Remote HF


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090328 - Was back out there today, taking another look around.  I've scanned in a map I got from the Township.  I've superimposed a line that is  approximately 200 yards long.  This will let me approximate the size of the field I've got to work with, and how far apart I can place the towers, poles and antennas.

090318 - Went in and talked to the Township yesterday.  They have asked that I make a presentation to Council on what my plans are.  I will do that, not asking for permission, but identifying what it is that I plan on doing.  The plans aren't finalized yet, as I need to get into the field and do some more measurements with a Yagi on a portable tower.  I've also put together a bit of a proposal for the brothers that own the farm, and I want to try and get in to see them this weekend, and see if we are on the right track to a workable deal.  I have some concerns about seeing Council - but if I make it clear I am there to tell them what I am going to do, not asking for their permission, it should be ok.

I've been continuing to work on the plans - the size of the 'Pad', interior designs of the shipping containers (C-Cans), stations, how we would position the towers to maximize the directional antennas, as well as where we would position wire antennas.  I think I have worked out two decent beverage antennas running along the fence lines.

We need to get into the field for the next tests, but it is really wet in there.  I took Judy down to see the 'farm' and she met the neighbours, Frank and Bernice, along with their dog Bonnie.  I think they are going to be okay with what we are trying to do with our remote station.  Stay tuned.

090227 - Drove down to the farm at 5:30ish this a.m. with the van.  I had tested the setup on the van and it worked fine last night.  So got down there, and I backed all of the way down the lane, almost to the gate.  There was still an inch or two of snow, so it was a bit difficult getting out of the lane when I was done.  I tuned up on 40 meters, and the band was busy.  Lot of Short Wave stations coming in, and quite a bit of CW.  I found one group of guys talking on SSB, and they were coming in pretty good.  I was paying attention to my conference call, so was more just looking for what the 'S Meter' was doing.  I can't tune 80 meters with the ATAS, but I had a good listen up there.  I went all of the way down to 6 meters.  No noise floor at all.  The international time signal was booming in on two bands.

On the way back from the field, I stopped almost under the power lines.  As expected there was some interference, but it wasn't that bad.  So my hopes are still up that I can make this work.  I'm away for most of the next week, but I'll target next weekend for getting a dipole down there, in the middle of the field and we'll have a listen again.

Nothing heard back from the township yet ;>}}

090226 - My plans have changed for this weekend and I am going to have to fly to Toronto on Sunday.  In addition, my brother Paul has asked me to come to Gibsons to help him with his new house on Friday evening and Saturday morning.  I had planned on going to the proposed site this Sunday and doing a site survey.  Drive out into the field with my jeep and using a vertical antenna, look at the noise floor.  If it looked okay, I would set up a portable dipole and do the same test.  So, knowing I was going to be out of the box on Sunday, I decided late this afternoon that I would take a run out to the field in my car, and using the Yaesu 897D and the ATAS 120 would listen around for the noise floor at the end of the road.  It wasn't a great plan, but it was a plan!

Took a run out there, and got set up.  The darn ATAS wouldn't tune.  The ground on the antenna must be corroded after the winter we have had.  I came home and threw the antenna and the radio in my wife's van, and it immediately tuned up.

So - before I left the proposed site, with the antenna in the full down position (i.e. not tuned)  I listened to 80  meters through 50 Mhz.  There was no noise floor.  Zero, zip, nada.  I heard signals, and listened to the time signal on several different bands, which were booming in.

I've got a 5:45 a.m. conference call tomorrow a.m., which i am going to take in Judy's van heading to the 'Farm'.  I will spend a half an hour listening to various bands and see what the noise floor looks (listens) like.  It was a cold, clear day today.  I'm guessing I was parked about 1 KM from the 500KV power lines.  This won't be a perfect test, but it will give me some clue if I have a problem.  I will have to arrange to get a portable tower into the field, closer to where my proposed installation will be, with a Yagi antenna on it and that will give us a much better understanding of the noise floor.

