Sunday, 25 September 2016

Tower Up

My last post described my bat dilemma.  Since then the bat guy did his thing by sealing up all the openings in my soffit/roof line/windows with clear caulking and installing an exit tube for the bats to leave but not re-enter.  A few weeks later I was at home during a weekday working on the TV tower I was planning to put up for my 2M antenna, a TV antenna and as an anchor point for my fan dipole for HF.  I got it used for $50 and was quite pleased with that.  I had taken the rust off one of the sections and had painted all 4 sections.  I had 3 sections connected as that would take me up to the 2nd floor facia so I could attach it to the house.  I was trying to figure out how to get it up there on my own when I don't even own an extension ladder and my metal roof is extremely slippery.  Just then bat guy showed up to remove the bat tube and touch up the caulking.  He said to put the 4th section on and he'd help me walk the tower up.  I said 4 sections is extremely heavy but he insisted.  He went about his business with the house while I attached the top section to the tower on the ground.  When he was ready I said "Are you sure?  It's very heavy!".  He said "I work with 40 ' ladders all the time.  It'll be no problem."  I said Ok and got to the base to hold it in place.  He picked up the tower at the top section and walked it up.  I could see in his face that it was heavier than he expected but he powered through and got it up.  I was super pleased.  Then he put his ladder up to the facia and attached one of the brackets and the U-bolts finger tight.  This held the tower in place and I took care of the rest of the tightening and adding the second bracket.  I could not have been happier.

Now that I had my tower up and bolted to the house I had to think of how I would get the antennas installed.   I had gone up to the top of the tower and it was quite high but the height is not what worried me.  What worried me was the unsteadiness of the tower.  The problem with a used tower is that the bolt holes where the sections join get stretched over time so the tower is not as rigid as it should be.  I could stand on the ground and move the tower with my hands even though it was anchored and bolted to the facia.  I needed more support.  After speaking with another, more experienced, ham, VA3RDC, I knew what I needed to do to support the tower.  I got three 32" pieces of angle steel from Home Depot and lag bolted one to the wall of the house as an anchor.  Then I U-bolted the other 2 pieces to either side tower legs and attached the end of each of them to the anchor piece.  The tower was now rock solid.  Time to install the antennas.

I had the mounting pole (EMT) with 2 antennas on it and my plan had been to raise it up and install it as one unit.  I had the TV antenna pointed the correct directions (2 bays) and I had my 2M 5-element beam pointed, hopefully, to the repeater in the city 70km away.  This pole didn't seem too heavy on the ground until you try and raise it over your head as I would have to do to insert it into the top of the tower.  This was going to be a challenge.  I got my harness and climbed to the top to test how this was going to work as I would need 2 free hands to install this pole.  Figuring I had no other choice I contacted a local power pole company that has bucket trucks.  Since it was a Sunday I left them a message on their website.  Thinking about the task at hand some more I realized that I really just needed to take the antennas off the pole and attach them afterwards.  I did this and the pole installation was super easy.  I installed it with just 2 feet showing above the top of the tower.  I then raised up the TV antenna and installed it which was pretty easy since it attaches with wingnuts and the brackets are easily hooked in place with 1 hand.  We tested the reception with the TV and made some final adjustments on the pointing of it.   I then raised the pole another few feet so I could install my 2M beam.  Again installation was quite easy with wingnuts and clamps easily manipulated with one hand.  I was a bit concerned that I wouldn't be able to key the repeater from this far away with only 50W but when I tested it the repeater came to life on the first try.  I guess my compass pointing was pretty good.  From 70km away it doesn't take much of a move of the antenna to be off target.

Now all that's left is to install the pulley on the tower where I'm going to feed the rope for one end of my fan dipole from.  I may, now that I have the real estate, try an inverted L or something like that for 80M or 160M.  It's time to get that done now before it gets too cold.

Cheers es 72

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