Finally, noise sources are usually
strongest closer to the ground. All
that network and computer gear plus
switching power supplies, motors, and
lighting ballasts can raise the noise floor
by many decibels. By raising the antenna
away from the sources, the combined
strength will be greatly reduced. That
improves signal strength and most
importantly, the signal-to-noise ratio or
SNR. Higher SNR means less noise and
lower BER (bit error rate).
So, you’ve made the decision to
move on up. What options do you
have? There are a wide range of antenna
supports for temporary to permanent
installations. Let’s start with the little ones and move on to
the big ones.
Lightweight and Portable Supports
Push-up masts have been used for TV antennas
and small vertical antennas for decades. The primary
manufacturer these days is Rohn Products, LLC (www.
rohnnet.com/rohn-telescoping-masts) and Easy Up, Inc.
( www.easyupinc.com) Masts are available from 20-50 feet
in height. The base of the mast can be on the ground or on
a building; they aren’t particularly heavy. You raise them by
extending each telescoping section one at a time.
“Push-ups” are not self-supporting! They require two or
three sets of guy wires so you have to place them where
symmetrical guy points are accessible. You won’t be able
to climb the mast, so you have to be satisfied with limited
aiming capabilities for the antenna, twisting the mast back
and forth a bit. High-gain antennas with very narrow beam
patterns can be difficult (and frustrating) to aim and keep
aimed properly on push-ups.
If you have space on a building roof, a tripod mount
may be a better choice. These self-supporting structures
are anchored to the building. The “tripod” can have three
or four legs. Masts up to 10 feet above the tripod can be
installed. Light-duty tripods are great for everything from
small vertical antennas and beams to small dishes.
Some tripods are designed for
temporary installations with the base held
down by heavy weights. They’re available
from a number of sources; just search for
“tripod antenna mount” and you’ll find
quite a few.
A step up from the lightweight tripods
are the roof-mount towers that can
handle taller masts and larger antennas.
There are several manufacturers, such as
those listed at www.antennapartsoutlet.
com and the larger ham radio distributors.
Self-supporting, these are also attached to
the structure. The larger the antenna, the
more careful you need to be with your
design engineering! You can also buy
special bases for guyed lattice towers discussed in the next
You’ve probably seen crank-up portable towers on
the vans or trailers used by emergency communication
groups and broadcasters. These are great for portable use
(not while in motion!) if you have the budget and a suitable
trailer or vehicle. The telescoping tubular or lattice-work
sections are lifted with a cable or compressed air.
These are much heavier than push-up masts and can
support even large dishes and medium-size Yagi beams.
Heights of up to 70 feet are available and the tower must
be mounted on a substantial base. A rotator can be
mounted on the tower for aiming the antenna.
For fixed permanent installations — whether ground
mount or rooftop — the standard is a steel or aluminum
lattice tower. These have three tubular or angle legs
with Z- or cross-braces. The standard section is 10 feet
long and sections are bolted together. The primary US
manufacturers (along with Rohn; see previous reference)
are Universal Towers ( www.universaltowers.com) and
Aluma Towers ( www.alumatower.com).
Guyed towers are the most common for hams and
commercial use. Rohn 25 (steel construction, 11-1/4” on
a side) is a very popular tower type for small and medium
antennas. Guyed towers can also be
attached to the side of buildings with a
bracket. Self-supporting towers taper
with increasing height and rely on a
heavy base to keep them upright. Lattice
towers can be climbed and provide
the most flexible mounting and aiming
Crank-up lattice towers are a top-of-the-line solution for antenna supports,
Post comments on this article and find any associated files and/or downloads at
Permits and Inspections
In urban and suburban settings, you’re probably required to have a permit to
put up anything bigger than a small satellite dish or TV antenna. Most permitting
processes are fairly straightforward. Complying with building codes can also
avoid problems you aren’t aware of. You may be required to get your installation
inspected as well. While this can be an annoyance, it’s still the law. Your personal
and homeowner’s insurance may require that permits be in order too.
Having put up a fair number
of antennas myself, I can attest
that there are many details of
which an inexperienced person
is unaware. This can result in
expensive mistakes or injuries.
If you aren’t familiar with the
materials or the techniques, get
help from a mentor. If a mentor
isn’t available, use a professional
and watch how they work.
May/June 2018 19