090125 - Well it has been an exciting couple of days.  I phoned the township and talked to both the Planning and the Building Permits department.  This was obviously a first for them, as I was put on hold a couple of times, and they struggled with my questions on how an Amateur could put up towers on a rural field.  Finally I was told that I should attend at the Township office, and talk to the Planner.  I went down there, and had an interesting conversation.  The Townships position was that there was a policy, which they felt I was subject to.  I asked to see the policy, and pointed out that it applied to 'telecommunications' towers, and was addressed to 'Wireless Carriers'.  I am neither.  They were insistent.   I then pointed out that a tower under 15 Meters for an Amateur Operator was exempt from anything this onerous.  Their position was any tower over 12 meters had to go through a public inquiry.  Did I mention the $1,100 application fee.

I left the Township office less than satisfied.  I sat down and did my homework, and sent the following email to the Township.

XXX - thanks for making the time for me this afternoon, on short notice, to discuss my interest in erecting Antenna Support Structures at a remote farm location in Langley.  You identified a Township policy that Antenna towers over 12 meters need to go before Council.  Can you identify where I can find the exact wording of this policy?

 I have a copy of the Telecommunication Tower Master Plan Policy for the Township of Langley, which was in the Bell permit proposal.  Is that the policy?  If yes, the purpose stated “To set out the means by which public utility tower applications are managed for Council’s consideration” would not apply to me, as this is not a public utility tower.

 Further in the document, under Policy it states “A. Freestanding telecommunication installations are permitted in all zones.”  I would like to draw your attention to the fact that what I intend to put up has nothing to do with telecommunications – it is for Amateur Radio use.  The document further discusses ‘Wireless Carrier’.  I would put to you that this policy does not apply to Amateur Radio Antenna Support Structures, or individual Amateur Radio operators.

 In addition, the new Federal regulations which I referred to can be found at$FILE/cpc2003-issue4e.pdf

I have cut and pasted Section 6 – exclusions, from the regulations.

6. Exclusions

For the following types of installations, proponents are excluded from the requirement to consult with the LUA and the public, but must still fulfill the General Requirements outlined in Section 7:

• maintenance of existing radio apparatus including the antenna system, transmission line, mast, tower or other antenna-supporting structure;

• addition or modification of an antenna system (including improving the structural integrity of its integral mast to facilitate sharing), the transmission line, antenna-supporting structure or other radioapparatus to existing infrastructure, a building, water tower, etc. provided the addition or modification does not result in an overall height increase above the existing structure of 25% of the original structure’s height;

• maintenance of an antenna system’s painting or lighting in order to comply with Transport Canada’s requirements;

• installation, for a limited duration (typically not more than 3 months), of an antenna system that is used for a special event, or one that is used to support local, provincial, territorial or national emergency operations during the emergency, and is removed within 3 months after the emergency or special event; and

• new antenna systems, including masts, towers or other antenna-supporting structure, with a height of less than 15 metres above ground level.

Individual circumstances vary with each antenna system installation and modification, and the exclusion criteria above should be applied in consideration of local circumstances. Consequently, it may be prudent for the proponents to consult the LUA and the public even though the proposal meets an exclusion noted above. Therefore, when applying the criteria for exclusion, proponents should consider] such things as:

• the antenna system’s physical dimensions, including the antenna, mast, and tower, compared to the local surroundings;

• the location of the proposed antenna system on the property and its proximity to neighbouring residents;

• the likelihood of an area being a community-sensitive location; and

• Transport Canada marking and lighting requirements for the proposed structure.

It is my understanding that I qualify under Section 6, and I am excluded from the requirements to consult with the LUA and the public.  I will continue to include the LUA in my discussions (which I believe will be you and your department), per the second part of the Section quoted above.  I will also provide formal notification in writing in the near future.

It is a requirement, as identified in this document, to notify the public in an area three times the height of the antenna.  For this implementation, this will still be in the middle of the field, and there are no neighbours.  In addition, Industry Canada has issued a “Guide to Assist Land-use Authorities Developing Antenna Siting Protocols”$FILE/antennaguide-e.pdf

In this guide they specifically restrict LUA from implementing any exclusion criteria that is more restrictive than what Industry Canada’s Exclusion List (CPC-2-0-03, Section 6).

