E-mail me your questions about tower installation

If you have photos of your tower installation project and would like to share them, please attach .jpg or .gif files with your e-mail.  If you cannot convert your files to .jpg or .gif, send them anyway and I will convert them.


Thank you for writing the nice article on tower construction for QST! I thought I would give you some feedback as I just completed a project with some different conditions. I will be brief, and I'm sending this by mail so you will not have concern over virus by e-mail in attachments.

My [remote home] QTH is a few miles from a small city in East Central Texas and not subject to restrictions or code considerations but I did not allow that to be an excuse for compromise of good engineering practice.

My sweetie selected a site about 150 feet from the spare room in the house where I have my shack. It is somewhat obscured by trees and close to the rock driveway leading to the house. Although we have almost 30 acres, most of the area is with trees and other natural habitat. I wanted to avoid using guys so as to avoid wear on the guys and the installer-maintainer used a bolt-together tower material because that is what I had as opposed to a crank-up that was at the previous location.

The foundation was built using a backhoe to dig into red clay soil 5-1/2 feet with the sides at 6 by 6 feet. I formed the perimeter with Zx6 and laced the hole with sand under the base,4-5 foot pieces of Rohn 45 [completely covered] at the corners and a 7/8-inch rebar matrix is laced through the tower sections in two directions and tied appropriately. I contracted for a local Transit Mix outfit to deliver, pour, poke & level a 5-Sack mix. We emptied a 10-yard truck for the 2 large bases.


All four sides of the base have 8 foot ground rods with 1-1/2 inch copper strap leading to a one-foot wide copper sheet that emerges from a stainless NEMA box wherein I have disconnects for the lead-ins and Polyphaser devices for 3 coax lines and an 8 wire one for the rotor control. Low HF is fed with 9913, high HF is fed with % inch Heliax and VHF/UHF is fed with 7/8 inch Heliax from the shack to the base. All of that run is in conduit, 2/3 of it is underground,

To make the tower really strong and within Rohn design, I chose to place series 55 next to series 45 and bolt them together to provide mutual support similar to a bracketed installation. The 55 rises 55 feet and the 45 rises 4S feet. A 20-foot mast is planted in a rotator that is 4 feet below a bearing equipped top plate. The LP is 3 feet above the plate. Thirteen feet above the LP is a pointed top to aid in providing an 'umbrella' field for lightning protection. The mast has two one inch copper braid sections tied to the tower for lightning path bypass of the rotor.

I did not like the idea of using a gin pole for the project, much less for the Rohn 55 [100 pounds a section] so I made a place on level ground where I could use supports on which I assembled the tower sections, added the plates, rotor, coax, feed line and rope to manage the raising of the big dipole. A nearby rancher does a little 'bucket truck" work for a reasonable fee. It is a monster with 4 outriggers and a 50+ foot boom. His rigging experience and light touch took up the 55, 45, and two similarly built 40 foot pieces of Rohn 25 for the other end of the dipoles and a single 40 foot piece of Rohn 25 for the house-bracketed TVRO antenna. We then took up the LPt bolting it in place by holding it in place and sliding the u-bolts across and finally the TV antenna. With all of the preassembly done, all the bases having 10 foot sections firmly planted in 30 day old concrete, and with his skill we were done in two hours and fifteen minutes!

My choice of antenna was a Log Periodic for the high end of HF and a broadband folded dipole for SWL & 60 meters to supplement the tree supported long windoms I use on the HF. The LP does not like anything resembling a resonant guy under it. I also wanted to place VHf/UHF verticals favoring the North that would not bother the beam so I placed the 6-foot collinear array atop the 45, effectively side mounting away from the flat side of the 55 ten feet below the top.

The site with the double Rohn 25 is along the 's-curved' driveway over which the dipole is placed. Its base is similar to the main one except it is 4 feet square and 4-1/2 feet deep. Two 8 foot ground rods ground this combination and another pair of them are at the 2x2x4 foot base of the bracketed tower with a Polyphaser on the RG-6 line for the TV. The rotor for the TV is an old [vintage '64] Ham-M I rebuilt and placed at the 5-foot level with 40 feet of TV mast up the center of the tower to support and rotate the antenna.

One mistake I made was to not plant fence posts at the corners in the concrete base to facilitate installing a wire fence to deter climbing. I have installed chain-link wire with padlocks and am considering Rohn's anti-climb panels even though we have had no trespassers that I know of in 5 years. You never know when one of the grandkids might get curious though.

We both, it seems, have arrived at the same point at about the same time with excellent onthe-air results. Planning and patience pays. I'm confident the installation would pass inspection in the l)allas area [our second home]. The nearest aboveground electric utility lines are 300+ feet away and the 3KV transformer is 800 feet away. I have no worries about mechanical contact with utilities and my man-made QRN factor is S-Zero.

