Repeater Tower Project
In November, 2001, Piscataquis ARC members got together to help put up a tower for the repeater. Previously the antenna had been on a 23 foot mast attached to the repeater shack. That wasn't the best mounting arrangement for a VHF Super StationMaster antenna in Maine winter weather! Besides, maybe a little more height would improve coverage a bit?
|The first thing to be done on a tower project is to measure and lay out the location of the base and anchors, then dig some holes. Dig? More like chisel on Stickney Hill (right Terry?). The first foot isn't bad, but below that the ground gets progressively more hard until it is almost like chipping away at a rock. Speaking of which, there are plenty of rocks too. Fortunately, none of our intended hole locations ended up being in a spot where a large rock or ledge is right on the surface... although we only missed it by twenty feet or so. We did get holes into the earth (thank goodness for the pickaxe and crow bar), and I think I can guarantee the tower won't be sinking into the ground! With that done, the crew could gather to pour cement in said holes. As you can see, we worked really hard on this day. The photo shows about half the crew that was on hand for the occasion. This was in early November, and we had a lovely warm autumn day. That wasn't a given -- the weather can be quite different here at that time of year.|
|Once you've got holes filled with cement, and it has had time to cure, you can get on with the fun part... putting up the tower! Hey, wait a second! Who said this was fun? Putting up this tower involves climbing! We had the right tools for the job (gin pole and a long rope) thanks to Jim, but we were stuck with yours truly as a climber. I have always maintained that if mankind were intended to go tens of feet straight into the air, we would have wings and feathers to support this activity! That's me clinging to the tower at the 40 foot level and having lots of fun. The middle of November had passed by this time, and we were having quite a run of mostly overcast weather. It hadn't snowed (yet) but it wasn't real warm, especially when there was a breeze. As it proved more than a one day job to put up the tower (that darn climber doesn't move very fast, and seems to slow down by a factor of four for every ten feet of height), it was mostly two or three people -- whoever was available (eh Terry?) -- for this part of the job. We decided to haul up the top section of tower with the antenna already mounted on it, and this proved to be just a tad more tricky than one would have thought. It took a couple of attempts but up it went. By the way, this is Rohn 25 tower guyed with 1/4" EHS wire.|
|Hey! The view from the 53 foot level is pretty good! Those are some of my beloved mountains to the north of the site, with Mount Katahdin in the center. Ah, what a lovely clear day! But not very warm... I'll never understand why, but I went up that day just to get some pictures from the top of the new tower. By the time I got down I was quite happy to be heading for a warm place! The view to the east, southeast, and south is over mostly flat terrain for many miles, while from the southweast through west, north, and northeast is mostly hills and mountains. The tower is just high enough to have a clear veiw above all but the highest trees surrounding the site. The center of radiation is undoubtedly above everything. Yep, the views were nice in all directions... umm... except for straight down! That one might be nice too... if you're a bird! This kind of puts things into perspective as to the size of the repeater shack.|
Results? Unbelievable! I'm not sure exactly why, but coverage and "fill" in the valleys is much improved. Even on low power the repeater is doing better than it ever did on high power! To help put that into perspective, the difference between what I'm calling "low power" and "high power" is around 8 dB. Not a bad improvement for a 30 foot change in antenna height.
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