We’ve long had a dream where we could have better coverage on our Amateur Radio repeaters. With more than 100 users on our roster, we’ve often felt that we were unable to serve everyone with such limited coverage. This month, we made some improvements that will hopefully make life easier for our users. Last October, we got an incredible buy on some Rohn 55G tower on Craigslist. We managed to get 14 sections of it. I only wanted five sections for my own ham radio tower to replace the one that I had to take down when we sold our house. With 14 sections, I was able to get my five and have nine left over. In this picture you can see all 14 of them.
With nine extra pieces, we were able to install them as the W5DEL repeaters new home. There was a lot of work that had to be done over the months but as of this past week, the nine sections are now standing though we don’t have any antennas on it yet. We are going to get new antennas and new hard line coax so that it is a fully new antenna system once complete. When this is done, both repeaters should have a significant improvement in signal.
In this picture you can see the entire tower fully assembled on the ground with W5QO standing beside it. It took weeks in our limited time to get this assembled on these blocks. We had to move some transmission lines, cable lines, guy wire anchors, etc so that we could lift the tower without hanging it up in anything.
This picture shows the crane raising the tower. I have to admit that it was pretty scary at this point. While the crane was lifting, W5QO and I had to drag the bottom North so that we could get it passed the power lines without being in the way. This crane operator was clearly a professional as he was able to make the most minor adjustment during the lifting process without having it jerked around while trying to install the mounting bolts.
Here is another view of the crane holding the tower upright while we attached the guy wires. I can’t say enough about the professionalism of this crane operator.
This was a true test as to how out of shape I have become. I have climbed countless towers over the years and in this picture, I had to climb 65 feet to disconnect the crane but I felt like I had been beat up in a fight when I was done. I am so glad that I had a safety harness so that I could stop and rest my arms.
This picture shows our tower crew, from left to right, myself (K5GLH), My dad (W5QO) and my cousin Larry (KD5MAF). This was a tough job and we had a sense of satisfaction while completely wore out. I know it sounds strange to say we were tired after a crane did all the lifting but there was much more to the job than that. We had to strategically run the guy wires through many utility lines while maintaining safety. The tower could not be lifted straight up because of the same thing. It took some manual moving back and forth to get it up without hitting any obstacles in the limited space. My dad and I have installed several towers over the years and this was the first time we have ever used a crane. In the past we used a gin pole but in this job, the tower was just too heavy as a 55G and we knew that a crane would make more sense over lifting section by section.
Finally, this was taken the next day from the bottom looking up once the clouds cleared. We are very proud of this project as it was only a dream not too long ago. Even after we got the sections, I was still not that confident that we’d ever get it up because it is just an expensive project. There is much more involved than just getting some sections of tower.
In this picture, you can see the guy wires were still drooping a bit. We waited until the next day to snug them up and cut them do size. We had about 10 feet extra per side that we left to give us room to play. The guy wires have high quality turn buckles and clamps that are much larger than what was required by the Rohn specification. It will take a tornado to take this down. The foundation, support structure were all exceeded by the Rohn spec. The Del City Amateur Radio Society (DCARS) has always been non profit, never collected dues from any of its members so we are very proud of what we have done with our own funds. Our trustee, W5QO has put thousands of dollars into this club over the years. He has put countless hours into building repeaters, fixing old ones and keeping everything running. The two IRLP nodes require separate external IP addresses so he has maintained a super fast Internet service with multiple external IP addresses for many years. We owe a lot to his contributions. While I have put together a few computer projects, it is W5QO that has been the real driver to keeping this club going over the years.
I am very proud of my dad and all that he has done for this project and the club in general. Larry, was also a huge help in the project and also took most of these pictures. The install went pretty fast and we didn’t have a lot of time to stop and take pictures but Larry managed to get some good shots during the project. While the project is not yet complete, such as antenna installations, we just wanted to share the progress so far. We hope that soon, all of the users will enjoy better coverage of the repeaters around the Oklahoma City metro area and beyond.