73 de bill, W5VSD



Hi Bill,


Thank you for your letter of June 23.  I enjoyed reading it and seeing the pictures.  Living in Southern California, even the average half-million-dollar home is built on a postage stamp size lot, so few people have the space for an installation like yours.


My hole had to be dug by hand because the smallest machinery could not fit in the space between my house and my neighbor’s.  Additionally, there were some concerns about having the equipment and, in fact the hole, in close proximity to the swimming pool.  I am impressed by the fact that you have a friend with a bucket truck and rigging expertise.  I guess that is one of the benefits of living in the country.


At my old QTH I had to protect the tower from kids.  The yard was not fenced in the area of the tower and I had both my own kids and others in the neighborhood to worry about.  I was not about to pay the $350 that US Tower wanted for steel panels.  I solved the problem cheaply with three 8-foot sections of plywood that I joined together with hinges along two joints.  I installed a hasp and padlock at the third.  I painted it to protect it from termites (a big problem here) and the elements.  It just sat on the ground forming a triangular box surrounding the tower.  It cost about $25 for materials in the 1980’s and it did the job very well.





Bart, WB6WUW  

The use of plywood is an excellent idea! My temporary fix was the wire fence material with locks you see in the pictures.  With the 55 & 45 bolted together the result is four sides so prudent fitting in the manner you used might work well.  I still may, however, put a 6 foot fence around the base, 8 feet on a side, with a locked gate.  On another occasion, I will take a pix of the inside of the box with better detail of grounding and a better pix of what is on top when I have the verticals on the shorter section under the LP.

73 de Bill, W5VSD 


Hello again, the last Pix I promised - shows the 144/450 vertical on the shorter (45) sections and the box with disconnect switches & Polyphasers for HF1, HF2, V/UHF, and 8-line one for rotor control. I used 9913, 1/2" Heliax and 7/8" Heliax on the appropriate frequencies. They exit at the connectors of Polyphasers that are mounted to the copper/bulkhead on the bottom of the stainless NEMA box. The most physically demanding part of the job was putting all that cable in a 4" conduit, above ground thru the trees, then underground to the house another 100 feet away. The 3rd picture is the top of the double 25 that supports the other end of the "all band-frequency agile" folded dipole at 45 feet. OK, the last one is superfulous and it and the text need not be included on your site. It is the single bracketed 25 with the TV antenna at 40 feet. Note the mast has a fuzzball on top and it descends to about eye level where the Ham-M turns the 1-1/4" mast. The mast is grounded again to the tower with two 1" flat tinned copper braids. I used a polyphaser at the bottom with "N" connectors for the TV feedline & grounded it to the ground straps taking the tower to a pair of 8 foot copper
plated rods outside the perimeter of the 2 foot square, 4 foot deep base.


73 de Bill, W5VSD


----Original Message-----
From: W1WJG@aol.com [mailto:W1WJG@aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 2003 11:04 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Rotator

I enjoyed your article in QST. How far down from the top of the tower do you recommend placing the rotator on my 30 foot tower?

Pete Bedrosian

It depends on the tower construction mast length and the number of square feet of antenna loading you will have.  I have my rotor at the top most position with the rotor plate on the first horizontal set of rungs down from the tower's top.  The mast length is 10 feet and, since my tower has a 6 inch long mast sleeve that removes side to side loads from the rotor incorporated in its design, I do not need a thrust bearing.  The mast extends 6 feet above the top of the tower.
Although I can not give you a mathematical formula, I would consider the following when making this decision:
1)  The length and construction of the mast:  For masts longer then 15 to 20 feet, I would go to triple-wall construction.  Also, consider that the mast adds to the total wind loading and will subtract from the available wind loading for the antennas.  For example, if your tower is rated for 15 square feet of wind loading and you stack two antennas with 6 feet of loading each, that will only allow 3 feet of wind loading for the mast.  Wind loading is the surface area exposed to the wind.  If a mast is 2 1/2 inches in diameter (wide) and 10 feet long the wind loading is about 2 feet (2.5" x 10'/12").  If you go to a 15 foot mast, you would be right at the tower's specified limit without room for error.  My advise is to be conservative.  A few extra feet will not make much difference in performance.
2)  The wind loading of the antenna(s).  Larger antennas or stacked antennas require substantially more support.
3)  If you are going to have a tall mast or a big array, you will need a thrust bearing.  Within design limits, rotors handle vertical loads quite well.  They do not handle side to side loads efficiently, however.  A thrust bearing or a sleeve that is incorporated into the tower's design will prevent overload damage to your rotor.
4)  The construction of your tower; i.e., light duty Vs. heavy duty construction.
I would not try to push the envelope on height.  Remember, you will need to be able to have access to your antennas for repair.  If the mast extends too far above the top of the tower, you will not be able to strap yourself to the mast, reach up and work on it as I do.
My final word of advice is that you play it safe and not take chances.  If you use top quality materials including a double or triple wall mast as appropriate and your final assembly looks balanced to the eye, you will probably be ok.  If it looks top heavy or unbalanced, it looks that way for a reason.
Bart, WB6WUW
P.S.:  If you enjoyed my article, please remember to vote for the article of the month on the ARRL web site at .  Thank you.

