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Summary: Tower Communications

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Subject: Summary: Tower Communications
From: (Richard L. King)
Date: Fri, 27 Sep 1996 18:23:25 -0500
Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to my question, "what do you
use for tower-to-ground communications?"

The consensus of opinion is that the 49 MHz units work pretty well for the
purpose. However, in dense urban areas, they may pick up a lot of unwanted
signals from neighborhood cordless telephones, baby monitors, etc. 

Of the responses I got, 13 said they had used the Maxon 49 MHz units, four
said they used the Radio Shack 49 MHz units, and one used 49 MHz units made
by Standard. Two respondents said we should take advantage of hamfests and
fleamarkets to buy and use cheap, used 2 meter FM amateur HTs or
transceivers for the tower to tractor communications.

Below is my original post to the reflector followed by the responses.


Susan (KU2Q) and I are able to pull up and and install Rohn 45G sections
with just the two of us. We do this using a tractor and a block and tackle.
With me guiding from the top of the tower, Susan backs the tractor up which
pulls the tower section to within 10 foot of the gin pole. Then she stops,
gets off the tractor, and by pulling the block and tackle arrangement can
easily pull the tower section the rest of the way up and lower it into place
while I guide it onto the tower top.

We have worked out some elaborate hand signals for stopping, starting, etc.
However, as the tower gets higher we think we need better communications
between the ground(tractor) and the top of the tower. Since we don't have
two amateur HTs available, we are looking for something else to use.

In the AES catalog I found the Maxon Personal Communicators advertised in
the 40 to 50 dollar range. They work on 49 MHz and have vox and a choice of
headset model or earpiece-microphone model. We are thinking about buying two
of these.

What do other people use for tower-top to ground communications? What works
well and what doesn't work well for you? Is anyone else using the Maxon
radios? What do you think about them?

If there is enough interest, I will summarize the responses. Thanks.

73, Richard



        we use the Maxon units out at NK7U.  They work great!  If you
have more people then headsets it is hard for the other people to hear
what is going on, however.  But, it usually works out okay as the
guy on the ground (with the headset) can easily communicate with the
other guys on the ground.  It sounds like they would work out
great for your situation.

They are the 1 channel units with the boom-mike headset.  Not sure
what the earpiece units look like.  The headsets work pretty good, but
sometimes may not fit very well under your hat or hardhat.  Maybe
the earpiece one would work better for use with a hardhat.

Also, the guy on the tower usually has his unit in vox mode (hands
are usually to full to push the button).  While the guy on the ground
has his unit in ptt mode.  This prevents the guy on the tower getting
blasted when the guy on the ground yells out commands to the other
ground crew guys.

Anyhow, they work great.  Usually no problem hearing one another even
if a 4 wheeler is running.  Range on them is suppossed to be about a 
1/4 mile.  So you shouldn't have a problem unless you have a monster 
tower!  I have used the Maxon units for motorcycle communicators and 
they work well out to a block or two.

Jim...  AB7CZ


>From WD8RIN:

Richard, I have a friend that bought a pair of these so he and his wife
could keep in touch at times. He said they are great, you also get to listen
to cordless phones, baby room monitors and anybody else on 49mc. But, they
did what they were supposed to do.  Bill


>From NJ2L:


Glad you and Susan are making progress on towers!

I've found that the VOX headsets don't work well in windy weather--the 
VOX trips from wind noise in the unit that's up on the tower. Also, when 
we tried using these for tower maintenance at W1AW, when I was up the 
tower I could hear a whole bunch of baby monitors and intercoms DFQ, but 
not the boys on the ground! What a pain. They could hear me fine, but it 
didn't work in the other direction. If I have a reasonably accurate 
mental picture of your new place, you shouldn't have that problem!

Looking forward to working you. I've gotten my 105-foot rotating tower up 
this summer, with a tribander at the top and a 40-meter Cushcraft about 
ready to haul up (plus the usual VHF/UHF/SHF arrays). It's far from all 
done, but it should play well in the contests this fall. Can't wait!

Good luck and see you on the bands.

--Very 73, Rus


Dan Cisson wrote:

AM,OR FM.....73 DAN

>From AA8U:

I have used these with good success over the years. There are numerous 49
meg personal comm units available. Some have headsets with vox which can be
an advantage at times, keeps your hands free. It also beats trying to shout
down. The neighbors usually hear you better than your ground crew. hi


I've used them once.  They should work OK as long as you arent in a highly urban
area, otherwise you may have interference problems.  The also are built about
as rugged as a cheap walkman, so they are fairly fragile.  However, you cant
argue about the cost, and VOX is a big help on the tower.

