Amateur Radio – Success Stories



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Bob’s Great Antenna Adventure

Planning for the next antenna is something that almost every amateur starts as soon as the last one has been put up. For many of us, a Yagi beam on a tower remains an elusive dream. Here’s my brief story. I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. After many years of shortwave radio listening, I obtained my amateur radio license when my wife and I moved to California in 1988. I now hold an Extra class ticket but have kept my original call, N6RFM. Many thanks to my Elmer, Mal, WA2UNP, for getting me actively involved.

What began as a wire around the ceiling of a condo soon became a roof-mounted Cushcraft R5 and W9INN dipole spanning our postage stamp sized backyard in San Carlos, CA. While living in the Bay Area, I had also experienced first hand the frustration and disappointments of my close friend Jimmy, WD6CJB, in his quest to erect a beam in Foster City, CA. Ultimately, the not-in-my-back-yard types prevailed in that city of CC&R’s after endless court battles and anguish for my friend. Any aspirations for a tower were greatly diminished.

Here on the East Coast, I was satisfied with a Carolina Windom up at 50 feet for over six years. It’s a great antenna and still up. But we always seem to be planning the next antenna… 

In California, I was a also member of the South County ARES group. Local annoyances such as mud slides, fires and earthquakes favor the well prepared. Here on the East Coast, with the help of K1VSG, I became active in ARES and RACES. I am currently the RACES Operator for the Town of Northborough, a Worcester County Fire Disrict 7 RACES Officer, and an ARRL Public Information Officer for Central Worcester County. Being an active participant in emergency communications can be a major factor in obtaining the required permits. A letter of recommendation from local Civil Defense on town letterhead helped me a great deal. All hams should participate in emergency communications preparedness at some level. Get started!

I’m an avid DX’er and love contesting. Joining the Yankee Clipper Contest Club was a logical and fun step. Surrounded by numerous (and many well known) DX’ers and contesters in the YCCC, it wasn’t long before thoughts about a new antenna began to take shape. In addition to your local Elmer’s, the TowerTalk reflector is a great source of advice. After months of asking questions and considering options, I decided to erect a fifty foot high Rohn 25G tower with a Force 12 C4 beam at the top. This tower will support “future growth”. HI.

The project took almost a year to complete:

  • September, 1997 – Town of Northborough proposes one year moratorium on communications towers Residents vote to accept this proposal at a Special Town Meeting (My amendment to exclude amateur towers from the moratorium passes) 
  • November, 1997 – Begin to develop strategy to obtain the “Building Permit” 
  • February, 1998 – Discuss plans with Building Inspector 
  • March, 1998 – Application for Special Permit 
  • April, 1998 – One year tower moratorium becomes law (amateur radio towers exempted !) 
  • April, 1998 – Hearing before Zoning Board of Appeals 
  • June, 1998 – Special Permit Granted; Apply for Building Permit 
  • August 17, 1998 – Building Permit Granted 
  • October 18, 1998 – First QSO Using New Beam Thanks Chai, HS1GNR ! 

“If you decide you need an attorney after the application process has begun, it is probably too late.” 

Anyone applying for a permit to erect a tower is well advised to enlist the assistance of qualified and competent legal counsel. I was fortunate to have K1VR on the case. Thanks Fred. 

Acknowledgements – I am grateful to numerous individuals for their help and encouragement. Most especially, to my lovely XYL, Sheila for “putting up with that nonsense”, my Dad, KV1W, K1VR, W1DXH, W1OJ, KA1CLX, WD6CJB, K1VSG, K6ANN, N1PSE, Mr. Brad Newman (Northborough Civil Defense), W1CSM, K1MBO, KE1FO, WA2UNP, K6ITL and my understanding neighbors! Special thanks to all of my friends in the YCCC, Western Mass ARES and RACES. Thanks also to N1DNU at HRO in Salem, NH and to the folks at Force 12, Texas Towers and Champion Radio Products.