[TowerTalk] My First Tower

Ken Bauer ken.bauer at mac.com
Sat Jun 29 16:35:00 EDT 2019

I’ve been on again, off again in amateur radio, and for the past year have been on again with a vengeance! I am currently running a new Flex & Maestro at 100w to an EFHW-8010 at 100ft. I love CW and DX and may try my hand at contesting at some point. With this setup my noise is quite low, S1 - S2  typically, I I can hear a lot more than can hear me. More power will come, but I would rather have more directionality first. I’ve never had a directional antenna before, nor a tower of any sort.

I understand Santa Cruz Co. says that “Antenna Support Structures” must be below 50’. I have been eyeing a SteppIR DB-18E, although it might be tight in my clearing in the forest of about 50’ in diameter. I could get the smaller DB-11 that would fit more comfortably, although I hate to give up the gain on 40 & 30. Tree cover in the area of the clearing is 120’ pines (hmm, maybe mount on top of one of those?), coastal oaks at 40’, and youngish redwood trees on the uphill property boundary. To get my clearing I’ll have to trim back redwood branches, take out an 8” dia. madrone, and take out 2 or 3 fairly large pine branches. The site is up the side of a hill, 40’ elevation above the house, but another 40’ to the hill top on the neighbor’s property. Access is poor for anything larger than a bobcat or possibly a Deere tractor. Concrete will have to be pumped in.

I am reading and enjoying “Up the Tower”, which clued me to this reflector - very useful book! 

Obviously I can benefit from all sorts of guidance. To stir the pot a bit here are some questions:

1. Is a crank up out of the question, given the location? Not sure how to get it up a sandy/loose dirt hillside. I hear some will not climb crank ups, afraid of guillotine effect... I don’t think I would have room to do a tilt over.

2. Guyed or unguyed? Is the primary consideration the cost difference? Looking at Rohn 65G 65SS050 as it says it can handle 29.3 sq ft antenna at 70mph & 19.7 sq ft ant at 80mph, 14.5 sq ft at 90mph. DB-18E is 12.1 sq ft. The antenna/tower location is on one side of a saddle point and winter winds come whipping in sometimes during storms. Once had a micro tornado or something that ripped the live top out of one of the coastal oaks and carried it 25’ leeward. Don’t know that any tower would hold up to that, top branch was 6 - 8” in diameter. 

Given the tight space, hauling the antenna straight up next to the tower without having to wig-wag or use a rather tight tram-line, not having guys seems an advantage.

3. Am going into the county offices on Tuesday on another matter, and thought perhaps I would begin investigating the Antenna Structure Permitting process. Advice? How prepared in advance should I be? 

4. There’s a lot of additional safety equipment, tools, parts, etc. that goes along with this erection process. Am I better off finding a company to do this for me? I’m pretty handy, and also like climbing, I’ve done indoor rock climbing for many years - I just figured that improving / maintaining / fiddling with things would be non-stop once it was erected.

5. What am I likely overlooking?

Thanks everyone for your insights,
Ken WC6Y

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