Tower and antenna costs

A question that comes up periodically is just how much does a realistic tower/antenna setup cost. I also wanted some rough numbers to do a system trade between a "conventional" antenna system and a phased array. After posting a general question on the TowerTalk reflector (http://www.contesting.com/) I received a lot of feedback, most of which is extracted and summarized below.

The original question

I'm writing a short article with some tradeoffs between various approaches to building a station. What's a good ballpark number to use for the cost of buying and installing a typical medium height tower (i.e. say, 50-75 ft, crankup, etc) with a multiband 3 element beam. A quick check of the catalog from HRO and various websites, for instance, shows numbers like:

raw tower+mast+bracketry is going to set you back about $1500-3000
(don't forget you've got shipping, too)
(+ another 1000 if you want a motor to raise and lower it)
rotator at around $500-600
antenna around $500-1000
Cabling (rotator, controls, coax) $200
Installation (digging the hole, buying the concrete, etc.) $500-2500
 (probably towards the high end, unless labor is really cheap)

Totals $3200 - 7300

I realize that one can greatly reduce many of these by clever shopping, scrounging, doing the work yourself (or having a bunch of friends come over for a tower raising party), but, then, you're essentially trading time for money, so I wanted to figure what it would cost if you just paid to have the work done.

I assumed a crankup, because I assumed that your local PRB-1 compliant community will probably impose a "crank up only when in use" requirement. A fixed tower w/guys would be substantially cheaper, purchase wise, but might cost just as much by the time you figure in guys, anchors, additional installation time, etc.

Likewise, regulatory compliance could set you back a substantial chunk of change, depending on where you live (Thousand Oaks, CA had a $1000 antenna permit fee at one time, and may still do, plus the cost of dealing with the hearing).

Responses

Summary

Details

 

Let me add a few things for your consideration.

o Is it realistic to assume only one antenna? Many on this reflector,
myself included, have designed and installed tower systems with one
multiband HF Yagi, a second WARC Yagi, shorty forty, or rotatable dipole,
plus some sort of V/UHF packet vertical antenna.
o If the final tower model includes the above supplementary antennas,
you'll have increased costs for coax cabling. (Say $1/ft, including
connectors, unless hardline.)
o Mast. (Say $5-$10 per foot.)
o Antenna switch. (Say $100-$200 if available used.)
o Conduit system, steel boxes at either end of conduit run. (Say $200)
o Ground rods, ground wire, clamps or other fasteners. (Say $300)
o Trencher rental to open a hole in the dirt for the conduit and ground
wires. (Say $100-$200)
o Concrete can run you $50-$100 per cuyd and self-supporting towers
usually need more than do guyed towers.
o Crane rental to place tower and/or antennas. (Say $100-$300.)

Your estimates may have included these details, but I couldn't tell for
sure. And yes, the estimates you use should be towards the higher end of
your ranges, below.

73 de
Gene Smar AD3F

 

IMHO, the assumption of a crankup puts you in a well-above-average cost 
bracket. The low-end costs you suggest for the tower and installation are 
probably too low for a crankup. If you are trying to show the upper end of the 
cost for a tower of a given height, I think you've made an excellent choice. 
You should probably also show the example of a lower cost guyed or light duty 
free-standing tower and make the point that many bucks can be saved if the ham 
searches for good used hardware and does a lot of the work him/herself.

73,

Jim K1IR

-

My discussion ballpark is $5000 per tower, so your numbers are pretty 
much right on. Phil KB9CRY

-

Four years ago I put in a US Tower 472MDP motorized version, 72 footer, with the remote control option. Between the cost of the tower, about 5k, professionaly dug hole, rebar cage and building permit, plus tower shipping, it cam very close to $10k. Add in a 4L SteppIR yagi and decent rotor, cable and coax and you have another 1750 or so. It ain't cheap, but especially the remote option, so I can lower the tower in storm from inside the shack without having to be at the tower base in a rainstorm or lightning, is very well worth it, I've decided. It alone was about a $1k extra option. Just my experience. Oh yes, I took doen a ROhn 48 foot guyed tower and never looked back.
John (KG6I)
---

-


Having just gone through the process of erecting a 55' crankup, I offer the
following.

