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Author Topic: First Tower  (Read 2264 times)
NY0Y
Member

Posts: 18




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« on: August 15, 2012, 11:24:44 AM »

My Lord, so much information needed, some so hard to get.  Or even to get someone to sell you something.

1.  Does anyone know or have experience with tower erection companies 100 miles of Southern Illinois.  (62801).... say between Evansville,  IN and St. Louis, Mo.?

2.  I must not be asking the right questions, because I find getting answers from tower manufacturers to be difficult.  Maybe they think I am just playing around.  But, there is money in the bank.  Example question:  The Mfr. shows 4'square x 8' deep with re-bar.  I asked if I could use a 4' round pit (local cement company digs them), how much deeper would it need to be?  The volume of concrete for a square is 4.4747 yards,  A circular pit 4'x8'  is 3.72 yards.  To get more weight (and leverage), can one not just go deeper, as long as the re-bar goes too?  9' is 4.18 yds, and 10' is  4.65 yards.  No reply after a week.

3.  I guess obfuscation is the name of the game.  Lets say I want to buy a 70' motorized crank up tower.  I look in the website, and there is a price.  But no indication of what is included in the price.  Asking for a detailed breakout has been fruitless.  I think there are other expensive bits required, and I would like to know about them up front.  I would also like to know if there is an extra heavy duty cable option available and cost.  Cannot seem to find out.  The information may be in the website, but I have so far not been able to extricate it.  Surely someone who works for these companies knows?  But no answers.  They probably think the dufus should look at the website.

4.  Is calling in better than trying to communicate by e-mail?

5.  Distance from shack to top of 70' tower is about 155'.  Is hardline worth the extra investment? (No VHF UHF work)

Nuff rant for now...

73

NY0Y
Raleigh
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W9GB
Member

Posts: 2600




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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2012, 12:06:13 PM »

From the questions that you have posted, I have deduced:

1. You have never installed a tower (in that area).
2. Don't seem to understand foundation depth variables of: frost line and soil types in Illinois.
http://www.il.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/soils/soilsofil.html
3. Variances from manufacturer's stated installation requirements can occur,
BUT you have to pay ($$) for the civil engineering with an Illinois PE.

Sounds like you are in the Centraila, IL area .....
 So you are on "border" of depth based on frost lines and soil tables.  

I would have to check, BUT there was a large company in southwest Indiana/southeastern Illinois that was installing towers (up to about 100 feet) and satellite systems.
==
Rohn Tower (Peoria) specs are easy to read and
Order from Hill Radio (Bloomington, IL) for drop ship.

ASK at the regional/ local Motorola/MaCom/GE Land Mobile dealers .... They know the local tower climbers and installers in your area.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 12:27:39 PM by W9GB » Logged
K5KNE
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Posts: 65




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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2012, 09:53:37 PM »

The concrete does not have to be a perfect cube shape, but it does need to be deep enough and keyed into the surrounding soil and rock to keep it from moving.  The soil conditions are important when deciding on the best foundation - so get some advice.

What kind of tower are you planning on buying?  My tower is a Heights and is 80' with a gearmotor to lay it over parallel with the ground and about 4' off the ground. It is really nice and you won't have to climb any to work on your antennas or coax.

I opted for a 48" drilled shaft 10' deep with a rebar cage and anchor bolts for the foldover base. This is dug by a driller for bridge columns.  It has about 5 CY of concrete and quite a bit of steel. My soil is very shallow then it goes to rock and shale after about 2' down.

The whole project cost about $10,000 - 12 years ago.  Check out Heights Towers on internet.

Walter  K5KNE   Civil Engineer
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KC4MOP
Member

Posts: 729




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« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2012, 04:38:26 AM »

K5KNE may have given you some help and another starting point. Erecting a tall tower like that gets into PE's and variances and checking local codes. And K5KNE's link may be the answer to someone who will do it from start to finish, you talk with the company about the tower you have in mind and the "tower contractor" will take it from there. The purchased tower will have specific instructions to what type of hole and how deep it needs to be. The local PE or contractor will do the leg work on your local soil conditions and frost line info.
I don't want to be a smartass, but if you have the funds, good for you!!! Involve a professional to do it right.
Grounding the tower will get very important, and you want to get the contractor to understand that part of it too.
If you are just using HF frequencies then buy a good quality cable that can be buried. Davis RF has very nice flexible cable that can be buried. 6M will require a lot better cable with less losses, though. dB's loss per 100 feet gets serious for 6M.
I'm assuming you are gong with an HF Yagi? With that nice 70 footer, get a big one!!

