It's completely practical. Comparative cost depends on your ready
availability of cheap or free poles versus cheap or free tower sections, and
cheap or free installation.
First, telephones poles are completely acceptable, in that height range, or
any height range that you can acquire sound poles (available taller on the
West Coast U.S. than on the East Coast) and used to be much more common for
hams than they are today -- back in the days when commercial towers were not
so widely available but poles were.
Telrex used to sell, for $175 apiece the last I knew, a "telephone pole
lash-up," of which I have several, "bought new" from them, that are steel
angle formed into L-shapes, then with "all-thread," threaded rod, with
washers and nuts, to hold the assembly together, bolted through a pole and a
couple steel plates to form a rotator shelf and thrust bearing "shelf."
These can be quite strong, I believe. Old Telrex literature should give
their opinion on what they can hold. But, I recall their brochures showed a
drawing of that setup holding a "Christmas tree" of 20/15/10 3-element
yagis, something like that. So, telephone poles will definitely work and
are pretty (very?) sturdy. I've never heard of one snapping off in high
winds from all the antenna load on top. Intuitively, I think when the winds
are really strong it's more likely the mast will bend than that the pole
So, one advantage: High antenna/windload capacity. I've never heard it
stated as square feet allowable at the top, as our towers commonly are, but
maybe someone has done that sort of study or one of our towertalk readers
has info on it.
Another advantage: It's a "self supporter," so the footprint on your
property is less than a guyed tower.
And another advantage: A lot of people might be used to seeing telephone
poles around, holding your backyard or barnyard security light, etc. and may
hardly think of it as a "tower," and may find it less noticeable and less
objectionable than a "real" tower.
Practicality speaking...I have started chatting with telephone pole crews
when they're working in my vicinity and volunteering to take poles when they
have "pulls" to get rid of, etc. -- and they always ask what size I need or
want. I say, "Any size," because, I tell them, I can use them for a pole
barn, a bridge across a small stream, or if I have a long enough one, for an
antenna support. The point is, if you can scrounge successfully, you might
be able to get a free pole or two. And, I've heard it said that sometimes,
"for a case of beer" the pole guys will drill the hole and install a pole
for you. Or not. Maybe it'll take $100. Whatever, you may find it's a lot
cheaper than putting up a tower.
But, the tower option is the flip side. If you have friends with extra
tower that they'll give you, that can be comparably cheap, and something
like Rohn 25 is relatively easy for us non-professionals to put up, you
don't have to fabricate some Telrex-type "telephone pole lashup," to
transition from pole to mast, etc. The towers are already designed for
these, have rotator shelves available, etc. Most of us probably would want
the telephone pole crew and truck to put up the pole for us, but could do a
40-50' Rohn 25 ourselves or could find a ham buddy with experience doing it
who could supervise the tower installation.
For the telephone pole, you'd also want to get pole steps for it. I
question the wisdom of us amateurs trying to learn how to use spikes to go
up and down to work on antennas. Aside from the safety issue of really
being able to learn how to use them right, it'd just be a hassle compared to
climbing a tower. But real pole steps would be acceptable, though I doubt
most hams would consider them as convenient as a tower, to climb. The
telephone pole guys should be able to get you steps too. I don't know. Way
back in the past when I wanted some I had trouble finding any but did
finally get a bunch, at the invitation of W3GRF (now SK), that were out in
his woods under about a foot of leaves and debris. And, the labor of
putting steps in a tree or pole is significant -- another reason to consider
tower instead. And, climbing and working on pole steps for a while can be
more uncomfortable than on a tower, where changing position and level, etc.
is easier -- more options on a tower. On a pole with steps you tend to be
limited on where you can stand, what position you're in, etc. If it's a
simple antenna, installed with reliability and low maintenance in mind, etc.
you shouldn't have to go up very often.
So, in my opinion, poles are excellent, heavy duty, relatively short,
antenna supports. They can also be lower profile, small ground footprint,
and may be readily available for the gregarious ham, or the ham who has
friends in the telephone pole installation and removal business. If you
have a buddy who says he has a pole or two or three and will come over and
put 'em up for a case of beer, that's a good offer. The pole installer
should be able to drill the hole as part of his work.
Towers can go higher, hams are more likely to be able to install them
themselves with a couple buddies, and have convenience advantages in some
ways, though are going to tend to be more noticeable and have that
triangular footprint on your property. If you have a buddy who has a 40 or
50 or 60' tower he wants to give you and will help you put it up, that's a
good offer. You'll have some expense for concrete, you'll have to dig the
hole yourself or have a buddy with a backhoe do it, or pay to have it dug.
Not an expert, just a ham who's tried to keep his ears open, yaknow? 73 -
----- Original Message -----
From: "Alan AB2OS" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "towertalk reflector" <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, May 17, 2004 2:28 PM
Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Class 2 and Class 7 Poles
> How practical is it to use a 50' (or 60', if available)
> utility/telephone pole as a support for something like a 3-el. SteppIR?
> And how would the installed cost compare with a typical steel tower of
> the same height?
> Alan AB2OS
> On 05/17/04 02:10 pm Doug Faunt N6TQS +1-510-655-8604 put fingers to
> keyboard and launched the following message into cyberspace:
> > According to -The American Elecricians' Handbook-, the standards are
> > from ANSI, and the 10 classes are classified by the circumference at
> > the top and at a point 6 feet from the butt.
> > Class 2 is 25 inches minimum top circumference, and the figure for 6
> > feet from the butt is dependent on the type of wood and the overall
> > length.
> > Class 7 is 15 inches at the top, and 29.5 toward the butt for
> > Creosoted Southern Pine, 50 feet long.
> See: http://www.mscomputer.com for "Self Supporting Towers", "Wireless
> Weather Stations", and lot's more. Call Toll Free, 1-800-333-9041 with
> any questions and ask for Sherman, W2FLA.
> TowerTalk mailing list
See: http://www.mscomputer.com for "Self Supporting Towers", "Wireless Weather
Stations", and lot's more. Call Toll Free, 1-800-333-9041 with any questions
and ask for Sherman, W2FLA.
TowerTalk mailing list