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Man Builds 60-foot Tower to Get Highspeed Access 348

Posted by Zonk
from the overcoming-obstacles dept.
Matt Russell writes "A church was blocking the only high speed signal in town, so he decided he needed to go higher. This is the story of one man's quest to build a 60-foot reception tower in his yard and retire his modem once and for all." From the article: "Well, if you want to have a tower, you need to find one. Buying a new tower is not a good idea, since there are plenty of used ones. In my case, I was in need of a tower that was at least 50', which would cost around $1,000 USD for a new one. The way I searched was pretty simple. I spread the word around town that I was looking for one, and I drove around to see if there was a house with an old TV tower or something like that. If a 30' tower would be enough for you, go to a small town and look for TV tower. If you find one that looks to be in good shape, just go knock on the door and ask if you can buy it. At least 90% of people don't use them anymore, so it's a good place to start! "
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Man Builds 60-foot Tower to Get Highspeed Access

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  • oh (Score:4, Funny)

    by coaxeus (911103) * on Friday March 03, 2006 @07:43PM (#14846982) Homepage
    er, what? Wouldn't GPRS or something be a little more bang for buck ? (no, I didn't RTFA)
    • Re:oh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by coaxeus (911103) * on Friday March 03, 2006 @07:46PM (#14847005) Homepage
      okay read it a bit.. "and not when everyone around me, just far enough away from the church, would have it." .. "I would build a sixty-plus foot tower so I could intercept the signal! " Why not buy one or two $30 wireless routers and a directional antenna and share with a neighbor that isn't behind a church then. Honestly.
      • Re:oh (Score:5, Funny)

        by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:03PM (#14847099)
        Why not buy one or two $30 wireless routers and a directional antenna and share with a neighbor that isn't behind a church then.
        Honestly


        Spoken like a woman who doesn't understand that the measure of a man's true worth is the size of his tower.
        • I at was 7-11 this morning when a guy got pissed off at a store clerk and followed him outside arguing. His wife said, "Does he want to go back to prison? Only a stupid man would go back to prison!" The other store clerk replied, "Not unless he's homesick."
      • Re:oh (Score:2, Funny)

        by jzeejunk (878194)
        but then you don't make it to the coverpage of slashdot :p
      • It's not that hard to find friends (usually, a friend's workmate's friend, etc, etc) who can agree to have an antenna on their roof. Usually, just giving them a sliver of bandwidth or even just a rebate in purchasing that sliver off you will make them agree.

        And then you'll find yourself to be the main ISP in your town :p
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 03, 2006 @07:44PM (#14846985)
    In Scouts we used to lash wood together to build structures. A forty foot tower is not hard to build this way.
    • HOWTO: (Score:5, Funny)

      by Philip K Dickhead (906971) <folderol@fancypants.org> on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:00PM (#14847085) Journal
      O.K., so I read this. The howto can be summarized thusly-

      1: Have a Father in the building trades

      2: "Dad, help!"
    • How many years could one expect lashed together wood to survive the elements? For this DIY project you want something solid that's going to last for many years exposed to the elements (rain,snow,ice,wind,and sun) and not fall down and destory property, or kill somebody,
    • At sixty feet you start worrying about wind knocking things down, wood rotting and the simple fact that its a fire hazard. Also, wood is fine for short term use, but considering this guy is thinking about keeping the tower up for years, wood isn't going to cut it.
      • by rspress (623984) on Friday March 03, 2006 @11:38PM (#14848124) Homepage
        This guys tower is going to come down the first time it is iced over and the wind blows strong. The weak point of the tower is the welded base plate. The place where the tower meets the ground will have the strongest amount of stress on it. It will be stress pushing in one direction. If he uses guy wires it will be even worse. It will be a twisting motion at the base. As far as I can tell, the site was not slashdot ready, he never used rebar to make a cage for the base. If he never took the tower completely apart there could be other weak points he does not even know about. His story should be a primer of how not to erect a tower.