1. Here in CA each county has different regulations for towers. In my
area, the tower had to withstand 75mph wind and C exposure. Which in this
case translated to no go for the US Towers TX-455.. I had to go to the
HDX-555. TX-455 = $1,789 to HDX-555 =$2,679. Ouch! Shipping was $380.

2. I hired a concrete contractor to dig the hole, build the rebar cage,
and pour the concrete. This was a $2,800 bill. The digging alone was $800.
And the best $800 I ever spent... they hit hardpan at 3' down. This footing
is a 5' square, 7' deep. That translates to 7 1/4 yards of concrete.

3. Found a local ham with the US Towers erecting fixture... saved $489
that the fixture would have cost. Two of us installed the rotor and mast
and erected the tower. Easiest part of the project.

4. There are two antennas up there (Force 12 XR-5 [20 thru 10, incl.
WARC] and an inverted V for 80/40), plus the rotor. Cabling (150' coax x 2,
and 150' of 8 conductor rotor cable) ran about $200. The rotor was $550.
The XR-5 was $1000 when I bought it. The V (Spi-Ro D-56) was $120.

5. Throw in 3 ground rods (5/8 x 8'), lightning protection for 2 coax
and one rotor cable plus some miscelaneous copper bar and some Kopr-Shield
(This stuff is expensive!) added another $200.

6. Tools: an often forgotten item... 2 - 1 1/8" open end/box wrenches,
an 1 11/16 socket, extension, and drive bar, and a BIG 2" crescent wrench
ran up another $150.

7. I hired an expert to install the constructed antenna... at my age
getting up on top of a tower just isn't in the cards anymore. He did
excellent work.... for another $300.

8. The cost for the building permit was $294.

So: $2,679 for the tower itself
$380 shipping
$2,800 the 'hole' and concrete
$200 cabling
$550 Rotor
$1000 Yagi
$120 Vee
$200 Grounding
$150 Tools
$300 Antenna Installation
$294 Building permit
-----------
$8,673

At the beginning, I had assumed that I'd spend the better part of 10K on
this project... didn't miss that by much. I figure it cost 9K... there
seemed always to be one more bolt, nut, clevis, or a whatchamacallit that
was needed at the last minute.

Don Bozarth
W6DRB

And I forgot 3 items:

Coax Standoff arms $89
Thrust Bearing $119
Mast $212
-------
$420

added to that $8,673 makes $9,193..... closer still to that 10K
guestimate...


 


-------------
That depends. How good of a scrounger are you?

> raw tower+mast+bracketry is going to set you back about $1500-3000 
> (don't forget you've got shipping, too)
> (+ another 1000 if you want a motor to raise and lower it)
> rotator at around $500-600
> antenna around $500-1000
> Cabling (rotator, controls, coax) $200
> Installation (digging the hole, buying the concrete, etc.) $500-2500
> (probably towards the high end, unless labor is really cheap)
>
> Totals $3200 - 7300

Yeesh! I installed my tower and antenna for less than $1000.

Let's see, it broke down something like this:

4 sections plus top section & shelf = 5 x $30 (used) = $150.
2 HD25B brackets = $240. (new)
Ham-M rotator = $50 (broken) + $10 parts = $60
Hardware = $30. (new)
Rebar & Concrete = $150 (new)
Concrete mixer rental = $45
Labor = $0 (me!)
Mast = $0 (thank you K9AY!)
Tribander = $400 (purchased years before)
Cables / Coax = $110
Connectors, wx-proof boxes = $25
Permits = $45

Result - A3S at 15m, on a 44 feet of tower with nearly 6 feet of mast.