My tower is already installed and is composed of 3 10-foot sections each weighing 35 LB for a total of 105 lb. It is mounted on a hinge and can be easily raised and lowered with the winch that I already installed.  I plan to use a 26.5 LB Cushcraft MA 5B Beam (Max wind surface area is 3.22 sq-ft) with a Hy-Gain CD-45 II. Where do you recommend placing the Rotator and Max length of steel mast? Is it possible to also mount a TV Antenna just above the top of the tower?

Thanks for any help.



Hi Pete,

You have neglected to provide me important data.  What is your tower's maximum allowable wind load specification?  Who is your tower's manufacturer?  Is it free standing or guyed?  What is the dimension on one side of the triangle?
Since your ham antenna's wind load is comparable to that of a large TV antenna, I would guess that you would have enough margin to stack a TV antenna, but I cannot say for sure without knowing the towers maximum wind load specification.  Assuming your tower has either a mast sleeve or thrust bearing and you use a 10 foot double wall mast, you should locate the rotor so no more then 6 or 7 feet of the mast protrudes above the tower's top plate.  Please understand that I am not an engineer and that these recommendations are not based on the mathematical calculations an engineer would use to verify safety. 
If you use a 15 foot mast, you should consider triple wall construction.  The rotor would need to sit lower in the tower, so you will not gain 5 additional feet over a 10 foot mast.  I would limit the mast protrusion above the top of the tower to 10 feet.
I really do not have experience with 20 and 25 foot masts and am, therefore reluctant to advise you.  For that size mast, you should probably talk to someone who has experience with large stacked arrays.  If you really need that height and you have a Rohm Tower such as their 45 series or a tower with a similar modular design, you might be safer to add a section.  If you do, you must be sure that you do not exceed the design capabilities of your footing.
Bart, WB6WUW



In a message dated 6/19/03 9:23:06 PM Eastern Daylight Time, bart@wb6wuw.us writes:

Hello again Bart:
Thanks very much for your reply. It is very helpful to me.

You have neglected to provide me important data.

What is your tower's maximum allowable wind load specification?
No Info on wind load

Who is your tower's manufacturer?
American Tower (Popular Tower manufacturer for TV Antennas.)

Is it free standing or guyed?
Free Standing

What is the dimension on one side of the triangle?

12 inches (11-inch centers between each leg).

No Thrust bearing will be used, since it has a Mast Sleeve approx. 12 inches long at the top. Do you lubricate the inside of your mast sleeve? I was planning on placing a grease fitting in the sleeve. I can place the assembled Antenna and Rotator at ground level as the hinged tower is supported by 6 foot support so as to keep it off the ground in its "down position".  The winch is a few feet off the ground and is mounted on a 3-1/2 inch dia steel pole (cemented in the ground behind the mast) that extends a couple of feet above the first 10-foot section where the pulley is attached. The tower is clamped to that pole after it is in an upright position. Below is a picture of the erected tower. I have also attached the photo.

Pete (W1WJG@aol.com)


Hi Pete,
First Pete, I want to preface this by saying that I have never worked with a TV type tower and what follows is all guess work: i.e., I will not be held responsible if everything comes crashing down.  The fact that you are using a light weight TV tower instead of a tower designed for ham or commercial use changes everything.  I find it disturbing that you do not have wind loading specifications for your tower.  That means you have no way of knowing if you are exceeding design limits.  I would contact American Tower and find out the specifications and there recommendations and stay within that envelope.
If you cannot get that information, the safe thing to do is to assume that it was designed for a small to medium size TV antenna and operate within those limits.  That means a 5 foot mast with the single ham antenna (no stacking with a TV antenna) mounted no more then one or two feet above the top of the tower.
If you insist on pushing the envelope, you must consider these questions:  What state are you in?  What are the highest wind gusts that have historically occurred in your area; i.e. contact the U.S. Weather Service and ask about the 100 year wind gust record for your area?  Is your house surrounded by large trees or other objects that provide a wind brake at tower top height or are you in the open like a farm in Kansas?  Also, did you just dig a hole and pour in home mixed cement or did you build a footing to the manufacturer's specifications?  All of these factors must be weighed in addition to those I mentioned in earlier e-mails.
As far as lubrication of the mast sleeve, I like your idea of a grease fitting.  I wish I thought of that.  I coated the inside of the sleeve on my tower with high grade grease before insertion of the mast.  When I do maintenance that requires moving the mast up and then down again, I re-grease.  That means the sleeve gets greased only once in several years.  I suspect that one could get by with a dry sleeve since there is nothing to ware out in that area and rotational motion is slow and infrequent.  But, why take a chance?  I do think, however, that if you are using a light duty rotor, that will be more of an issue since the friction with a dry sleeve will present more of a torque load to the rotor.  I use a Tailtwister that is very overrated relative to the load I place on it, so that is not an issue of concern.