        I had a 48 foot rohn tower I used for Amateur radio use and it was a tad overloaded. My hole was more of a polygon than a square and besides a very strong rebar cage for the base and the tower legs which were sunk 3 feet into the concrete, I used a little over two yards of concrete. This may sound like overkill but with the tower load I wanted it strong. Good thing. We had some of the strongest pacific storms after that tower went up. It took winds in excess of 100MPH. That wind uprooted orchards in our area and knocked over a few towers. Mine was hardly moving.
        • My father built a tower for a fellow amateur radio enthusiast about 20 years ago. The pivot for the tower was welded onto a thick steel tube (originally for a petrol station sign - way overkill, the wall thickness was around 10mm) with a big steel plate welded to the bottom. The foundation was cast with ragbolts to bolt the tower to, then more concrete was poured in on top putting the mounting plate in the middle of a couple of cubic metres of concrete.

          It's survived 20 years of Scottish winters quite happ
          • It sounds like your father did more than this person did. The wind load on the type of tower this person has is quite a lot. The connection to the base is but one thing wrong with it. He used no rebar in the base. He has several different concrete pours instead of just one with no rebar connecting the layers. He has a high water table and he put no gravel in the base for drainage when the table drops.

            I am a ham radio person myself. I know a lot of people in the radio business who do towers for a living. The
    • Ah, but would it meet code?
  • News at 11 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Slash Veteran (561542) <slashvet@hotmail.com> on Friday March 03, 2006 @07:44PM (#14846987)
    Man installs TV aerial

    plans to install new mailbox and gutters next weekend

    details at 11
    • by Guppy06 (410832)
      No! The Honeydew List is supposed to be write-only memory! You're not supposed to actually do any of the things written on it!
  • Ahem (Score:2, Funny)

    by anonicon (215837)
    I for one welcome our new pickup truck, towerbearing oooooooooooverlords. :-)
    Chuck
  • by skidv (656766) on Friday March 03, 2006 @07:48PM (#14847016) Homepage Journal
    I didn't see the protocol (was it wifi?) in the article, but why not ask the church to put a repeater in their tower in exchange for setting up their computer to access the same ISP?

    Another case of over engineering the solution to the problem.
  • Man: [uibk.ac.at] Well I've always said, There's nothing an agnostic can't do if he really doesn't know whether he believes in anything or not.
  • Rohn 25 (Score:3, Informative)

    by smnolde (209197) on Friday March 03, 2006 @07:49PM (#14847024) Homepage
    Buy some used rohn 25 or similar at a ham radio hamfest or swapfest. The tower comes in 10 foot sections and is self supporting to 60 feet. Put half a section in a yard of cement and go up from there. A hinge bracket at the bottom rocks all.

    And if you have more money to spend get a Hazer system [isohunt.com] so you don't have to climb the tower to get your antennas to the top.

    • Yep. That's what I did when I needed a tower. Worked great! Got my no-fear-of-heights friend to climb the tower and aim the antenna.
    • Self supporting to 60 feet? Bullshit!!!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Methinks you posted the wrong file:
      File: Bangbus - Episode 53 - Ritta.mpg

    • Re:Rohn 25 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tcgroat (666085) on Friday March 03, 2006 @10:02PM (#14847746)
      Rohn 25G topwers on hinged bases [radiancorp.com] are not self-supporting at any height. They must always be guyed or bracketed to a building.


      Also, since he mentioned paying Canadian dollars for it, ice loading will limit the self-supporting height [radiancorp.com]. With 1/2" ice load the best you can do is 20 feet, in a low wind area and a small antenna. Even in a mild climate, the safe limit for self-supported 25G is 40 feet.


      Do what the manufacturer says. They know where the failure point is. Overloaded towers will fail, it's a matter of when--not if.

