For financial, safety and aesthetic reasons.
Firstly the financial cost of repairing/replacing twisted tower and antenna systems. Terry (G4MKP) and many other radio amateurs have suffered catastrophic damage to their antenna systems due to high winds, driving rain and other failures due to poor maintenance regimes. The effort to luff a tower and remove a large beam array is significant. Then there is the matter of getting friends and family to help. What about working on shaky ladders in the driving rain on the Friday before a contest?
Many of us have little option but to leave the system up at height for extended periods without maintenance. This often leads to disappointment when running in the middle of a major contest and the feeder cable finally gives in or that loose element has ‘de-tuned’ the antenna resonance. How many of us have been disappointed when trying to work a new DXCC and the antenna fails with high SWR or your amplifier trips just when you can hear them?
Secondly, we are also acutely aware of the mostly hostile approach in the UK from neighbours looking on at, in our minds, things of beauty in our gardens up at 60’. Where planning is a problem it is almost always acceptable to put up of whatever you like for up to 28 days per year. That’s the equivalent of 14 contest weekends! Amateurs with smaller terraced houses that often have long gardens can now put up a beam with a boom as wide as their garden. Simply luff the installation when finished. Without TowerMate, keeping the installation below fence height for the intervening periods is hard work if not impossible. With TowerMate you are only limited by how low to the ground you can luff your tower.
How did you design TowerMate?
Having established a personal need, we talked through the requirements and laid out a rough sketch on a paper napkin in a burger bar with our children! We turned the sketch into a CAD scheme model and then to a working Balsa wood model (iteration #1). Having established that it actually worked we designed the mechanism to carry any boom antenna all the way up to 150kg and 4m2 projected area (iteration #2). Extensive trials with square and round booms proved successful which led to final minor changes for Iteration #3 - the production version.
Is there a smaller model?
TowerMate is suitable for any beam up to a weight limit of 150kgs. In order to meet the stress requirements and to maintain robustness of the product, we are unable to offer a smaller model at this time.
TowerMate is designed to be compatible for stacking antennas. You will need to determine if your installation can take the overall weight but mechanically it is not a problem for TowerMate.
Vertical or Horizontal?
The purpose of TowerMate is to lower your antenna to ground level without having to take it apart. It doesn’t take long for the effects sunlight to manifest. Ingress from rain, snow, sleet, bird droppings, wind is almost instantaneous and just a matter of time before a failure occurs. Luffing your tower and lowering your beam boom onto blocks, a bench, saw horse of whatever for storing means that you can run a quick check before raising your antenna into action, certain that everything will work. If your stub mast is man-enough then, from a TowerMate perspective, you don't even need to support it for extended periods.
Some of us will prefer to store our antennas at ground level and some will prefer to leave them up with the tower raised and just luff over occasionally for maintenance.
Either works and, with TowerMate, you decide what’s best for you.
Boom size and U-Bolts?
Can I use different size U-bolts? Sure you can. We have assumed a 2", 3" or 4" boom with M8 shaft sizes. If you wish to use a slightly different size bolt which doesn't fit the current arrangement just let us know. We can drill them for you or leave the plates blank for you to drill yourself. Just let us know.
I use a 65mm/2.5'' stub mast. No problem. Although TowerMate is supplied with U-bolts for the more common 52mm/2'' stub mast, we have pre-drilled mounting holes for customers with 65mm/2.5'' stub masts. Installation is identical to the standard size except that you will need to remove the supplied 52mm/2'' U-bolts and replace with your own U-bolts for 65mm/2'' stub.
What about boom-trusses?
We have designed TowerMate to take a boom truss on the left side of the sloping hanging plate. Simply remove the left external vertical stiffener and bolt your boom truss to the plate. Notice that there is an angular offset from vertical with a boom truss to prevent fouling of the truss wires when luffing and raising with a stacked installation. A 1-metre boom truss will be 200mm off vertical. It is possible to pack the top U-bolts of a boom truss to bring it more vertical if desired. This has almost zero impact from an engineering perspective but might look more pleasing to the eye.
What antennas are compatible?
There are too many options to say. We stipulate a maximum boom size of 4” or approx. 100mm. We have fitted Optibeam antennas and large round boom beams without issue. Because the boom is mounted underneath, phasing line installation should be straightforward but might need to be manipulated to circumvent any fouling around the mounting area. This will have negligible impact on antenna performance. We encourage you to send pictures and videos of your installation for publishing on our website.
What is the manufacturing process?
TowerMate is made from high-grade components. Off the shelf bearings and fasteners are supplied direct to us. All steel and aluminium components are precision laser cut, including all fastener holes, by a leading UK manufacturer. Each unit is constructed following assembly drawings and all fasteners are torqued-up and then paint-marked to ensure none are missed.
How do I maintain my TowerMate?
Any device with moving parts requires maintenance. TowerMate requires little maintenance. The two main bearings should be re-greased (through the grease nipples) annually. The locking mechanism is protected from the worst of the weather inside its housing but it should be brushed clean regularly and checked to ensure that the pendulum swings freely (there is a back-stop bolt to intentionally prevent over-rotation of the pendulum). Prior to raising anything above head height, users must perform a safety check that all fastener nuts are fully engaged on their threads. A visual check of the components for cracks and damage must also be carried out.
Any mechanical device can fail. Any device with moving parts has the potential to injure or fail to operate as intended. We have designed TowerMate to remove failure modes and to eliminate as many hazards as can reasonably be predicted. There are sharp corners and moving parts and users must take precautions whilst handling TowerMate. Installation of TowerMate on to your tower needs to be carried out according to our instructions. Should TowerMate fail to disengage from vertical then winding the tower back to vertical and out again will usually free-up the action. In the event of a failure please contact us so that we can offer advice and identify the root cause of the failure before arranging a replacement.
We warrant TowerMate for a period of 12 months to the first user against poor workmanship and/or component failure. We will replace any faulty components or, where necessary, provide a complete replacement unit free of charge. Shipping will be at the customer’s expense.
Each TowerMate is shipped in double skinned cardboard boxes. The device is wrapped in soft polythene and sits on corner foam protectors. Shipping costs do vary and we have estimated £15 to cover most UK mainland addresses. We will ship to anywhere within the EU at cost – please
. For orders outside of the EU, please
I have a question.
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