-----Original Message-----
From: Christian von Wechmar [mailto:christian@owf.co.za]
Sent: Monday, June 23, 2003 7:12 AM
To: bart@wb6wuw.us
Subject: FB QST Article

Hi Bart,

Great article in QST. I checked out your website too. My 40 foot crank-up tower is lying next to my house, waiting to be put up. Your article has given me new courage, and many useful hints!

73 Chris ZS1DX

Hi Chris,

Thank you for your kind words. Believe it or not, I have not seen the July issue of QST yet. I have only seen the galley proofs of my article. Since they send QST by 4th class mail, California receives QST after the rest of the country. What is your QTH? Can you please tell me what pages they put it on and when you received it.

When you install your tower, could you please take lots of pictures and send me some? I would like to develop my website into a general resource with information from several tower installation projects from around the country. If you have any questions as you proceed, feel free to contact me and I will give you any aid I can.

Bart, WB6WUW


Hi again Bart,

My QTH is Stellenbosch, near Cape Town, in South Africa! Glad to see that the international mail is faster than the local US mail HI.

Your article spans pages 33 to 37. I got my QST on Friday, 20 June.

I'll take lots of pics when I put it up. BTW, I voted for your article.

Good luck, and 73 de Chris ZS1DX

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Genest [mailto:egenest@seniorglobe.org]
Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2003 6:37 AM
To: bart@wb6wuw.us
Subject: Tower

Good morning Bart,


Great article in QST. I read every word. It is the very information that I need. Last year or more I was given a    Tri-Ex 36' tower. It is a 36 footer. I plan on putting it up in my back yard in much like your setup. I went to the city for permit information and was given the guidelines that I would need to get the process approved. Now I am looking for a set of blueprints of the hole, rebar etc. I have plans for my Plot plans. I need the drawings for the hole and rebar. I was wondering if I could use yours. I would be willing to pay a reasonable price for them. Is this even possible?
Thanks in advance for any help and information.


Ed Genest
Oceanside, Ca


Hi Ed,

Thank you for your kind words about my article.  Tri-Ex, like all tower manufacturers, has footing plans that are designed for your specific tower model.  Using the correct plan is important because a properly designed footing and tower work together as a single unit to withstand loads.  If you were to use my plans, it is possible that they would be deficient in three regards.  First, depending upon your tower's design specifications, it may or may not be adequate to withstand the load.  Secondly, if the city engineer notices that the plans specifically identifies a manufacturer other then Tri-Ex, your permit will not be approved.  Finally, the certification on my plans states that the calculations are based on the 1985 UBC.  If Oceanside's Department of Building and Safety's rules are like Buena Park's, they will insist that the specifications be recalculated by a certified engineer to the most recent UBC (1997).  Therefore, the most logical course of action is to procure plans from the manufacturer.
Tri-Ex was bought out by Tashjian Towers Corporation.  There address is 2183 South Highland Avenue, Sanger, CA 93657.  Phone:  (559) 495-0307.  There URL is http://www.karltashjian.com
If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me.
Bart, WB6WUW



-----Original Message-----

From: demarco@usp.br [mailto:demarco@usp.br]

Sent: Saturday, June 28, 2003 9:46 AM

To: bart@wb6wuw.us

Subject: QST tower article


Hello Bart,

I want to thank for your article on QST. I have a crank-up tower lying on the garden floor, guess that it was an article like yours I was waiting for!

Indeed I voted for it on the ARRL web site.

My tower is self supporting and consists of two sections, 26 feet each, with a hinged base. I'd like to know some more details about the foundation and rebar cage in order to compare with mine. What are the diameters of the steel used on the rebar cage? How many horizontal and vertical sections comprise the cage?


 Joao Kolar De Marco, PY2FCE

 in Atibaia, São Paulo, Brazil

Hi Joao,

Thank you for the kind words and your vote.

Without pulling out the file, I do not remember the rebar diameter.  As I recall, the specifications are four vertical on each of the four faces of the rectangle and one horizontal member spaced 6 inches apart with 4 inch spacing between the top and bottom most members.  The length of all sides was such that there is a 6 inch clearance between the cage and the vertical faces of the hole and 4 inches between the bottom and top of the concrete.  You should not use this as a specification for your footing however, since you have a different tower design.  You must go according to the tower manufacturer's recommendations and your local building code to ensure safety.


 Bart, WB6WUW

-----Original Message-----

From: WA4AIP@aol.com [mailto:WA4AIP@aol.com]

Sent: Friday, June 27, 2003 8:55 PM

To: bart@wb6wuw.us

Subject: QST tower article



I thoroughly enjoyed your article in the July issue of QST.  I have the "base" poured and ready for a US Tower TMM-433SS later this summer.  Would you please clarify a couple of terms you used in your article for me; "drift pin"  and  "ground rod box?"  I am not familiar with these two terms!