Excluded antenna structures (i.e. do not require consultation):

Industry Canada believes that not all antenna systems should be subject to a full land-use or public consultation process. Subjecting all antenna system proposals to the full consultation process would place an unnecessary and significant administrative burden on proponents, the LUA and the local public.

Under Industry Canada’s process, certain proposals are considered to have minimal impact on the local surroundings and so are excluded from public and land-use consultation. Industry Canada believes that consultation requirements should be proportional to the potential impact of the proposal, as viewed by the community. When establishing a local protocol, LUAs should consider the types of proposals that have minimal impact and so would warrant exemption from land-use and/or public consultation. It should be noted that any exclusion criteria established by the LUA can only augment those established under Industry Canada’s Exclusion List (CPC-2-0-03, Section 6).

I don’t agree that the Township should be able to say this has to go to Council, impose a $1,100 application fee, and require me to write a costly and detailed report, and endure a public inquiry for something that is federally regulated and for which I am already licensed.  In addition, the requirement for a structure over 12 meters to go before council, when Industry Canada has indicated structures under 15 meters are exempt from this process, is not right.  This would be, in my opinion, the equivalent of exclusionary zoning.  The Township is making the process for approval too onerous for the average Amateur Radio operator, holding them to a standard expected of a Wireless Carrier or communications company earning many billions of dollars per year.

I, along with many of my fellow Amateur Radio operators, are heavily involved in Emergency communications for both the Township and the City.  We give significantly of our time, our equipment and our knowledge without compensation of any kind.  These Antenna Support Structures are an integral part of our ability to provide communications in the event of a natural or man made disaster. 

In addition, a group of us are working closely with VANOC on Special Event stations for the upcoming Olympics, for which these antennas would be a valuable contribution to how world wide Amateur Radio operators would view Canada’s ability to communicate with them.

Once again, I do thank you for the time you made for me today.  I would appreciate if you would review the information that I have provided, and the associated links, and advise me if Langley Township’s position is still the same with respect to the erection of Antenna Support Structures for Amateur Radio use?

I will continue to consult with the Township on this matter.  I want to ensure that my installation is safe and structurally sound and that my request be dealt with in a fair and equitable fashion, as Industry Canada intended.

In summary, I am looking to install Antenna Support Structures in a remote field on a 75 acre farm which is in the ALR.  There are no neighbours that can see the proposed installation, and there are trees surrounding the site that are higher than the proposed structures.  There is no public access to the proposed location, which is on private land.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. xxx a couple of lines on my home address, number, etc.

The Townships acknowledged receipt of the letter and said they would take it under advisement.


090221- I've been hunting for an option to expand my HF Radio experience.  There is no way that I am going to be able to put up a decent tower and antenna at my home QTH.  I don't have enough room, and it would definitely put an end to my marriage, my daughter wouldn't talk to me anymore, and a few neighbours might be somewhat less than thrilled as well.

So - I've been looking around, and I think I may have found an option.  It would involve renting / leasing access to some property in South Langley.  I would build what could become a pretty decent station over time.  We would have access to the property, so we could operate on site, and we would have high speed Internet, so that we could access the site remotely.

I think I have found a site.  It is closer to some high voltage power lines than I would like, but the next steps are to go down there and try a vertical antenna and see how it works.  After that, if it still looks good, I'll try and borrow one of the two club's that I belong to, mobile tower.  We can set that up, with a Yagi on it, and get a much better feel for how the noise floor is there.  Ideally, this is something that we could leverage for a few other hams, not just myself.

This link will take you to some Microsoft Earth Views of the property.  Where it shows a scale, I'm not convinced it is right.  The power lines look a lot further away than shown on pictures.  Daniel and I went to the site today, and we took some pictures.  The link to them is here.