  • by Tx (96709) on Friday March 03, 2006 @07:51PM (#14847031) Journal
    Personally, I'd have knocked down the church instead. Less practical, but infinitely more satisfying.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I willing to bet the church wanted nothing to do with a tower. Those pastors know how much porn would be flowing through that thing.

      "Heres the church, heres the steeple, broadcasting sodomy to all the people."
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'm agnostic. I'm not sure if I want to demolish the church or not.
      Sometimes it seems like a good idea, other times ... not so much.
    • by Surt (22457) on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:06PM (#14847122) Homepage Journal
      That's the solution they've been trying in Alabama, but people keep repairing the churches and putting out the fires.
    • A man is trying to build a bar in a location that happens to be one block from a conservative church. The pastor of the church asks his congregation to pray that God intervene and prevent the bar from being built. Sure enough, the next day, the partially-constructed bar burns to the ground. The bar owner takes the church to court, where the pastor's lawyer argues that the church wasn't directly responsible for the fire. The judge replies, "Seems to me that the bartender believes more in the power of God tha
  • Karma whore (Score:5, Informative)

    by LordSnooty (853791) on Friday March 03, 2006 @07:52PM (#14847032)
    It's dying already.... Coral cache [nyud.net]
  • Planning? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by megla (859600) on Friday March 03, 2006 @07:54PM (#14847050)
    That's some impressive DIY.
    However, in my country (the UK), you can't just slap up something like that without going through an extremely tedious planning consultation with the local authority - usually your city or district council. This is both expensive (all has to be nice and legal etc) and time consuming. If you put it up without planning, you can apply for retrospective planning permission, but if it's refused then you have to tear it down (or the men in suits come do it for you). Quite a deterrant to similar DIY projects.
    What sort of approval (if any) is needed for this sort of thing stateside?
    • My thoughts too. In the states you have to check local zoning. That's usually at the city or county level, but to be safe check to make sure the state doesn't care. Then at the lower levels you may have community covenants or home owner's associations. It's not impossible though. In Springfield, VA where I grew up there was a ham who had some towers on his property not much smaller than this. His neighbors must have hated him, but it was all legal. It may have been grandfathered in from before though

    • btw the article submitter was in canada not the USA.
    • In many places in the USA, if it's below a certain maximum height, you don't need permission. If it's above that height, you may need more paperwork.

      Zoning commissions also need a better reason than "I think towers are ugly" to deny a permit, or they can get in trouble with the FCC, which regulates telecommunications at the federal level.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 03, 2006 @09:33PM (#14847617)
      Seeing that he lives in a tiny town with less than 2000 people in Canada I think the official process of obtaining a license to build a 60 feet tower in his back yard consists of the following steps:

      Pick up phone and call the local Mayor
      "Hey Bobbeee, I'm aboot to build a huge ass tower in my backyard. Can I get permission?"
      "Only if you buy me some beer eh"
      "Righto"
    • Re:Planning? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      Impressive? Ham radio operators have been doing it for more than 50 years now. NOTHING that he did was new, innovative or interesting in any way. Ham radio operators always knew that you can get free antenna towers by knocking on a door and asking "I'll take down that ugly tower for you for free." Anyone paying for a used old tower is nuts. And everything else he did was plain old silly. He could have easily dont it by cooperation with the owner of the WIFI signal he was trying to steal and a pair of
  • Two Points (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Trip Ericson (864747) on Friday March 03, 2006 @07:55PM (#14847053) Homepage
    1. In the discussion over on Digg, it was noted that he was able to build this cheaper than most would because he had "connections."