Additionally, being in Florida, I am interested in a "quick disconnect" method at the tower base to isolate the RG-213 running from the antenna into the shack some 125' away  -- my concern is lightning strikes!

Your assistance on these items will be greatly appreciated, Bart.




Hi John,

Thank you for your e-mail.  If you liked my article, please vote in the monthly QST contest at http://www.arrl.org/members-only/qstvote.html?pidx=0.

A "drift pin" or "bull pin" is basically a tapered steel rod that you jam into an adjacent hole set to force the holes through which you need to place a bolt into alignment.

I used the term "ground rod box" to describe an area surrounded by concrete where you can drive ground rods.  As I mentioned in the article, the tower footing is part of an extension to my pool deck.  Since the concert deck now goes right up to the house, it was necessary to have an area on the outside wall of the house directly opposite the placement of the rig for the station and tower ground.  This allows ground strap from my rig to the ground to be under 6 feet.  The tower's center is about 2 feet from the ground box and it is grounded with a 2 1/2 foot length of number 2 welding cable.

As far as lightning protection goes, I am not an expert on that subject.  We seldom have lightning in Orange County, California, so the only protection I really need is the arrester built into my tuner.  On the few occasions we have static activity, I disconnect the coax as a precaution, but I am not aware of anyone in the area who has ever suffered damage.

As far as quick disconnects go, I have a quick disconnect PL259 that I use to connect my 2 meter HT to an outside antenna.  The trade off is that is a little more inefficient then the standard screw on type.  In any case, I would talk to your local hams about lightning issues since they probably have experience.


Bart, WB6WUW

-----Original Message-----
From: Larry R. Ragland [mailto:ragland@teleport.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2003 5:34 PM
To: bart@wb6wuw.us
Subject: QST Article, ISO 9000

Hi Bart,

I appreciated your article in the July QST.  Good job.  I have one question.  In Figure 7, is the gray line running from the top of the gin pole to the bottom left corner of the photo the rope used to pull the antenna to the top of the tower?  If so, my suggestion would be to first run this rope to a block very near the base of the tower.  Then, the tower tension load is nearly straight down, instead of putting a horizontal load component at the top of the gin pole.


Larry Ragland, W7LRR

Hi Larry,

Thank you for the e-mail.  You are correct.  The line is going through the pulley.  On the left and out of the picture, someone is holding the rope that is supporting the beam.

I agree whole heartedly with your suggestion about running the rope down the tower.

If you liked the article, please vote in the QST monthly contest at http://www.arrl.org/members-only/qstvote.html?pidx=0.


Bart, WB6WUW

----- Original Message -----

From: morris

To: bart@thouse.com

Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2003 6:03 PM

Subject: QST

Hello Bart.

I just finished reading your article in QST on tower/antenna.  I am in the process of re-installing my tower/antenna at my new QTH.  Am always looking for time-saving methods for doing things like this.

Very good article, but I felt you missed two important steps.  There was no mention of the leveling nuts under the tower baseplate.  On my first installation, I did not install these little items, which makes for a real leveling pain.  There was know mention of leveling the tower at all.  Its very important that the tower is not leaning after its erected.  There was also know mention of aligning the rotor with the thrust bearing. This is also very important. Im still trying to find a simple way, short of shims of doing this.

On past installations I have made every mistake possible. If I had your article in the past I would have made way fewer mistakes.  This installation I'm doing now, US Tower has changed the specs. on the hole & cage. I have the TX-455 tower.  It now requires a 5X5X6 ft. hole, and about a 300# rebar cage.  A backhoe did this in about 30 minutes.  The backhoe operator was not real careful and the sides were not straight. Instead of 6 yards of cement, it took almost 8 yards. I had ordered 7 yards. The driver was very quick at getting me another yard at about three times the cost of the other 7 yards.

I rented a cement vibrator for $50. It really was worth it. You never realize how much air is trapped in the cement during the pour.

Again your article was very good and would save a lot of time and mistakes for a first-timer.  I got my ticket in 1954.  Am still in the learning process.