Talking to the older couple that lives about 150 meters away, the dead end road has been a problem in the near past.  There are no lights at the end of the road.  They have had people drive through the gate into the fields.  They have had stolen bank machines dumped there, and it is likely a bit of a 'lover's lane'.  The lady indicated that she thought people were doing drugs up there.  Daniel, my son, pointed out a used syringe on the ground at the end of the road.  The lady indicated that she was concerned about what was going on there.  I suggested that a call to the Mounties, on their non-emergency line, would likely get the type of response that would discourage individuals from using the end of the road for dubious purposes.

Thoughts - if we bring power to the end of that road (the property line), maybe we need to put in a motion activated bright light on the pole.  We could mount a motion activated wifi camera on the pole and advertise that they are on candid camera?  Definitely, I would want to post no trespassing and video surveillance signs, etc.

My discussions with the brothers today was good.  They are willing to work with me to determine what we can do with the site.  It has a lot of plusses, and only a couple of obvious potential negatives.  We discussed the necessity to put in an access road, and that the shipping containers would need to be on gravel.  We discussed multiple towers, and that we would want to put in some utility poles for dipoles.  They have hay in this field, and turn cows loose in it.  Cows like to rub up against things, so it will be necessary to fence off any towers, utility poles and around where we have the C-Cans (shipping containers).  Where we can avoid guying towers, it will minimize the impact on the use of the field for its main purpose, growing hay and feeding cows. The brothers indicate that they don't plow the field, so we would only have to go down about two feet in the ground to put in conduit for coax and control wire to the towers.

When they cut the hay, it will be necessary to drive around the fenced off areas, but they didn't think this would be a big deal, as they are used to dodging the legs of the massive power lines cutting through their property.

There is a fair amount of soft ground in this field.  We are going to have to build a swale around where we put the C-cans, to divert the water.  If we have to build in a road, then we should make sure that we put in some Big-O pipe to move the water around the access road.  In addition, it would probably make sense to dig a bit deeper on any conduit runs that we put in, and put Big-O below it with some sand on top, and then backfill with topsoil.  The brothers indicated that any 'extra dirt' we get from digging down to hardpan, we could move it to the lower part of the field to build it back up.  It will likely be May before we could get into the field with equipment, if everything else works out.

Still thinking out loud, it would be best to move the C-Cans at least a 100 meters or so from the main road.  This might be enough to make it less attractive for people to 'explore'.  The C-Cans are going to need to be seriously hardened - so that they are going to be very difficult to get into.   We will likely have a lot of very expensive equipment in them, and they will be vulnerable.  We have discussed the requirement to fence in the C-Cans, to keep the cows out.  I'd like to avoid putting in a fence with razor wire on top!  We'll need to splash some paint on the C-Can's to make them fit into the environment.

I expect that we will need to run in 220 Volt to a 100 Amp breaker box.  This would be an underground run from the property line.  Initially, we will need a single 40 foot Shipping Container.  My research so far indicates that an insulated one might be the best option.  If we have to insulate it and put plywood walls and roof in it, that will add extra cost.  More research is required.  I've done some poking around on the Internet, and I've pushed up some ideas here.  I definitely like the idea of having a sliding screen door inside the main doors.  We can unlock the main door, and then there would be a locking, slider door just inside the C-Can.   I've seen some C-Cans where they have moved the sliding door four to six feet inside the can and made a bit of a porch.  Nice idea, but I think having the porch outside the can works for me - we can always put up a tarp if we want to sit outside and enjoy the sun, flies, and cows.

So - even though we want to remote into this environment, our thinking is that nothing beats being hands on when it comes to working a contest.  This setup would give us that kind of access to the equipment.  I've seen some pictures of C-Cans that have the double locking doors on both ends - that is attractive, as we could put two stations at either end, and use the center part for relaxing or for a bunk or two to catch a few z's if the bands die.  The C-Can can face East - West, so we would get early and late light, as well as a decent breeze through the container.  I've also seen some interesting ideas on putting windows in, with sliding steel shutters that are locked when you aren't there.  Ventilation and heat will be a must, as will an alarm system tied into the local club repeater.  There would be some parking spots if we fenced in the C-Cans, as well as along the access road we will have to build.




Satellite View | Ideas | Pictures | 090328 | Options | 090705 | Mid-July

This site was last updated 03/28/09