Tower Install – Day 1 “The Big Dig”

This blog will chronicle the installation of my ham radio tower. After operating for 30 years with makeshift wire and vertical antennas, often hidden to avoid the wrath of home owner’s associations, I’m finally free to install a tower and beams. I’m primarily a DXer and I’m looking forward to my transition from little pistol to medium gun on the bands.

After many months of waiting for building permits, equipment, and logistics to be straightened out, installation of my tower finally got underway today. The tower is a 60′ AN Wireless free-standing tower. It will initially have a Hy-Gain TH-7DX tri-band yagi at around 65′. I plan to install several other antennas in the future, but the TH-7DX will be a good start.

The tower was delivered a few weeks ago and has been sitting in my garage awaiting assembly and installation. Steve, K7LXC, came out a few weekends ago to look over the site and gave it the thumbs up. I’ve been accumulating the rest of the materials needed for the install (coax, rotator, antenna, connectors, control cables, thrust bearing, etc.). UPS has been making almost daily deliveries for the past week or two!

TowerPallet Tower sections on delivery pallet

Stockpile Some of the various parts for the project

The major work today is excavation of the 11′ x 11′ x 6′ deep hole for the tower foundation. That’s almost 27 cubic yards of dirt to remove. The work was done using a backhoe–I don’t even want to think how long it would take digging it out by hand. The weather couldn’t have been any better, with clear skies and temperatures in the mid 50s.

Backhoe1 The backhoe arrives with K7LXC at the controls

The backhoe arrived on a trailer, but since our house sits at the top of a steep hill with a few tight switchbacks and no room to turn around at the top, Steve unloaded the backhoe at the base of the hill and drove it up. It was a tight fit around the corner of the house to the site of the tower, but he made it with an inch or two to spare (after removing a fence that blocked access.)

BreakingGround Breaking ground

The dig went quickly with not major issues, except for the “discovery” of the electric wiring to the hot tub you can see in the background. In a battle between a PVC conduit and a few wires, a backhoe will win every time. Just another thing that will need to be fixed some other day.

AlmostDone Almost done

The hole for the tower foundation is about 90% done. All that remains is a little cleanup work to square up the sides and bottom, and then the work of putting the five foot tower base section down in the hole and the building of the rebar cage can begin. Speaking of the base section, it looks like this:

Base1 Base section sitting on its side in the garage

That’s all for today. More to come as the project progresses.


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