73 & good DX



Hi Ron,

Thank you for the kind words about my article.  You are absolutely correct about the leveling screws and alignment.  I never even realized I forgot about it until I received your e-mail.  As far as the rotor alignment, the editor cut that.  I wrote the piece as a two part article, expecting it to be published in two successive issues.  The first part covered the footing and the second the tower and antenna raising.  The editor decided to combine it into a single article, so about half of my original text was deleted.  Although I reviewed the galley proofs, I recognized that some things had to go to make it fit.  I think the editor cut the rotor alignment because it is usually covered in the rotor's instruction book.
It is interesting about US Tower's increased footing specifications.  I would guess this may be due to the 1997 revision of the UBC.  The code is revised approximately every ten years.
If you liked my article, please vote for it in the QST monthly cover contest at http://www.arrl.org/members-only/qstvote.html?pidx=0.
Bart, WB6WUW


 -----Original Message-----

 From: WA4AIP@aol.com [mailto:WA4AIP@aol.com]

 Sent: Friday, June 27, 2003 8:55 PM

 To: bart@wb6wuw.us

 Subject: QST tower article



I thoroughly enjoyed your article in the July issue of QST.  I have the "base" poured and ready for a US Tower TMM-433SS later this summer.  Would you please clarify a couple of terms you used in your article for me; "drift pin" and "ground rod box?"  I am not familiar with these two terms!

Additionally, being in Florida, I am interested in a "quick disconnect" method at the tower base to isolate the RG-213 running from the antenna into the shack some 125' away  -- my concern is lightning strikes!

Your assistance on these items will be greatly appreciated,



John, WA4AIP



Hi John,

Thank you for your e-mail.   A "drift pin" or "bull pin" is basically a tapered steel rod that you jam

into an adjacent hole set to force the holes through which you need to place a bolt into alignment.


I used the term "ground rod box" to describe an area surrounded by concrete where you can drive ground rods.   As I mentioned in the article, the tower footing is part of an extension to my pool deck.  Since the concert deck now goes right up to the house, it was necessary to have an area on the outside wall of the house directly opposite the placement of the rig for the station and tower ground.   This allows ground strap from my rig to the ground to be under 6 feet.   The tower's center is about 2 feet from the ground box and it is grounded with a 2 1/2 foot length of number 2 welding cable.


As far as lightning protection goes, I am not an expert on that subject.  We seldom have lightning in Orange County, California, so the only protection I really need is the arrester built into my tuner.  On the few occasions we have static activity, I disconnect the coax as a precaution, but I am not aware of anyone in the area who has ever suffered damage.

As far as quick disconnects go, I have a quick disconnect PL259 that I use to connect my 2 meter HT to an outside antenna.   The trade off is that is a little more inefficient then the standard screw on type.  In any case, I would talk to your local hams about lightning issues since they probably have experience.




Hi John,

If the hyperlink doesn't work, go to the ARRL Members Only Page.  There is a hyperlink just above the buff colored FAQ section, "Vote for the best July 2003 or June 2003 QST story!"

I wouldn't have thought of the welding cable myself if I had not worked for a company that made welding robots at the time.  The welding cable I use is rated for 8 KW.  Only a direct or near direct hit could cause it to open.  In addition, it is copper stranded so it is flexible and the insulation is a thick rubber like material, so it handles the environment very well.


Bart, WB6WUW

-----Original Message-----
From: Thomas Cordich [mailto:wb6lpn@worldnet.att.net]
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2003 10:59 AM
To: bart@wb6wuw.us
Subject: your QST article

I read your article on tower and antenna installation and found it very interesting although as a old ham with a  "do it yourself " mentality I found a few things I might reflect on. I have installed 6 tower and antenna installations in 2 states so I do have some practical experience.

First if you are not aware, US Tower and its former company names ( Tristao, and Palmer ) have, since the 1960's offered on loan or for sale, tower raising fixtures and dollys so the need to make or use home made devises is not needed. It also precludes the need for more than two people to do an entire install.

Second, the antenna , rotor, mast, coax and all items can be installed from ground level and as a matter of fact US Tower does not endorse or encourage the climbing their towers for any reason. If anything they highly discourage the climbing of their towers.  All raising and lowering fixtures can be rented or bought at any time.

Third  item of interest or info is the respective building departments have soil information and the need for a civil engineer is fine if you want to spend extra money but the building departments will usually tell you what is needed for hole size and cement configuration as needed for the soil content in their particular area.

As an added point, most professional builders that I have worked with will not weld the basket but will instead wire it together.  I am not sure why but am told it is more permanent as a weld could separate.

The last comment I have is one I am in total agreement with you on and that is the waiting of a period of time before installing the antenna or coax as I have had the same experience and was smiling when I informed and was able to show the complainant that there was nothing connected from the tower to the radio.  That advise was given to me in the 1960's by another ham who seemed to know that people will complain for no true reason.

Nice article and if you were not aware of the items and info I am sending - this is what ham radio is about - and that is sharing information with each other.

73  Tom  w7tc

Hi Tom,


Thank you for your e-mail.  Since your raised several issues, I will answer them in order.


1)    Although I am aware that Tristao, Tristao and Pratt and US Tower have offered tower raising fixtures for sale, I was not aware of a rental or loan policy.  In my particular installation, use of both the tower raising fixture and on ground antenna installation was precluded by the fact that there is  a 6 foot high cinderblock wall on the far side of the swimming pool over which the tower had to be laid before erecting.  In order to have space on my property, a tower leg needed to be placed 6 inches from the outside wall of the house.  With the tower laying across the pool and the base attached with the hinge bolts, the top of the tower in the full down position was 5 inches from the wall.


