Building an antenna tower requires expertise in electricity, skill and patience. Towers can be of modest height or they can soar into the sky; the height can help make difficult, long-distance contacts. With careful planning and proper preparation, an amateur could erect a tower suitable for radio operation, Wi-Fi or other commercial uses.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Antenna tower
- Wooded forms
- Crushed rock or gravek
- Copper wire
- Bonding conductor
- Steel pipe, 16 feet long, 5 inches in diameter
- Welding supplies
- 4-inch I-beams
- 5-inch channels
- Heavy-duty gin pole
- Guy wire collar
- Guy thimbles
- 1/8-inch steel rope
- Phillistrand guy line
Research and measure the appropriate placement of an antenna tower and supporting guy lines. For this example, a 50-foot tower will be modelled. Thus, such an antenna tower would require at least three guy lines.
Use a backhoe to dig holes for the tower and guy anchors. The tower's hole should be 4 feet deep by 3 feet around, and each guy hole should be 3 feet deep by 2 feet by 3 feet. Angle the guy holes approximately 45 degrees in the opposite direction from the tower.
Insert a wooden form into each hole. This is basically a permitter box to hold the concrete while it sets. Then, place crushed rock in the bottom of the holes for proper drainage. Be sure to use a level to ensure that the forms are level.
Place the base of the tower into the tower's hole, and pour in roughly one yard of concrete. Let it set until dry.
Bury copper wire in circular fashion around tower's base about one foot deep. Then, space the ground rods around the tower's base close to the tower, yet six feet apart from one another, each rod touching the copper wire.
Connect all legs of the tower to the ground rods with a bonding conductor. Then, connect the ring ground to the entrance panel using more bonding conductor. Be sure to use connection fittings approved for grounding applications; anything otherwise could be destroyed by heat from a lightning strike.
Form the brace for all anchor poles with I-beams and channels. Each brace should be about two feet high, and two feet across at the base.
Fabricate attach points for the guy wires, and weld the bases and attach points to the anchor poles. Coat all pipes, bases and attach points with two or more coats of primer.
Prepare one yard of concrete for each guy hole, making sure to pour in enough concrete to fill the hole's one foot depth.
Insert 1/3 of the pole's length into the cement, either perpendicular to the guy wires' pulling force or in the same direction. The anchor part above the ground needs to equal 25 per cent of the pole's length or less.
Pour the remaining concrete, and allow it fully dry. The top of the concrete should be a foot or so below ground level; fill the rest of the hole with soil to ground level.
Ground the guy poles, using one ground rod for each pole, and bury wire around each pole. Then, connect the wire to the ground rod, and connect the pole to the rod in the same manner as grounding was done for the tower. The ground rod should be placed at least six feet from all other rods and the electrical service.
Connect the antenna sections, but be sure to wear proper safety and protective gear. Climb the antenna, if permitted in the manufacturer's specifications, and have an assistant use a gin pole. This allows a person to raise heavy weights vertically, thus lifting the antenna sections to the correct height, and fastening them.
Follow manufacturer's directions, when the antenna is about 40 feet high, to attach the guy collar to the tower. Make sure to use 1/8-inch steel wire for temporary guy wires. Hold the guy thimbles and wire together through the guy collar on the tower and turnbuckles on the anchor. Leave about one foot free, and clamp the wire into place with mini-clamps. Thereafter, twist the turnbuckles to maintain tower stability through tension.
Install and tension, when the antenna is fully erected, permanent Phillistrand guy wires in place of the temporary guy wires.
Tips and warnings
- Erecting an antenna tower is dangerous, so always follow local building codes and antenna installation and safety regulations. Make sure to apply for a building permit if it's required. Also, do not work on the tower during storms or windy weather. Use extreme care while welding, and do not allow children or pets into the construction area.
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