EDIT:::: I re-read your specs on distance from shack to tower and I guess that hardline might be a good investment. But if the antenna is resonant on all bands you are using , then someone else here might want to advise differently. Non-resonant antennas will cause serious losses in the coax on certain bands and you have a lot of feet between the shack and antenna.

fred
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 04:42:07 AM by KC4MOP » Logged
NY0Y
Member

Posts: 18




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« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2012, 08:25:27 AM »

Thanks for all the help folks...  Yes, I am near the edge of Clinton County in Illinois, on the edge of a corn field.  I have contacted the local zoning and construction permit folks and they have told me the there are no permits required!  Maybe my insurance company will want a PE involved.  I will ask them.

As to antenna plans, it seems that if you want everything from 7-29 Mhz, it is going to cost around $5000.00  I have tried lots of ways to skin that cat, and in the end that number or something close keeps coming up, plus the rotator to turn it.  It looks like SteppIR is the antenna of choice, and is right in that price range.  I have no plans for 6M at the moment.  I would prefer not to have to worry about stacking two large Yagis.

I have room to lay over a Heights tower.  And I have space to do a Tashjian crank up tilt over.  I see little cost advantage to either.  The least expensive seems to be (predictably) a permanent stick which has to be climbed periodically.  (That might let SteppIr out since climbers are scarce apparently.)

Feedline choice is impacted by tower type.  If heights, then I can fold it over and have a short section of 213(or similar) connecting hardline to top then 213 again and same to shack.  If it cranks up, then hardline only the 80 feet or so the the shack and 213 or something like it to the top.  It has to be able to withstand bending as the tower goes up and down.

And yes, I am a total novice in this area, and would love to find someone who would hold my hand through the process.  Is proving to be easier said than done.

73

NY0Y
Raleigh
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WB2WIK
Member

Posts: 20547




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« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2012, 09:26:05 AM »

My Lord, so much information needed, some so hard to get.  Or even to get someone to sell you something.

1.  Does anyone know or have experience with tower erection companies 100 miles of Southern Illinois.  (62801).... say between Evansville,  IN and St. Louis, Mo.?

You might try A&W Communications Inc.: http://www.aw-comm.com/

Quote
2.  I must not be asking the right questions, because I find getting answers from tower manufacturers to be difficult.  Maybe they think I am just playing around.  But, there is money in the bank.  Example question:  The Mfr. shows 4'square x 8' deep with re-bar.  I asked if I could use a 4' round pit (local cement company digs them), how much deeper would it need to be?  The volume of concrete for a square is 4.4747 yards,  A circular pit 4'x8'  is 3.72 yards.  To get more weight (and leverage), can one not just go deeper, as long as the re-bar goes too?  9' is 4.18 yds, and 10' is  4.65 yards.  No reply after a week.

I've installed a lot of towers and am always reluctant to deviate from the manufacturer's recommendations, but then I've always had to get a permit and the inspectors who review building permit applications and construction don't like deviations.  Without a permit, you have more latitude of course.

Quote
3.  I guess obfuscation is the name of the game.  Lets say I want to buy a 70' motorized crank up tower.  I look in the website, and there is a price.  But no indication of what is included in the price.  Asking for a detailed breakout has been fruitless.  I think there are other expensive bits required, and I would like to know about them up front.  I would also like to know if there is an extra heavy duty cable option available and cost.  Cannot seem to find out.  The information may be in the website, but I have so far not been able to extricate it.  Surely someone who works for these companies knows?  But no answers.  They probably think the dufus should look at the website.

If you're looking at the U.S. Tower TX-472MDP (example), that model comes with a motor drive, positive retraction cabling, and the base hardware (anchor bolts and T-plate) which provides for tilting, but no tilting fixtures or accessories.  It's really intended to be tilted up once when you install it, and down once when you remove it, and IMO it would be silly to add the cost and complexity of a crank-over feature since it can retract to about 22' or so anyway.  Many times, if you install it next to a house you can retract the tower low enough to work on the rotator or antenna while standing on the roof (if you're lucky and have a tall enough house). Wink  The HDX-572MDPL is heavier duty and might be more appropriate for a large SteppIR that includes 40m.  It comes with all the same stuff, and I believe also includes limit switches so you can telescope or retract the tower remotely if you wish.  Of course I don't know if these are what you were looking at...

Quote
4.  Is calling in better than trying to communicate by e-mail?

Absolutely!