The next step up would cost you several hundred dollars!

73, Tyler KF3P


>From KY1H:

hi richard... i use the radio shack wireless headsets with vox.  they
are 49mhz also and have plenty of range plus adjustable vox.


>From W4MPY:

I use a pair of Radio Shack units...think they cost about $35 each
they have a boom mike and work either vox or ptt.  Not familiar
with the other units.  Nice thing about radio shack is they are
like "Chicken-man"   They're everywhere, they're everywhere!!
73, Wayne and bunch


I have used them for years before the YL became N4XZC and they are great. 

Have Fun and B safe, Larry, K4LLQ


>From KG5U:

It seems to me that either at NA5R/K5RC or at NR5M similar devices were 
put to good use.  The typical procedure was for one person on the tower and
one person on the ground to be 'wired'.  Everyone else in their respective 
elevations took their cues from the 'wired' one.

Good luck,


>From W5ASP:


We have a set of Maxon units at the Lumberyard which we have used
successfully for years. They are light wt., clear audio and easy to use. The
only drawback is the wind noise at times can get a bit ruff.


>From WQ5G:

I know some guys who use them for deer hunting, and they were happy with 
them... I think they were Maxons but I'm not sure. ANYTHING should
ork for tower to gnd - my kids have some fisher-price walikes thaT
would probably work fine and are cheap - they don't have headsets tho, (no
provision for external mike either darn it)


>From AA4NC:


I have a set of those 49 Mhz VOX walkies, and they work pretty well for tower
work. They are made by Standard, but I think the Maxons are about the same.
The headsets are cheap and cheesy, but will stay on your headif you wear a
cap over them. They have two switch settable squelch settings, which can
cause noise if you need something more due to wind. All in all, they're worth
the money IMHO...


AA4 Not Changing


We have used Maxons at NK7U's for many years and have put up a number of 
200 towers with just a couple of people using them to communicate.


>From K1JKS:

Why not get those rat shack CB headsets.  Thats what superstud
KC1XX raves about,  they're on sale for 35 or 40 bucks, and when you
break em, just take em back for exchange.


Hi Richard.. go for it . We use maxon 49mhz head set's at W3GM's qth for
He has 10 acres that is overgrow with ground cover. He was an advid bird
You could not see a guy 10ft to your right or left off the paths.. the head
sets were a
God sent when doing ant work....  One funny side note GM's qth is on a high
hill overlooking  a small comunity to the west.. one Sat while redoing  the
10mtr  tower two young ladys broke in on the freq with there portable phones
and poor Gerry he never in his 80's years overheard shuch a candid
conversation about there dates on Friday night......
                           73' Wayne KY3N
ps I assume that why people buy 800mhz scanners !!! 


That's what we use at NK7U. There is no other way to communicate with
Joe when he is on top of 180' of AB105 playing with his 80M beam. At
that height with any wind at all you can't hear the tower guy from the
ground and vice/versa.



Richard, we have used Radio Shack 49MHZ headset type walkie talkies
hear.  Vox operated and cheap --abt $60 a pair!  Designed as toys for
kids work pretty good  obviously you can get interference but if you
drop it the checkbook will survive.
Scotty Neustadter, N4PYD                  Internet:   


We always use amateur HTs.  Even if you don't have two, maybe you have 
one, so you're halfway there.  You don't need the $500 duoband model, an 
IC-2AT will do it.  I sold a nice one for $90 at a recent hamfest and 
I'll bet they can be had for even less.

73 - Rich Boyd, KE3Q


  I think you'd be better off going to a ham fest, and finding an old model
2 m radio (in $100 range, the price of two 49 mhz radio's).   The 49
mhz radio is open to everyone.  Just the time you're in a critical spot some
time, John Q Public will come down the road talking with his girl
friend in the next car, and destroy your comm link.  If you're using a
tractor, there should be a 12v battery on it.   Hook up your 2m mobile, a
1/4 wave homemade ant, and an external speaker plugged into the mobile
radio.  You'll be much better off.  Get down below 144.5 (preferably
above 144.2, but legally above 144.1), and you should have an
interference free channel.  You'll find you have a lot of other uses for
the spare radio also.
       73   de    Stephen, K0SD  in   NC



73, Richard

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