Homebrew projects for radio & electronics enthusiasts

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All 11 sections are up, and a few accessories are already installed. The top plate is at 110'. The mast, which is 6061-T6 aluminum, 2" dia. by 0.25" wall, extends 9' above the top plate. The lightning rod is actually a copper-clad ground rod, mounted up-side down (with the point up), and it extends another 7 feet to reach 126' overall. This rod should intercept any lightning strikes and won't explode into a thousand pieces like a fiberglass vertical antenna!

Here's how I started bonding the radials from the lightning ground system to the tower itself. I first cleaned each leg thoroughly using isopropyl alcohol and a Scotchbrite pad. Note that there are two flexible risers for each of the three legs. Next, I squeezed the two sections of tubing with pliers to start the flattening process. I also turned over the ends and crimped them shut with vise-grips.

When copper touches a galvanized part outdoors, it forms a nifty corrosion cell via galvanic action. To prevent this, I am using pieces of thin, stainless steel foil as an intermediate layer. You can also see some antioxidant paste squishing out from behind the foil at the top and between the foil and tubing at the bottom (NoAlox). All stainless hose clamps will provide the necessary clamping action..

To form a perfect contact patch, I lightly peened the edges of the flattened tubing toward the tower, using a hammer. Then I drew up the slack with each hose clamp. I alternated between peening and tightening until I was sure each tube had a very large contact patch for minimum impedance. To finish, I wrapped each joint securely with UV resistant electrical tape to seal in the antioxidant paste and keep out rain from washing it out.

This view shows the rear of the garage where I extended one of the tower grounding legs to tie into the service ground. I excavated a little to find the service ground rods and wire. I extended the 3/4" water pipe along the foundation, parallel to the service ground, under the pad by the door, and up to a stub. There are two additional, 10' ground pipes in this line to beef up the ground before the stub comes up.

Here's a close-up of the tie-in with the service ground. The hose clamp provides the mechanical bond, and the solder makes the electrical bond. It may not look pretty, but so what? It is now buried!

Here's the 40' trench that will carry all the cables between the tower and shack. I am using 4" ABS pipe and a shallow trench. The winters are mild here in VA, so I won't have to worry about frost heaving.
The underground pipe sections are slotted to prevent water buildup, and the sections that rise above the ground are un-slotted to help keep rain out.

Here, I am using an improvised, cardboard shuttle tube to put the dirt 'socks' over the ABS pipe. These will keep dirt and bugs out while allowing any water to drain out.

Next to the rear wall of the house, where the trench ends, I extended the 3/4" copper pipe stub upward toward the right-hand window in the 2nd story shack. There are 8" long stubs every few feet on this riser to which I tied the cables as they go up, adding support. There is a homebrew, grounded entrance panel in the window, bonded by the water pipe riser, where all cables are terminated with bulkhead connectors (separate project).

I cut holes in ABS pipe caps to fit accommodate all the cables and sealed them with putty to keep rain from running down into the pipe. This added a nice, finished look to both ends.

On to tower picture gallery 3

Good luck and have fun with your tower project!


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