Quote
5.  Distance from shack to top of 70' tower is about 155'.  Is hardline worth the extra investment? (No VHF UHF work)

It's up to you, but for that distance I prefer something like RG-217/U, run from the shack all the way up the tower, around the rotator, and to the antenna.  It has loss similar to hardline but is tougher and flexible enough to withstand retraction and rotation.  It's not cheap, but I get it surplus and then it is. Smiley

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W9GB
Member

Posts: 2600




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« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2012, 10:06:51 AM »

Raleigh --

Check with these companies.  
They may only do residential TV and satellite, you would have to ask.

Craig Antenna Service
180 Us Highway 51, Pana, IL 62557
(217) 562-4133

Complete Communications
1 Buckingham Rd, Belleville, IL 62220
(618) 236-0646

Southern Illinois Antennas
5808 Haverkamp Rd, Metropolis, IL 62960
(618) 564-2481

IF you are going to the Peoria hamfest, then swing by Tripoli, IL (west of Peoria on IL 116)
to see the K9CT contest station.  
http://www.thompsonet.com/k9ctcontest/
SteppIR DB42 installed and multiple towers.
An hour or two there, will answer majority of your questions, AND you will have new questions.

You can ask Craig who he used for foundation, antenna crew/tower service (may all be Peoria based).

About everything you would ever consider is installed at K9CT
http://www.k9ct.us/antennas/layout.html
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 10:18:47 AM by W9GB » Logged
N9JZN
Member

Posts: 5




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« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2012, 11:38:37 AM »

Raleigh,
Drop me an email and I think I can help you out.
n9jzn@yahoo.com
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KC4MOP
Member

Posts: 729




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« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2012, 03:45:57 AM »

K9CT WOW!! I would think that something like that must be partially funded by the amateur radio equipment manufacturers. There must be close to a million dollars there!!
He outdoes another contester station off of Route 80W near the border of Pa. The Ham there is a CEO of a major Cellular network and an RF engineer.

Good thing you are just dealing with one tower. I wonder about the SteppIR antennas and reliability. It's all motors and moving elements.
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W8JI
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Posts: 9304


WWW

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« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2012, 05:54:43 AM »

2.  I must not be asking the right questions, because I find getting answers from tower manufacturers to be difficult.  Maybe they think I am just playing around.  But, there is money in the bank.  Example question:  The Mfr. shows 4'square x 8' deep with re-bar.  I asked if I could use a 4' round pit (local cement company digs them), how much deeper would it need to be?  The volume of concrete for a square is 4.4747 yards,  A circular pit 4'x8'  is 3.72 yards.  To get more weight (and leverage), can one not just go deeper, as long as the re-bar goes too?  9' is 4.18 yds, and 10' is  4.65 yards.  No reply after a week.

You are going to have a tough time getting a manufacturer or supplier to do engineering work for you. There isn't any way they could afford that type of service for the small amount they make on a sale.

Since you are an area without inspection or zoning, do what you or someone you trust tells you to do, or do what the manufacturer says to do. It isn't reasonable to ask the supplier to custom engineer.


Quote
3.  I guess obfuscation is the name of the game.  Lets say I want to buy a 70' motorized crank up tower.  I look in the website, and there is a price.  But no indication of what is included in the price.  Asking for a detailed breakout has been fruitless.  I think there are other expensive bits required, and I would like to know about them up front.  I would also like to know if there is an extra heavy duty cable option available and cost.  Cannot seem to find out.  The information may be in the website, but I have so far not been able to extricate it.  Surely someone who works for these companies knows?  But no answers.  They probably think the dufus should look at the website.

They should supply a complete list of what you get for the money, but it is NOT their job to tell you everything you need for your particular installation. There are far too many variables in installations to have a turn-key list of everything needed.


Quote
4.  Is calling in better than trying to communicate by e-mail?

e-mail is a pain in the a$$ for complex problems or back and forth stuff. It is a time sink. It is the electronic equivalent of writing letters. I used to cringe at all the letters asking questions that were answered in Handbooks, pamphlets, and manuals. Each relatively simple Q and A letter, in the 1980's, would cost about $15-30 to answer, and there would be a half dozen or more a day. emails are no different.


Quote
5.  Distance from shack to top of 70' tower is about 155'.  Is hardline worth the extra investment? (No VHF UHF work)

Look at cable loss tables, or spec's on cables, and decide. Just be sure you consider life. Any cables I have underground are hardline. I have very few hardline cables UP towers, except for VHF or UHF, or where the tower is hundreds of feet tall. The biggest HF concern I have is cable life when buried, and hardline like Heliax lasts forever.