    2. To those asking if this is Wi-Fi, it could be what I have. I'm not sure what it is, but it operates on the 900MHz band (I know, my cordless phone destroys the internet). I have a UHF Yagi in the attic pointed at a tower at the elementary school 3 miles away. The signal barely makes it over a hill in front of my house to get it. But I'm not complaining, I get 1Mbps both ways (128kb uploads, 128kb downloads) with it and it's neither a telco nor a cable co.
  • by Pugzilla (946437) on Friday March 03, 2006 @07:56PM (#14847056)
    I hate when the church does that
  • The Code Enforcement Officer will be out next week to fine him for the zoning violation.
    • I put a 50' tower up here [acme.com] and nobody complained.
      • In my town, the max limit for a private residential antenna tower is 75' and above that you have to apply for a special permit and buy and maintain at minumum half a million dollars liability insurance for the tower and name the city as a beneficiary of the policy.
  • Lightning protection (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tiger4 (840741) on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:00PM (#14847082)
    I saw he put a grounding line on the thing, and a ground rod. But Something that tall and close to an inhabited structure should really have a heavier line that goes right to the top. Lightning will fry that #6 conductor pretty fast, and then where will it want to run? Oh, by the way, he has thoughtfully provided a fortuitous conductor that leads directly into his computer! Two words, " lightning arrestor "

    And I wasn't too thrilled with his weld quality either. Looks like it was showing rust in the picture. And the bottom plate looked like it would hold water, not shed it. Overall, I'm not sure I'd want it next to my home.
    • Lighting rods don't necessarily conduct all of the lightning's current. One idea is that they conduct some current and ionize the air around them -- then the bulk of the current flows through that ionized air (just like the ionized air lightning usually flows through). Another theory is that they work to prevent lightning. [duke.edu] This is one of those things that has led to much debate [straightdope.com].
    • is in case his town is visited by an evil Circus.
    • Overall, I'm not sure I'd want it next to my home.

      But I'll bet he just claims he wants it for highspeed access. More likely, he's hoping he can luck out and get super-powers next time there's a lightning storm.
  • by cowmix (10566) <mmarchNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:01PM (#14847089) Homepage
    I built a solar powered repeater for my Internet access. Where is my cookie?!

    http://cowmix.com/solar6/compressed/ [cowmix.com]
  • ...what some people will do to get their broadband - but I understand it. I wasn't here at the school 3 days before I was hanging out a 3rd story window running CAT 5 to my apartment.

    On another note, I wonder what you do to ground this sort of thing. I mean, we can get some pretty strong lightning here. How do you keep lightning from destroying your computer/wireless equipment in this case?

    • Cat 5 usually handles surges fairly well... If you do have a problem it usually blows the port that you are connected to on each end but not the actual unit... This is where cheap 24 port hubs come in ;P
  • So he digs a 7-foot deep hole, using a backhoe, without even consulting the local utility companies? Right next to a commercial building no less. The jerk is lucky he didn't hit gas or sewer mains...

    • Really the only good way to dig a hole, actually.
      I don't know what the number is in canada, but 800-dig-safe gets you to a office where the utilities will mark out your property. Works great and it's the law.

      Although, I'm much more scared about his globby welding.
      Yikes.
  • by Zaurus (674150)
    Four whole pages with pictures, and NO PICTURE OF THE TOWER?

    I want my $0 back.
  • by roman_mir (125474) on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:19PM (#14847216) Homepage Journal
    so what happened in the next few weeks?
    (multiple choice questions)
    A. The church was blown up in a terrorist attack.
    B. The churche's tower was raised by 60 more feet to get the honest christ followers closer to their god.
    C. Rogers finally started providing cable Internet at that location.
    D. FBI came to the guy's house with various questions on the suspicious activity and took the tower as material proof from the possible crime scene.

    or

    E. A bunch of angry construction workers burned the house down for stealing all that cement, cement rings and the freaking tower? :)

    ---

    Really, the story should've been called "A man finds a way to get a whole bunch of stuff for free and installs a tower in the meanwhile."
  • Wuss! (Score:4, Funny)

    by davidc (91400) <davidc&ccmi,salk,edu> on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:21PM (#14847230)
    50 foot tower?

    Pah!