> I realize that one can greatly reduce many of these by clever 
> shopping, scrounging, doing the work yourself (or having a bunch of 
> friends come over for a tower raising party), but, then, you're 
> essentially trading time for money, so I wanted to figure what it 
> would cost if you just paid to have the work done.

But, but, but, doing all the work was fun! (well, digging the hole 
wasn't so fun....)

Heck, the re-build of the tribander probably cost me $1000, if I 
charged by the hour...

> I assumed a crankup, because I assumed that your local PRB-1 compliant 
> community will probably impose a "crank up only when in use" 
> requirement. A fixed tower w/guys would be substantially cheaper, 
> purchase wise, but might cost just as much by the time you figure in 
> guys, anchors, additional installation time, etc.

Bracketed tower is a good compromise. All the advantages of guying 
without the expense and massive concrete footings of a crank-up.

> Likewise, regulatory compliance could set you back a substantial chunk 
> of change, depending on where you live (Thousand Oaks, CA had a $1000 
> antenna permit fee at one time, and may still do, plus the cost of 
> dealing with the hearing)

If you write an article saying that even a modest tower will cost $3-7 
large ones, there's a lot of would-be tower builders out there who may 
likely give up the hobby.

Bill Coleman, AA4LR, PP-ASEL Mail: aa4lr@arrl.net 
Quote: "Not within a thousand years will man ever fly!"
-- Wilbur Wright, 1901



---------------
I tend to agree with Bill, Jim. You might want to include a bracketed
Rohn 25 tower as a "low cost" or "entry level" option. I had a very
similar installation to Bill's when I lived in Florida (35' of Rohn 25G
with house bracket mount). I bought new tower sections, but otherwise
my cost structure was very similar to Bill's. IMHO a very good choice
if your looking for a limited budget option.

73 de Mike, W4EF.....................................


 


----
Just thought I'd figure out what it would cost me to duplicate my tower
today, and pass it along. I have 108 ft of Rohn 25, which I bought used.

Figuring on the high side...

11 sections Rohn 25 used including flat top section $660.
Concrete base plate (new shipped) 90.
1000 ft 3/16 guy cable shipped (new) 150.
21 guy insulators @ $6 126.
3 guy anchors (8 inch galv I beams from local highway fence
shop) 105.
Ready Mix concrete (wild guess 100 bags @$2.50) 250.
9 turnbuckles 180.
Misc 100.
Elbow grease 00.
Total $1526.

Note this does not include, rotor, thrust bearings, rotor shelves, mast,
antennas, cable, doctor bills or medication! JACK W1WEF

-


---
Hi Jack,

What about....

1) Guy grips?
2) Equalizer plate x 3?
3) Ice clips?
4) Rebar and wire for the base?
5) Wood and nails for the concrete forms?
6) Rental of the concrete mixer?
7) Visit to the ER for back spasms or herniated disc?
8) Muscle relaxant for your back?
9) Physical therapy?
10) Doctor's bills?

You did say - DUPLICATE your tower today? :-)
I am assuming that you would be doing this manual labor
at your current age. :-)

I'm just poking a little fun at you. :-)

73
Bob KQ2M

-


-----
I build towers commercially and the companies would give you guys a heart 
attack if you ask for pricing on even a small tower. I stack these small 
instals as a hobby but for a price. Anything under 50' is $500 plus . 25 cents per 
mile point to point and two nights stay in lower priced motel (Motel 6) That 
is if the customer is providing "all" materials. Add a hundred dollars per 
section at heights over 50' and probably an extra night in Motel 6. depending 
on how the soil is when we;re digging the base and anchors.


Hope this helps with this 
thread,

Sammy F. Smith 
423-322-1312 270-577-0708

-

----
I'm just an average guy, with family and work commitments. This is what I
have managed to do:

New Universal Aluminum 9-50 Self supporting tower. XYL would have nothing
to do with guys so self supporting was the answer. Couldn't afford a
crank-up, liked the idea of a fold over, so that was what I went with.
Bought it 2 years ago and it sat in my back yard.

