As an added bonus the T-8 worked quite well on 6 meters even though it wasn't supposed to! No traps to worry about burning out.  No motors to worry about repairing etc.  The necessity of tower work in a new England winter is definitely something I'd try to avoid.

I'd also seriously look into a tilt over tower rather than a crank up.  Tilt overs are considerably safer and allow you to work on your antenna while standing flat on the ground.  I believe Rohn tilt-overs have recently become available again.  I also recommend Phillystran as a guying material.  More expensive at first but cheaper in the long run. It won't distort your antenna pattern and doesn't need to be broken up with insulators as is the case with steel cable.  Of course it also doesn't rust.  It's very light and easy to work with.  You would need to construct the lower portions of your guys with steel as the Phillystran is subject to abrasion and fire.
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KF5JOT
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« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2011, 08:49:38 AM »

Something else to consider prior to construction getting too far along is going ahead and preplacing wall penetrations and conduit to the basement for your coax and other harness needs. It would be very easy to pop a penetration and either a sweep or a pull box in as the framing goes up. I'd actually do two, with one for coaxes and a second for power or control wires. That way, as exterior and interior finish work is done, there is no need to go back in to install the penetrations. With some clever design thought, it should be possible to almost hide the exterior access point but still have it readily accessable.

As for power to the shack, drop a couple of extra 20 amp circuits in along with a 30 amp capable 220 circuit and you should be pretty well covered. My personal preference is to make the lighting and ceiling fan circuit stand alone. I've lived and worked where they weren't and it's no fun when the room goes completely black.

I'm interested in how it all comes together as your build progresses.

Craig
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WA0CRI
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« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2011, 03:06:18 PM »

I just completed the process you are about to tackle - installed a new TH11 on a newly installed HDX55 tower.  The performance of the TH11 and the crank-up tower are really impressive.  Worked about 190 countries in just 4 months.  Since you will be doing new construction think about the following:
1)  Pick the antenna location ASAP.  Keep in mind the TH11 has a 22 ft turning radius.  Now is the time to clear any trees that will interfer with the rotation or tilting operation. 

2)  The foundation for the HDX55 takes over 7 cu yds of cement (5' x 5' x 7').  My foundation took 10 yds.  Think about how you will get the 36,000 lbs of concrete to the foundation location.  My foundation location was not accessible to the truck and they had to use a Bobcat with two 55 gallon drums on the bucket to haul the concrete (15 trips).  foundation work for the antenna

3)  Pre-install PVC conduit and ground conductors to the foundation location. 

4)  Go to the US Tower website and make sure your chosen rotor will fit in the HDX55  -  they have a table of which rotors fit in each tower.  I used a High Gain Tailtwister.  If you plan to use their DCU-1 controller send me an e-mail(WA0CRI@ARRL.NET) and I will give you some info on how to avoid some problems.

5)  The easy way to install your TH11 on the tower is to install only the first section of each element out from the boom.  Then mount the assembly onto the tilted-over tower and mast.  Install the rest of the element sections on the lower half of the antenna.  Tilt the tower up and rotate 180 degrees, lower the tower and install the rest of the elements. 
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AJ1Y
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« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2011, 05:39:56 PM »

Thanks to all -
WB3CQM - Thanks for the insights into the Force 12.  I think it is quite impressive and may pose less maintenance issues.  When you contrasted the TH11DX and the Steppir, were you alluding to the fact that they may both have maintenance issues but that you would choose the Steppir even though more complex etc?  On the tower, I really do not want to be climbing a tower.  On the tower, it needs to be at least a tilt over - no climbing.

N4UM - I sense a trend in the yagi recommendations away from trap antennas.  I will have a look into the log periodics.  But as you say, the gain and F/B may not be as good as a yagi.  Am I right in thinking that you sacrifice antenna performance for broader frequency range - its a trade off.  Am I right?  I also wonder if there there is any appreciable effect (good or bad) on performance given an antenna height of say 50 to 70 feet on 10 through 20 meters?  I need to have a free standing tower without guys.  I am curious (aside from the obvious downward telecoping) why do you say tilt over is safer than crank up?