    He should'a installed a space elevator in his yard. Advantages: antenna can be positioned at any altitude, communications with access points, police, aliens, etc. rendered easy. Pays for itself from orbital launch fees. Can be covered with tasteful beanstalk for camouflage.

    Aliens? Where's that nanotube hat of mine?
  • We've been doing this for 6 years now [kansas.net]. We built a 70ft tower to get a lawyer here in town on, and this tower was built ON HIS ROOF, guide cables and all. All that, just so he had low ping times to one of the greatest Quake II servers ever, quakeII.kansas.net.
  • Good job sticking it to God. And when he tries to strike you down with a Thunderbold, your tower will save you!
  • by Nethead (1563) <joe@nethead.com> on Friday March 03, 2006 @09:05PM (#14847481) Homepage Journal
    I'll have to submit this to some of the ham radio boards. I bet those guys never thought of putting an antenna high in the air!


  • I'm talking about those big honkin' surge protectors like the power company uses that attach to a ground stake and the coax feedline runs through it. He also better have a good quality grounding system. All towers get hit by lightning sooner or later. Yessir. The nail that sticks up gets pounded.

  • Some random guy came over to our house about 5-6 years ago after my dad moved out and asked about our tower that my dad didn't bother to take with him. He told us that he'd take it to his house and check it out and make sure it still worked and give us a price etc. We haven't heard from him since. But anyways, he must be pretty lucky: I've been using this service for quite some time without any problem. Rain and storms do not affect the speed in any way I could notice. Our old antenna (not the one mentio
  • I did this as well (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ksm2552 (958809)
    I built a 62 foot tower in my yard to connect to buddy with high speed access. Just when we about to start his tower, they ran cable-internet done my road. I was pissed, yet happy at the same time. Still out about $800 though.
  • by antdude (79039)
    It reminds me of an episode (can't find it) where these guys built a tower made out of various pieces. Maybe this guy is doing the same. [grin]
  • by danimrich (584138) on Friday March 03, 2006 @09:35PM (#14847630) Homepage Journal
    Getting high speed internet was the most challenging experience in my life. That guy needs a life!
  • Perhaps from students of a top engineering school [about.com].

    Go Aggies.

  • I live in a rural part of the country, and had to put up an 80ft tower to get crappy WiMAX connection.

    So, WHERE'S MY SLASHDOT ARTICLE, BITCH?!
  • by Alethes (533985) on Friday March 03, 2006 @10:10PM (#14847784)
    I'm in a rural part of Ontario with no cable or DSL and several of us in this area have 50 foot towers so we can get high speed access. It's an expensive option, but if nothing else is available, you do what you have to do.
  • by leighklotz (192300) on Friday March 03, 2006 @10:11PM (#14847788) Homepage
    Geeks are [smu.edu] more [cox.net] hams [n1ik.com] every [championradio.com] day [force12inc.com] with their antenna [ab5k.net] farms [sommerantennas.com].

    Try reading about tower review [eham.net], or join in on Tower Talk [contesting.com].

    Better yet, get a ham license [arrl.org]. The technician test isn't even that hard [qrz.com].
  • Good Old Boy... (Score:4, Informative)

    by skogs (628589) on Friday March 03, 2006 @10:14PM (#14847807) Journal
    Good old boys should sometimes stay inside watching tv, then get up and go to the bar.

    The new splash of paint he put on was indeed absolutely mandatory - corrosion Control is a big deal in towers. You must grind off all the rust you can find, and place a good sealing paint meant for this purpose on it, completely cover everything. Use galvanized bolts, and preferably inspect them occasionally. I know its hard at home, but it should be done at least every few years so that you don't end up with a tower section in your living room.

    Lightning rods....Lightning rods don't keep your tower from being hit. In fact they increase the likelyhood of them getting hit as it brings 'the ground' closer to the cloud that is making the big booms. The point of a lighting rod is to provide a path of least resistance for all those lightning strikes so that it goes to ground through the damn rod instead of through your computer equipment.