KLM-KT-34 that I bought from a guy off of QTH.com 1 year ago. Cleaned it up
and bought the M2 upgrade kit at Dayton.

VHF Vertical that I've had for years.

Alpha-Delta DX-A 40-80 sloper.

Ameritron RCS-4 switch. Bought it new.

HAM 4 rotor and control. Found it at Dayton.



Costs:

Tower, mast, RCS-4, Thrust Bearing, etc.. $1547.50
KLM Antenna 170.00
M2 Upgrade Kit 200.00
Sloper 75.00
Rotor 175.00
Coax, Control Cables, surge protection 375.00
8 Cu Clad 5/8 ground rods 70.00
Ground wire/strap (scrounged) 0.00
Cadweld one shots 72.00
Misc Hardware 75.00
4x4x4 hole (dug it myself) 0.00
Concrete 210.00
Line pump to get the concrete to the hole 270.00
Ditch Witch rental 80.00
PVC, gravel, etc 100.00

Total 3419.00

I know I've forgotten some stuff, so I can safely say that the total cash
outlay is under $4000.00. This has been a project for over 2 years, so
that's about $170.00 a month getting this thing done.

Time is a relative thing, I wasn't in a hurry, and just did it as I had the
time and money.

Just my nickels worth.

73 de KN6RO

-

New hams may be deterred by the prices of new "tribanders" these days, 
$1,000-plus.
Although I have seen a number of new hams who "turn up their nose at" buying 
anything used ... (one "older" ham I knew, who had just gotten his license, 
said, "I've been wanting to get my ham license all my life; I figure I owe 
it to myself to buy something brand new."  He wanted to open the box, take 
the rig out of plastic, etc., get that "new car smell."  It was like 
Christmas Day, to him.) ... anyway, for those who don't want to blow all 
that money just because they can, used tribanders can be a real bargain.  As 
a seller of used tribanders from time to time, I have hauled a lot of them 
to hamfests to have them hardly looked at all day long.  I've found I'm 
lucky to get $150 for a used one and have seen or bought them many times for 
$50 or $75 or $100.

Current or late model tribanders, different story; they sell for closer to 
the new price, though TH7's can go for about $350.  For Force 12, Bencher 
Skyhawks, the SteppIR, they should bring much closer to the new price.  But, 
the beginner hardly needs one of the new, expensive ones; an old TH-3, A-3, 
CL-33, TH-6, TA-33 should be fine for starting -- and a real bargain, and 
simpler to put together, install and rotate.  The A-3, for instance, is a 
very simple antenna -- hard to go wrong with it.  And works well -- that's 
what 5H3TW (K3TW) had when he was very active, and loud, from Tanzania, for 
instance.  And there are other older antennas, though they're rarer -- I 
have a couple Telrex TB5EMs presently and kind of like them.

My contention is that "ham radio has never been more affordable." 
Certainly, now that we have solid state rigs that are several "generations" 
old but still working well -- and of course the excellent pre all-solid 
state ones like the TS-830 -- and considering the "constant dollars" aspect, 
excellent radios are less expensive than ever before.  I expect the same is 
true of antennas and even towers, if you're willing to poke around and find 
one free or cheap.  Oh, and now that so many people have gone cable or 
satellite for their TV, there are many, many towers around, doing nothing, 
just waiting for you to go knock on the door and ask the folks if they want 
it taken down.

A friend of mine in Martinsburg, West Virginia keeps pestering me to come up 
there and go door to door asking if I can have the towers.  It's a TV fringe 
area where every house had a TV tower at one time, but now most have gone 
cable or satellite.
73 - Rich, KE3Q 

-

I am having a 6 foot diameter 9 foot deep footing
put in by a contractor for $4000 for my HDX-5106.
$1000 for a motor is conservative and you have
to put in the AC wiring for the motor, which you
didn't mention.

Rick N6RK


radio/antenna/romcost.htm - 24 Aug 2004 - Jim Lux
(antennas) (radio home page) (Jim's home page)