2)    Just about all tower manufactures publish written statements discourage climbing towers to protect themselves from law suits.  I agree with you that climbing should be avoided if possible, but it is not always possible.


3)    I didn't hire a structural engineer by choice.  Since the tower was constructed according to the 1975 UBC, the City of Buena Park, California required me to have the tower and footing specifications re-certified to the 1985 UBC.  At the time I bought my tower, Tristao and Pratt were in financial trouble (I didn't know that when I place my order).  As a result, Lou Tristao built my TX 438  tower from the lower two sections of a TX 455.  I didn't argue with him at the time, since I got a tower with an 18 inch lower section and 15 1/2 inch upper section, rather then the 15 1/2 and 12 inch sections that the standard TX 438 specification called for.  Effectively, I got what is now the TX 535 for the same price as a TX 435 (Tristao and Pratt did not make a heavy duty 38 foot tower at that time).  When I moved to Buena Bark, the Department of Building and Safety was not impressed that the footing specification was for a 55 foot tower rather then the 38 foot tower I had and would not issue the permit without re-certification.


4)    The rebar cage at the first location was wired.  The contractor for my current location welded the cage.  I was not even aware that you could weld a rebar cage until I saw it.  He said it was more reliable.  Frankly, I don't know.  On the one hand, a properly made weld is as strong as the original material.  Please understand that my welding expertise in that regard is confined to TIG welding of stainless steel and titanium.  On the other hand, it also makes sense that wiring the rebar would allow some slight movement that might be beneficial. 


5)    I waited to put up the antenna because I had seen the same advice in QST in the 60's and had also heard similar stories from other hams over the years.


If you enjoyed my article, please vote in the QST cover award competition at http://www.arrl.org/members-only/qstvote.html?pidx=0.  If you have trouble with that hyperlink, you will find a link on the members only page on the ARRL web site.



Bart, WB6WUW


Sounds like you had a terrible time and place of installation.  My condolences !  I have always tried to survey the place I am going to live to prevent problems such as you encountered.  I have a 1 1/2 acre place here in Nevada with no restrictions, so along with my tower and beams for 10 thru 20 and a 40 meter mono-bander, I also have a Hy-tower vertical and a 256 foot horizontal loop. Great setup for DX or anything else.  Great article too and glad your tower and beam work well for you.  I guess some of us are lucky. By the way, my sister-in-law lives in Buena Park! I sure hope she was not the neighbor who complained.

HI HI       73 again Tom w7tc

I surveyed the area too, but in Southern California, even most million dollar homes don't have 1 1/2 acre lots.  Most of the average homes in Orange County (the average price is $390,000), have only six feet on either side to the property line.  I did write a clause in my offer to buy to allow me to cancel the deal if there were any CC&R's restricting antennas.  Luckily, there were none. 

I would love a Hy-tower for 40 and 80, but since my wife won't let me put one in the front yard, there is no place to put it!  The longest antenna I can fit is an inverted-v on 40.  I would like to convert my KT34A to a KT34XA, but it is too big.  When I point my KT34A north to south, it is within my property line.  At a 45 degree heading the elements overhang my neighbor's property.  If I upgraded to an XA, I could not position it so that it would not overhang.  This is not an issue with my current neighbor, but if he were to sell his house, I could be in a bad position.  In the end, I think I have done all I can with the available space restrictions.  I am, however, very open to suggestions!

I never found out for sure who complained because the city inspector said it was confidential.  However, I think it was one of two people and they have both moved.

Thank you for voting.


Bart, WB6WUW 


I have no suggestions but you do have my sympathy. I used to live in Lakewood Cal. and that city was very cooperative but that was a long time ago. I had both a 72-foot tower and a Hy-tower there with a tri band and a 40-meter beam. I have always tried to have stacked beams at my QTH. I do understand your plight as I have been there.

The best 2 cities in So. Ca. were Lakewood and Bellflower but who knows about now a days. The good times may be gone in Ca. I do realize that it is much more congested there than when I was a resident. I did have the lot size problems that you had. In Lakewood I had just enough room for the tower to tilt up and after clearing the rear fence I could install the mast and antenna's.  My tower cleared the rear fence by 2 feet before it was tilted up. I was lucky.

Tom w7tc


-----Original Message-----
From: Conrad Nasatka [mailto:conco@paonline.com]
Sent: Sunday, July 06, 2003 1:13 PM
To: bart@wb6wuw.us



My question is more about an observation.  Was the antenna installed a KT34?  It is funny but I just ordered my tower last Thursday and your article, neat by the way, was very timely.  Getting published in QST, I am a life member, had to be a highlight of your ham career.  I would like to get some info on the rebar arrangement.  How did you determine how much concrete you would need?  I am using the Rohn 40 inch short base in the concrete so if I move I just leave the short base. I am then going up 4 -10 foot sections and a flat-top, top section that is 8 foot with a TB-3 in it.  I am using a 36 inch house bracket, up 6 feet. Thank you for your time.


