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Welcome to Amateur Radio Station K6ATZ  •  ex KQ6MM, KD6ALY and WN2SWQ  •  First licensed 1973, relicensed 1991
QTH Cupertino, CA USA  •  Santa Clara County   ARRL Section SCV   CA QSO Party SCLA  •  CQ3   ITU6   Grid CM87xh



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Joe Tracker's Station:

MA-40 Antenna Tower Project

OB6-3M on towerThis is the story of an MA-40 rotatable crank-up antenna tower in Cupertino, CA, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Ham towers are a longstanding tradition here so city permit staff didn't even bat an eye, although if I'd gone above 55' they might have wanted to have a conversation.

US Tower is also in California, so our local building department was happy with their engineering stamp too. And so it began...

June 2010: the foundation

MA-40 or 550 tower foundation dig

The city originally approved a 55' MA-550. I later decided to downsize to the 40' MA-40, but it seemed best to pour the foundation per the original plans: 3.5' wide by 5' deep, which is a half-foot more in each direction than required for an MA-40.

Since we happened to be building a house to accompany the new tower, I had the same concrete company pour the basement and the tower foundation at the same time. Notice the professional rebar work, with a square inside another square.

MA-40 or 550 tower foundation rebar - trimming

In the photo below, you can see a ground wire in the middle of the cage. It connects the bolts and rebar to a nearby ground rod, which is in turn connected to all other grounding points around the home. The tower's bolts are held in place at the top by a wooden pattern provided by US Tower.

MA-40 foundation with bolts in tempalte and ground wire in rebar

US Tower sent the bolts and pattern before the tower arrived, so we could get the foundation poured and dried first. The 3/4" thick MA-40 bolts were the only items changed from the original MA-550 foundation plan which specifies 1" bolts.

The foundation required about 5 yards of concrete. The ground will be built up around this when it's landscaping time. The gray PVC pipes are conduits running from the house for underground coax and control cables.

MA-40 tower foundation finished - top

Work of art, huh?

MA-40 tower foundation - left to dry

Next steps:

Tower delivery and assembly »
Page 2: assembling tower
Mounting beam antenna on tower »»
Mounting the beam
Antennas, cables, rotor, grounding »»»
Antenna, cables, rotator and grounding


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"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat." — Albert Einstein