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Author Topic: My First Tower  (Read 473 times)
WC6Y
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Posts: 7




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« on: June 14, 2019, 02:56:40 PM »

I'm am considering putting up a tower to support a yagi for HF DX. I'm looking for some experienced folk, ideally local to the Santa Cruz, CA area, who can help me not make mistakes, or even assess whether this is a good idea or not given my location, a wooded lot with one clearing. XYL says OK, so long as its in the "back 40" where she can't see it. Insights re County of Santa Cruz permitting, neighbor strategies, soils assessment, self-standing crank-up vs fixed guyed, etc. Currently using Flex 6600 & Maestro and a pair of MyAntennas EFHW 8010, one up 100' and closing in on CW DXCC via LoTW. Reading "Up the Tower."

Thanks in advance,
Ken WC6Y
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K0UA
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« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2019, 03:28:07 PM »

Took down a 50 footer  rohn 25G tower yesterday with a homemade heck for stout tilt base. A tilt base is something to consider. You will still need guy wires but it can make maintenance much easier. my 40 foot at home is on a tilt base. No climbing looks better to me all the time as I age.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2019, 03:41:01 PM »

Took down a 50 footer  rohn 25G tower yesterday with a homemade heck for stout tilt base. A tilt base is something to consider. You will still need guy wires but it can make maintenance much easier. my 40 foot at home is on a tilt base. No climbing looks better to me all the time as I age.
I second that! At 75 I am so glad that I put in a Rohn tilt-over 32 years ago. At the time climbing a 60 foot tower was no big deal but it's pretty much out of the question today. Of course if you can afford to hire a contractor to do the climbing then it doesn't matter.
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Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA
WC6Y
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« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2019, 03:49:23 PM »

Thanks. The clearing I have is roughly 55' in diameter, which seems barely big enough (or not?) to hold the SteppIR DB-18e I've been ogling. I'm 67, but still get to the climbing gym periodically. Used to climb 11A, but now down to 10C (or so). It does seem backwards that while many my age are dismantling towers, I'm thinking of installing one. Maintenance (which is probably a lot more for the SteppIR's) would seem to be an issue. Might have to have a contractor available ...
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WA7PRC
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« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2019, 03:58:57 PM »

After 40 years, I decided it was [past] time to erect a tower + bigly HF Yagi. The first thing I did was purchase Steve Morris K7LXC's fine book, "UP THE TOWER: The Complete Guide To Tower Construction" (link). It answered most of my questions (and some questions I didn't know I had). The important things I got from it:
 1) Try to comply with all zoning & permitting requirements.
 2) Do what the manufacturers (or your PE) say.
 3) Don't do anything the manufacturers (or your PE) don't say.

The only question not addressed was about personal liability. My insurance agent stated it would be 'automagically' covered if the installation met all zoning & permitting requirements.

I wanted directivity & gain on 40m-up. A good minimum height is λ/2 (≥ 65' on 40m). I never want to climb it, and don't want to deal with guy wires. Those criteria set the physical requirements. I found a Force12 C-4XL Yagi that gave me 40/20/15/10m on a 30' boom, and a US Tower TX-472 w/ tilt fixture that gave me enough tower. The tower came from inland SoCal where rust mostly doesn't happen. That's important, if you're looking at a used tower as I was. You don't want something that's mostly used up before you erect it.

Another good resource is the very active TowerTalk email reflector (http://www.contesting.com/FAQ/towertalk), created and moderated by K7LXC. And, K7LXC has some useful info on his website: http://www.championradio.com/tech.notes.html

vy 73,
Bryan WA7PRC
http://www.tinyurl.com/wa7prc-tower
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WC6Y
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« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2019, 04:25:00 PM »

Thank you Brian. Seems we have similar outlooks (a) gain & directivity 40m & up, b) up at least 65', & c) past time to be using a directional antenna. Agree re Up the Tower - great book. Will probably buy new items, don't want to invite any more difficulties. Thank you for the valuable links!
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KL7CW
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« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2019, 04:47:17 PM »

Ken,
    Nothing crazy about wanting a tower.  If you have the proper fall arrest climbing harness and are comfortable at heights at your age, go for it.  I am 78 and still climbing, and am even doing more projects on the tower.  A friend was still doing his own tower work when he was around 80.  RE:STEPPIR antenna.  I put up my own STEPPIR in about 2004.  Still no trouble except I found out the original mast to boom plate and hardware was just not up to our Alaskan winds, so got an upgraded better one from STEPPIR.  Also my rotator just would not clamp my mast tightly enough so pinned it a few years ago and all is still well. Do some serious research on STEPPIR since I keep hearing they are not reliable.  Do not know if this was just on some of the earlier models, or if it is just another urban myth. If your tower is not too tall, you may be able to rent a bucket truck to work on a Yagi without taking it down. 
        Good luck, and as stated do it right.  Proper guy tension with a gauge, etc. recommended, etc.
                 Rick  KL7CW
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WA7PRC
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« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2019, 08:42:15 PM »

