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[TowerTalk] Planning First Beam and Installation - Comments Please

Subject: [TowerTalk] Planning First Beam and Installation - Comments Please
From: "Kevin der Kinderen" <>
Date: Wed, 10 May 2006 13:34:11 -0400
List-post: <>

I live in an apartment building. My landlord is allowing me to install a
beam if I keep it small. He's asking to see my plans before a final
commitment. I've never had a beam up before and in my research I'm finding
that it's a little more involved than putting up a TV antenna. So, I wanted
to run my skeleton plan by the pros here and get some comments and fill-ins.

Goals (in order of importance):
 * Sturdy - I've lived in the Roanoke/Blacksburg area about two years. There
has been some memorable winds coming down through here - gusts as high as 80
mph. Ice seems to be a big problem in the winter.
* Small size to be less obtrusive, easier to install (the landlord and his
crew will do the mounting).
* Performance improvement over the 125' doublet I have up now. Especially on
20 meters and higher most signals look very weak to me usually only peaking
at S-3 or less.
* Cost - I need to stay very reasonable. Total installation cost should be
no more than $800 (I can stretch this very little).

* The building I live in is made up of an old bank and store fronts - all
converted to apartments. I live in one of the store fronts beside the bank.
The building seems to be made of brick with wood beams. The peaked roof over
the bank is tin. The flat roof over the shops is below and to the right of
the peaked roof. It is gravel and tar.
* The surrounding land slopes from the front of the building to the back.
>From the front, I'm on the first floor. From the back (where my shack is)
it's the second floor and there is one more floor above me.
* Once the antenna is in the air, I will have no access to it. I can't
expect the landlord to come down and do repairs or preventive maintenance on
it. I will not be allowed up on the roof.
* The people that will be doing the installation are not hams and have never
installed an antenna that I'm aware of.

Antenna and Component Selection:
* I have looked at both the Teledyne T-6 and Cushcraft MA5B. I think the
MA5B might be more suitable though I really like what I've read about the
T-6. The MA5B is smaller and because of that I think might withstand the
winds and ice better. I understand these smaller antennas won't have the
performance of a full-sized beam but it should be significantly better than
my doublet on 20/15/10.
* I will probably do the chimney mount and try to clear the tin roof.
* I have not selected a rotator.

Problems: (comments definitely appreciated here)
* There are two mounting positions I could try. One is a chimney. This would
place the antenna over and at the edge of the tin roof. The other is on the
flat part of the roof but I wouldn't be able to get the antenna high enough
to clear the tin roof. I'm leaning towards the chimney mount and hoping the
tin roof won't have a huge impact on the antenna. Someone suggested that
with a tin roof I might be better just going with a vertical but I don't
think that will provide a significant improvement over the doublet.
* If mounting to the chimney (or any other mounting location for that
matter), I don't have a good understanding of all the components involved.
Is the installation as simple as a few (3 or 4) Y-brackets for the chimney
held in place with steel bands? From there, I'd put a few sections of tube
together to get the antenna about 5 to 10 feet above the chimney. I would
mount a small rotator to the top of this and the antenna on a short (1 or 2
feet) section of tubing on top of the rotator.
* Is this plan reasonable? Will the tin roof make the installation
ineffective? Will the wind and ice take down the antenna within the first
year? Should I just live with the doublet?

That's my story. Any hope for this apartment dweller? I can't believe I have
a landlord that has been so cooperative with my hobby. I'd definitely like
to take advantage of the situation he offers and not cause him any problems
with the installation.

Kevin - K4VD

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