After many years of enjoying Amateur Radio and participating in various aspect of the hobby. I decided to use some non-amateur skills to enhance the hobby. Our local club, the Sturdy Memorial Hospital Amateur Radio Club of Attleboro MA, has been involved in many volunteer projects. The club provides communications services for several surrounding towns for both Emergency Preparedness and civil functions. Each time, someone seemed to come up with the necessary equipment to fulfill our obligations. I saw a portable tower on a manufacture’s web site and thought, that would be really nice to have for club. The cost… well you can imagine.
One evening another club member and myself were at a local store purchasing some electronic parts when the manager asked if we knew anyone in the club that might be looking for a tower. I asked what he had and when he told me what it was and the price, I decided it was time. I purchased the TriEx 38 foot crank up for $100.00 and brought it to my friend Bill’s(WB1DJM)farm. Bill has the necessary equipment and the space to tackle a project like this. It just so happened that Bill also had a abandoned boat trailer out in his field. Things were up…now, what else would we need?
I having a small graphics design business, decided to draw up the plans for the project. Bill and I took every conceivable measurement that was possible on the tower and the trailer that we needed to begin the drawings. I set to work that evening 5 or 6 hours later the first revision was complete. I brought it over to Bill’s after work the next evening and we hashed over what we needed to do and make some notes. That Saturday, the project was underway… fire up the arc welder, and let’s get going.
Bill happened to have some Industrial Shelving supports that he had acquired years before made out of 2 inch square tubing. These would work perfectly for the uprights. We decided that the tower support only needed to be wide enough for the tower itself, but it would be nice to use the entire width of the trailer. We decided for Field Day purpose, to build the trailer to carry it’s own tower and provide support and space to carry the club’s other towers and antennas to our Field Day operations. This turned out to be a fairly simple task. We measured the needed angles, cut, bent and welded the square tubing to our specs and it all went together very nicely.
Now it was time to start thinking of all the little things. Bill was instrumental in using things that were just there, to make the next stage a reality. We found an old boat trailer winch and used it to crank the tower from horizontal to vertical. Some more of the square tubing was used to make braces to stiffen the trailer to handle its antenna load. The only items that were actually purchased new were the crank up front wheel for the trailer, a new set of trailer lights and number plate bracket, a running light for the back of the tower, and the steel to construct the two outriggers. We used 1-inch gas pipe and 1.5-inch angle iron to make them. Pieces of 2 inch and 1.75-inch gas pipe were used to hinge the outriggers and make the adjustable feet.
After 4 or 5 Saturdays and several late afternoons, it was actually starting to look like the drawings. We mounted the tower on top and built a hinge setup, guides at the back of the trailer, were attached to make sure the tower locked in when it stood up into its full vertical position and bracket were welded on to lock the outriggers to the side for transport. Slick! All we had left were little things like mounting the lights, the number plate bracket and small hardware details. We then purchased and installed a small plastic tool box to store wood blocks for leveling, rope for temporary guy wires and cables. All that was left was to present it to the club. This we did in semi-secrecy, we arrived late for our June business meeting and set it up in the parking lot. We went in to the meeting late and when the subject of “New Business” was brought up, we announced that the club members should step outside and see what just grew up in the back parking lot from the “Magic Beans” that Bill and I had purchased. It was a Big Hit!!!
The business meeting happened to be the week of the Field Day and of course, it was included in our Field Day plans. Our Equipment Manager, K1YWS, towed the unit home with him after the meeting until Field Day weekend. Stan then used the trailer to pick up our three monoband beams and a 50-foot Rohn tower, and transport them one trip to our Field Day site. We dropped off the antennas and the 50-footer where they needed to be and then set up “Magic Beans” in place next to the Rover Station. K1YWS and W1TW mounted a 15-meter Beam on top of the tower and cranked it up with no effort at all. We ran 3 rope guys just to be safe with bad weather forecast for the weekend. The outriggers would have handled the 15-meter beam without the guy ropes, but better safe than sorry! She came down quickly and cleanly as she went up, on Sunday. We already have plans for a local Road Race that we provide communications for, ”Boy Scouts Jamboree On the Air” and some Middle School Science Class Demonstrations in the fall. It was a very worthwhile project and I’d like to thank WB1DJM for the use of his shop, welding equipment and the trailer that holds the whole unit together. Fe…...Fi…...Fo…... Fum…...