Craig - KF5JOT - Connections and conduits are some of the things I am going to do while I am in the US two weeks from now as they are starting framing now.  I wonder if you (or anyone else) has some pictures/suggestions they could share on what they did for conduits, grounds, penetrations.  I have some ideas, but it would be nice if I could see what others had done.  Your point about separating the 110VAC (station versus lights and room power) is good tip - lights are sometimes needed to solve problems!!

WA0CRI
Thanks! I saw one of your posts on your station and some pictures elsewhere of the TH11 and the tower.  I appreciated all the details.  Since you just done much of this work recently, if OK with you, I will send you an email.  Just one question to continue the ongoing yagi - log peiodic - trap no trap discussion - when you chose the TH11DX what tilted you in favor of that knowing it is a trap antenna (and that, you (like I) do not want to be climbing towers during Minnesota or (in my case New England) winters or any other time!! 

VY 73's

Joe
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WA0CRI
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« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2011, 07:27:04 PM »

Joe,
Please e-mail me at WA0CRI@ARRL.NET and I'll give you more details.  But for now to clarify a couple things:

1)  The HDX55 is not only a crank-up, it is also a tilt-over tower.   I'm afraid of heights and there's no way I'm climbing anything more than a step ladder!  I installed my TH11 using only a step ladder via the procedure I described in the above thread.

2)  The six driven elements of the TH11 are a true log periodic dipole array.  There are no traps on any of the driven elements.  The traps are only on the three directors.  In addition, the TH11 has a reflector for 17M and 20M.  I'm overwhelmed by the performance of my TH11.  I've worked almost 190 countries in just 4 months with this antenna.  I run just 150 watts and often get thru DX pileups on the first try.  I couldn't be happier with this antenna.

Doug  - WA0CRI
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AJ1Y
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« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2011, 07:52:19 PM »

Doug -

Thanks for the further info and insights.  I will send you an email.

VY 73's

Joe 
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WB3CQM
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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2011, 06:09:07 PM »

Hi Joe,

You have lots of time to think things over . Seems you have received some very good advice from every one.

Let me suggest a book to buy "Array of Light " by N6BT . In the book he talks about the different trapped and non trapped beams. Also about vertical antenna designs.    He  is the original owner of Force 12 Co. and the book IMHO it is a very good book to read. 

I think  the Steppir is better antenna than the TH-11DX because there is no traps. And you can obtain great swr by touch of a button .  I helped install one a few years back. That ham has had no issues so far and I know pretty much who he works and when . The antenna is a performer. I think the TH-11DX is a improvement over Hygains  TH6- ect family of beams . I am sure you would be happy with the beam, as Doug sure is happy with his.
I maybe a bit critical of those trapped beams due to the test we did years ago with a quad against the A3S and TH6-DX beams.
I never ran test against the TH 11DX, and do not know anything about the beam.

Your spending a lot of money to install a tower and every thing that go's along with it. I would put the most efficient antenna on the tower I could . Do it one time with no regrets . To be honest with you . My installer is one of the best in the business and also contest world . I took John's (W2GD) advice and was not sorry. The Force 12 beam has no traps is wide spaced el on 20 and 15 meter. The elements are all riveted and I do not expect to service the beam ever. But off course ice storms and 150 mph winds could destroy it. I was told by a ham in Texas that they had a ice storm that ever thing was destroyed down there  except his Force 12 beams. Enough said about the construction.

I would agree the motors on the Steppir is the down side and would be my big  worry,that  they would go bad . That is one reason I was talked out of that beam. No regrets there I assure you, I believe the C-31XR runs rings around the 3 el steppir. LoL ?