When I set about to get started, K7LXC's book strongly suggested I inquire with my zoning & permitting authority to learn what is required/allowed. In MY case, I was told:

  1) an "antenna support structure" exceeding 35 feet tall and not part of an existing permitted structure must have its own permit.
  2) "wet-stamped" structural drawings for MY project must be furnished by a PE licensed in my state. They would not accept photocopied generic drawings from the tower manufacture.
  3) A plot plan drawing was required, showing no part of the tower + antenna would extend past any property line. I supplied that, using Visio:

(click for bigly image)

YMMV. Your next step should be to contact your city/county permitting/zoning people. Smiley

vy 73,
Bryan WA7PRC
http://www.tinyurl.com/wa7prc-tower
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K6AER
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« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2019, 08:44:37 PM »

Ken,
    Nothing crazy about wanting a tower.  If you have the proper fall arrest climbing harness and are comfortable at heights at your age, go for it.  I am 78 and still climbing, and am even doing more projects on the tower.  A friend was still doing his own tower work when he was around 80.  RE:STEPPIR antenna.  I put up my own STEPPIR in about 2004.  Still no trouble except I found out the original mast to boom plate and hardware was just not up to our Alaskan winds, so got an upgraded better one from STEPPIR.  Also my rotator just would not clamp my mast tightly enough so pinned it a few years ago and all is still well. Do some serious research on STEPPIR since I keep hearing they are not reliable.  Do not know if this was just on some of the earlier models, or if it is just another urban myth. If your tower is not too tall, you may be able to rent a bucket truck to work on a Yagi without taking it down. 


        Good luck, and as stated do it right.  Proper guy tension with a gauge, etc. recommended, etc.
                 Rick  KL7CW


I use to do a lot of warenty work for Mike at SteppIR in the Rocky Mountain areas. Most of the problems with the antenna design were owner caused. Not all hams should have access to hand tools.
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WC6Y
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« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2019, 09:55:12 AM »

Thanks all for your insights. Rick, thanks for the encouragement/insights re tower climbing. Will definitely research the antenna before purchase. *Much* easier to avoid problems than to try and solve them 50' in the air ... Bryan, re permitting - this is where the majority of my trepidation lies - that and "squeaky wheel" neighbors. This is why I'd like to find local hams who may be familiar with the regs and personalities in the Santa Cruz county planning department.

"Not all hams should have access to hand tools .." Lol!
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WA7PRC
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« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2019, 03:45:17 PM »

Bryan, re permitting - this is where the majority of my trepidation lies - that and "squeaky wheel" neighbors. This is why I'd like to find local hams who may be familiar with the regs and personalities in the Santa Cruz county planning department.

"Not all hams should have access to hand tools .." Lol!
I can't help w/ anything specific to your zoning/permitting people. However, in his book, K7LXC recommends to go into the process w/ an open mind.

When I met with my assigned county permit people, one was a ham. She stated that they were very excited, as she couldn't recall in her 12 years a single permit request for a ham tower. My county has ≈2K hams, and that scared me. When I mentioned my project, some local hams suggested I just erect it and, when confronted by the "permit police", just act ignorant. When I asked who would pay my fines and other costs, the silence was deafening.  Wink
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GREYLINE
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« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2019, 01:52:48 PM »

For the past 20 yrs I wanted to put up a tower of my very own. I was always on the fence about getting a permit or just putting the thing up and praying. There were a few towers in my area that I know for a fact they didn't get a permit. I read Antenna Zoning for the Radio Amateur by K1VR and read the horror stories about dealing with the city. I never had the money to hire an attorney to fight the good fight nor did I have the knowledge or confidence to go through the public hearing process myself. I was leaning towards just putting the tower up and hoping for the best. However, since installing a tower was going to be a huge expense I wanted to at least start off doing it the right way. I went down to the planning office with a photo of a Ham tower and told them my plan. The lady at the desk said that Ham antennas were exempt. WHAT?? I couldn't believe what I just heard. I told here that this is not a TV antenna, it's much bigger. She reconfirmed that they were exempt but I will need to check with the cities engineer dept. because you might still need a permit. I spent a few hundred bucks on stamped engineers plans from Tashjian Towers for an LM-470, and a few weeks later... BAM! I had the permit in hand. I wish I had done this 20 yrs ago but oh well. I'm on my way now. 
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