Quote
As to antenna plans, it seems that if you want everything from 7-29 Mhz, it is going to cost around $5000.00  I have tried lots of ways to skin that cat, and in the end that number or something close keeps coming up, plus the rotator to turn it.  It looks like SteppIR is the antenna of choice, and is right in that price range.  I have no plans for 6M at the moment.  I would prefer not to have to worry about stacking two large Yagis.

Everything is a compromise. The SteppIR trades use of multiple antennas for mechanical and electrical complexity. You have one antenna, but it has copper tapes, motors, cables, a complex controller, and lots of electrical connections as a compromise.

I have a buddy who changes antennas like I change socks. He had reliability problems with his StepIR's, but then his system isn't a good standard.  He relies on free Ham labor, and often has some really messed-up (there is an even better word I'm sure) mechanical and electrical work. He spends $5000 on an ANTENNA, not the whole tower, and at the same time is such a cheapskate he has a buddy who knows nothing about guylines and guyline installation do his guylines. The guys were a mess, and they were on a $10,000 or more investment. I have no idea how neat they were with wiring or assembly on the SteppIR, but I would look into failure life of complex systems like that...especially around lightning.

I took down a 100-foot tower supposedly installed by "the best tower man in Mississippi", and it was the worse installation ever. Even the anchors were in the ground wrong!!!   

I'd spend some time talking to people who have had systems for years, especially people who do good work, and make sure the work quality was good.

You can do a cheaper system if YOU know mechanics and know what is right or wrong. If you are not comfortable in great detail with how things work, get a professional that is a real professional.

73 Tom
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N2MG
Administrator

Posts: 122



« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2012, 07:18:32 AM »

The Mfr. shows 4'square x 8' deep with re-bar.  I asked if I could use a 4' round pit (local cement company digs them), how much deeper would it need to be?  The volume of concrete for a square is 4.4747 yards,  A circular pit 4'x8'  is 3.72 yards.  To get more weight (and leverage), can one not just go deeper, as long as the re-bar goes too?  9' is 4.18 yds, and 10' is  4.65 yards.  No reply after a week.

Tom's right about this - it's an engineering question.  For ex., with regard to guyed towers, Rohn supplies "sample" guying layouts in their catalogs (or at least used to) but (nearly) everyone wants to know "what if"? (what if I use more guys, what if I have a larger or smaller anchor radius, what if I have elevated guys, what if my soil is different, what if my ground is sloped, etc.)  No way is Rohn or any other manufacturer going to "bless" anything you install.

In your case, for example, you seemed concerned about the "leverage".  Deeper IS almost always better for the leverage issue (assuming homogeneous soil as you descend), but generally, "deeper" costs more than "bigger" so it's not usually presented as an option.  But it seems in your case, you *can* go deeper without much trouble. (A perfect example of the variability of any given installation).

But the surface area of the base is important as well.  The entire dead weight of the tower (and guys pulling on them - if you had guys) need to be supported by the soil and the soil can pretty much only push straight up on that weight. The depth, per se, doesn't matter, but the surface area of the base and the soil characteristics at the depth do. A four-foot square is 16 sq feet and a four-foot circle only about 12.5 sq feet. Does a 20% decrease matter?  Can't say. ;-)

-Mike N2MG
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KF7CG
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Posts: 815




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« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2012, 10:14:06 AM »

Can the cement company do 5 foot diameter round pits as easily as 4 foot. If so, use 5 foot round and recommended depth will be plenty strong enough. 19.5 approximate squre feet of area. 4 feet seven inches would give you an almost perfect match for area and hence cu. ft. if original depth kept.

KF7CG
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K3GM
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Posts: 1767




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« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2012, 11:59:35 AM »

If by "hardline" you mean Heliax, there's no reason why you can't run Heliax out to the tower, then transition to conventional coax.  I run all Heliax, and use Superflex where required for rotator loops.  If you purchase it second hand, it's typically runs around the same per foot as new RG-213.  If you're going to sink 10-15K into a tower with antenna, get the best, most long lasting transmission line to go with it.
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20547




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« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2012, 02:44:20 PM »

Since the OP discussed a telescoping (crank-up or motorized) tower, I think hard line or Heliax is a pretty bad idea: Not very compatible with any kind of semi-rigid cable.

For HF, rather than running hard line to the base of a tower then flex line up it, unless the run is very long I'd just use flex cable for the whole run.  My choice is "usually" RG-217/U because it's flexible enough to run up a telescoping tower but has loss about the same as 1/2" hard line.  Good compromise.  Also readily available as new unused surplus. Wink
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