Also check out the towers and beams at Super Bertha HF Communications. Don't hurt to dream big, you will know what I mean when you look at his towers and line of beams.

I do not climb tower either . I will just call for a pro when I need one. So far in pass two years I have had no reason to climb the tower.

73, JIM

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AJ1Y
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« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2011, 07:11:25 AM »

Hi Jim,

Thanks for the follow up!!  I will see if I can get a copy of N6BT's book when I am back home at Christmas.

In any event, its important to me to get a lot of different opinions on these things.  You are right, it is a lot of money and so it is important to make a well considered decision.  Everyone comes at these issues from a different perspective.  Doug is really happy with his TH-11DX but you are happy with the Force 12.  For me, just getting back into this hobby, I appreciate both of your opinions and they provide me with a lot of food for thought as to which trade offs I want/need to make. 

By the way, did you have W2GD install the entire system? Or, how did you handle the project?  Any other suggestions on the construction project??

Also, I will take alook at the Super Bertha HF stuff.  Thanks!!

Again, thanks for the input and I will keep you posted as I move forward.

73, Joe

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WB3CQM
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« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2011, 12:08:05 PM »

Hi Joe,

I wrote a review of W2GD/P40W  work and the job in eHam Tower Installers . I see it is on page 5 at the moment dated Mar 17,2009 .

I hired a contractor to dig the foundation and set the base. I also hired some one to  help me put the tower together .

John came out one day and worked on building the beams with me and inspect the tower and base. The foundation is 9x5x5 with 18 cubic yards of cement . The tower is a 100 foot free standing tower Reduced to 70 feet .

John came out a day before the raising of the tower and did the prep work and also we worked together to fix a problem with the tower I could not solve. All this prep work took a good solid day.

The big day came and John was in charge of the crane operator and every aspect of the job. I helped where where I could. John installed the tower you could say He did all the antenna installation work. I stayed on the ground.

I had NO help from any ham radio operator for many reasons. I have helped install towers and beams my self so it is not like I was totally in the dark on this project. BUT I wanted this project done by a professional installer. This was way over my head and I needed professional help. John helped with every aspect of it by giving me lots of  advice , right down to coax and coax connectors ect.. To be honest , you can not put a real price on doing things right the first time. I would say he changed my mind on just about every thing I did. Other words it pays to pay attention to a professional that knows more than my self .lol.

I used to be a die hard quad man so people do change their thinking some times . Proof is in that, I am now using yagi beams.

73,JIM
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KG6YV
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« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2011, 03:20:41 PM »

Why not take a look at Hex-Beams....
They can be assembled for up to 6 bands (20-10 and 6M) and offer decent gain with excellent F/B and are a lot lighter
than any 5 band yagi solution.  You will get about the same gain as a log periodic too.  Surprisingly, as I read reviews
here on Eham the hex beam holds up very well in wind and snow too.

Just a thought,

Greg
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AJ1Y
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« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2011, 12:29:45 AM »

Jim and Greg,

Thanks for your posts.  I have been a bit busy on house building issues this weekend and so was not able to post. Greg, I am going to check the Hex Beam solution you suggested.  Jim, I read about John and it seems like guys him a lot of accolades. 

Today, I got a diagram of the location of the house on the lot from my brother.  Looking at the zoning rules, this virtually assures me that I will need to bracket the tower to the house.  I do not want to climb tower.  Crank down is OK as I could probably work from a ladder BUT bracketing to house would limit retractability since the house will too high to lower the tower without the beam hitting the roof?  That is on the two story side but on the garage end of the house, the house bracket would be so low as to maybe be unacceptable to the zoning people (of course, it would be structurally unnecessary - just the zoning rules seem to require it). 
 
If the bracket to garage would be OK, then I could retract and lower to ground parallel to driveway.  Anyway, have you heard or seen of anyone bracketing an HDX 555 to a house?  I wonder if I can have a bracket that I can open and close so that I can easily tilt it over? 

73, Joe
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