    Erg. Simpletons.
  • by puzzled (12525) on Friday March 03, 2006 @10:41PM (#14847906) Journal

        I want you slobbering wireless fanboys to listen carefully.

      Used towers are dangerous. You can get stitches and broken bones handling one 10' section of new Rohn 25 if you don't have competent help. A fall from 6' can be fatal, a 'lucky' fall from 20' is still going to leave you with a lifetime of disability. Towers are not a permanent fixture. Even with care they rust and they get metal fatigue if they're not properly braced or guyed. No professional will reuse tower components without a careful visual inspection and most will just say no unless its the smallest cross section segments like Rohn 25 (12" face) and they're not going back up in a large configuration.

        If you get it down and home with all of your toes and fingers intact you've still got to get it erected. A proper base is an art - see a prebankruptcy Rohn catalog for details. You need to calculate the wind load for the size of antenna you'll use and make sure you're using appropriate guying or bracing for the given load.

      The tallest building I've ever had to service was 634'. The tallest facility I've ever had to manage was 485'. The tallest tower I've ever personally climbed was 300'. The tallest I've ever specified myself and helped install was 60'. The tallest water tower I've ever worked was 135'. The most I've done in the last year was an install at 55' on a 185' Penrod 30. The only experience I don't have is dealing with cylindrical cellular type towers.

      Stating my experience should shut down the cantenna artists who just became tower recycling gurus by reading that article twice, but I'm at a loss as to how to say this so that I won't get someone saying "Aren't you special?". I am special in the scheme of Slashdot, because I talk about things I do rather than things I fantasize about doing.

        So much for my resolution to never, ever respond here again.

    • by NoMaster (142776) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @12:37AM (#14848363) Homepage Journal
      Hear, hear. (Sorry, but I'm right with you on the "talk about things I do rather than things I fantasize about doing" thing.)

      But, did you read the article? The fsckin' tower itself is the safest bit of the whole project! It might be 30+ years old, exposed to the canadian weather, and been knocked around by trucks in the back yard of his father's workplace, but I'd trust it a damn sight more than I would his built-over-several-weeks-out-of-waste-concrete base, his made-from-old-leftover-gal-plate baseplate home welded to the base of the tower, or the 3 bolts and 6 nuts which hold it in midair (look carefully - the baseplate doesn't touch the concrete slab).

      Not to mention that the hole filled with water in 12 hours - he's got a serious problem with his soil stability right there.

      Personally, I'll wait for the story telling how the bolts broke, the welds cracked, the baseplate tore, the slab delaminated, or the whole thing floated out of the ground and fell over...

  • by etzel (861288) on Friday March 03, 2006 @11:13PM (#14848016)
    Just another example of how religion gets in the way of technology...
  • oooooo (Score:5, Informative)

    by Atilla (64444) on Friday March 03, 2006 @11:34PM (#14848101) Homepage
    we do this on a regular basis for customers with lots of foliage and who are desperate to get broadband. this is actually very common.

    we found that it's cheaper and safer to have someone (e.g your power company) plant a wooden pole. we've had customers that buried a 60 ft (and a couple of times 70-ft) wooden pole 10 feet in the ground, with some concrete around it, and they've never moved since. you can get a set of pegs to do about 3-4 poles for around 90 bucks, with a tool to drive them in. it helps if you know what you're doing and have some climbing experience, of course.

    we also have a couple of customers that have guyed and non-guyed masts and tri-poles up to 70 ft.... people will do strange shit for high speed porn.

    the worst part is having to do routine maintenance and realignments, just cause it's time consuming and wears you out.

    another neat tower design is the kind that "breaks over" close to the ground, and has a counterweight. you can fold it over, install your gear, and straighten it back up.
  • by deanpole (185240) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @05:43PM (#14851106)
    My buddy posted photos of the 96 foot tower he installed [kr2020.com].

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