Conrad Nasatka



Hi Conrad,

The antenna is a KLM KT34A and, yes; getting published is a highlight.

The rebar specifications should come from your tower's manufacturer.  If you are buying a new tower and the manufacturer will not provide all specifications certified to the latest UBC, I would not buy that manufacturer's product.  Those documents will include the minimum requirements for the concrete mix.  It is ok to exceed that spec, but do not go below it.  If you live in a municipality, your local building code may also require minor modifications to the manufacturer's drawings.  For example, closer horizontal member spacing or thicker rebar, concrete specifications, etc.  Since each tower design is unique, the specifications for my tower's footing would not be applicable to yours.

Which Rohm tower are you considering?  Is it free standing or guyed?  Although I have no experience in the matter, I have been told that bracing the tower against the house can conduct noise from wind induced tower vibration into the structure.  You should check that out before you proceed and let me know what you find.

As you can see on my website, www.wb6wuw.com, I have been compiling e-mails such as yours as a resource for other hams considering a tower.  I would appreciate it if you would take photographs and send me copies in .jpg or .gif format for posting as you proceed with construction.  Thank you.


 Bart, WB6WUW


----- Original Message -----
From: orthodoct
To: bart@teahouse.com
Sent: Wednesday, July 09, 2003 9:31 PM
Subject: tower rerference material

Dear Bart:
Read your timely article in QST with great interest.  I recently moved to an area with no antenna restrictions.  As a result, I am erecting a tower.  I am unfamiliar with the term "ground box" and quite frankly, am in need of additional reference material on the subject of installing a tower, proper grounding, etc.  Are you aware of such a reference?  Enjoyed your article greatly and look forward to your reply.
Vy 73 and congratulations on your publication!
(Russell T. Garland, M.D.)


Hi Ty,

You are the second person to ask that question.  "Ground rod box" is a descriptive term I dreamed up for lack of any better terminology.  Since I needed to drive my ground rods in an area that would be within the boundaries of my pool deck extension, I framed a one-foot square around which the concrete was poured.  This left a one-foot square area uncovered by concrete where I could drive my ground rods.  On one side of the framed box, I ran a 1 inch diameter PVC pipe under the concrete to an area that would be clear of the pool deck.  This conduit was used to run a drip irrigation hose to the ground rod box.  The soil is kept damp by the drip hose to increase ground conductance.  I chose a flow device that drips about one gallon of water an hour.  I ran a second 2 inch diameter PVC pipe under the concrete from the other end of the box to act as a conduit for a number 00 welding cable to ground the tower.

If you want more detail then QST published in the edited for space article, please go to my website at www.wb6wuw.com and click on the picture of my tower at the top of the page.  One of the reasons I wrote the article was because I could not find a similar article in my 30 year collection of QST Magazines.  As far as grounding schemes, I would look at past issues of QST, 73 and the ARRL Handbook. 

Basically, you need two grounds.  First a station ground for your equipment.  The ground rod should be as close to the equipment as possible.  For high frequency, if the ground is too long it can act like an antenna and cause TVI.  Since I positioned my ground rod near the wall opposite my rig, I was able to ground my station with a 4-foot ground strap.  If you must run a long ground wire as I did when I lived in a second story apartment, you will need a choke in the ground wire.  Since a long ground wire has resistance (all it takes is a few ohms), your rig will be at some point above ground.  For high frequencies, the ground wire can radiate and cause TVI.  A properly designed choke will attenuate the radiation.

The second ground is for the tower.  Since we do not have lightning problems in costal Southern California, my tower is directly grounded through a 3-foot welding cable.  Since, judging by your call sign you must consider lightning or high energy static discharges, you will need a lightning arrester.  You will find allot of information on that subject in QST, 73 and the ARRL Handbook.  You should use a common point ground (the same ground rod for both grounds) if physically possible.  This will prevent the possibility of ground loops.

Thank you.

Bart, WB6WUW



Dear Bart:

Thank you for the very kind reply.  I know that it took you a long time to compose that!!  The information that you supplied is exactly what I need.  I will click on the ARRL site tonight.  You've got my vote! Wish I could vote more than once, but I'm not in Alabama or Mississippi. Shack will be on third floor of my house in the theater room. I used RFI isolators supplied by Radio Works coupled to a #1 AWG cable, 1"  braid tying everything to a common point with multiple Alpha Delta lightning arrestors.  I grounded every antenna when not in use.

I'll check your website.  I ordered the ARRL Antenna book last night .  Good luck, TNX, and hope to see you down the log!

Vy 73




For more how to information about tower installation visit www.ko4bb.com.


Last updated December 7, 2003