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UER Forum > Rookie Forum > Climbing radio masts - advice? (Viewed 656 times)
Lachy 


Location: San Francisco
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Radio Tower Climb
< on 9/16/2017 9:43 PM >
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Now I'm no rookie at climbing things (with and without permission), but I was thinking about climbing my first radio tower and have decided to give it a bit more thought than most other things.

I have visited the site multiple times, and I am sure that I am able to make the climb without being spotted or falling, but I want to be very careful to make sure it is a safe climb.

I have a harness and devices that I am sure will help me from taking a fall and will assist me if I need a rest, but I am worried about whether or not the actual radio will affect me.

The main radio tower is an AM tower that broadcasts 24/7 at 50kw 24/7 and is a non-directional tower that is what I would say around 550 feet high. I am not sure if the frequency matters, so I am going to leave it out unless it is relevant information. This is not the tower I am going to climb, for obvious reasons.

The tower that I am thinking about climbing is what I would describe as a pyramidal tower around 300-400 feet tall. According to google maps it is around 280 feet away from the main tower.

The reason I am making this post is to figure out if this tower is powered at all, and to see if it is worth climbing.

According to websites, it is an auxiliary tower for the main and larger tower. I am not sure if this means that it also broadcasts at the same time, or if it is just used for backup, as there is no further information known online.

If any of you have any knowledge or experience about radio towers,it would be much appreciated.

I am also trying to see if there is some sort of multi-meter type device for radio towers to test if the tower is on.

(PM me for photos/the site of the tower)



[last edit 9/16/2017 9:44 PM by Lachy - edited 1 times]

AnAppleSnail 


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Re: Radio Tower Climb
< Reply # 1 on 9/17/2017 11:49 AM >
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You know the station address. In the USA I would look up the broadcaster site on the FCC and take notes on all the broadcasts there. They may specify which antenna is for which purpose.

Electrically, towers carry a lot of power for broadcast. Ideally the tower you wish to climb is detuned correctly and is not inducing current from the AM signal. This causes the hundred meter tower to get as much as 1 volt per meter, or have 100VDC in bad cases. It's usually nonexistent or lower, but touching the tower frame could startle you into, uh, letting go.

Radiation-speaking, it's obviously non-ionizing but it's still energy. Your body won't block much radio outside the resonant frequencies of water, but 1 percent of 1 megawatt is plenty. If you get hotter than you should, bail.

Stay out of enclosed buildings especially around the AM tower. That has some exposed power that is lethal. The power is usually carried via conduit out in the open, so don't walk on the elevated bridge. With the power lines enclosed in metal conduit, I'm not sure where to stick a clamp meter. You can buy a cheap field strength meter, but that won't tell you more than On, Off, or Very On.

For security, it's been getting tighter across the world. People used to break in and climb. Now some people break in and steal metal and components. So expect more detection... I would guess that it is an automated system that calls 911 on motion detector signal, so handle appropriately.

Egress from towers is never great. Once I was on a (non-radio) tower when security came to patrol, probably based on a motion detector or camera due to elevated security. That was a rough stairclimb down. Go faster and be heard, or go slower and be caught?

Many 'pyramidal' towers are blast-resistant Long Lines towers. These were built before reliable satellite communication. AT&T put them across the US with the distinctive 'horn' microwave repeater pairs aimed at the next tower in line. Around here thry are the typical red/white paint, with an unusual large platform on top to support 10' wide horns at the corner.

These are often repurposed to cell phone (paddle shaped antenna) and other uses with conventional dishes on them.

There are a few extra things that could kill you. A radio tower is a cross between a power pylon, a microwave, and a plain tower. People have died from electrocution, microwaving, and parts of the tower they tied off to falling off with them. Go slowly and bail if you feel funny. Don't lick the conduit or the helix. And touch the frame with the back of tour hand periodically. And check the broadcast and power schedule.

There are anecdotes (including mine) that climbing active towers with nice cameras causes hot pixels.



[last edit 9/17/2017 11:55 AM by AnAppleSnail - edited 2 times]

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Steed 


Location: Edmonton/Seoul
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Re: Radio Tower Climb
< Reply # 2 on 9/17/2017 12:08 PM >
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Dont do it if you dont have 100% answers it is safe.




blackhawk 


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manes lupus

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Re: Radio Tower Climb
< Reply # 3 on 9/17/2017 3:43 PM >
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Safety depends on the frequency and the power density; some towers are not safe to climb when energized. They are worked on when offline.

The eye has very limited blood flow and delicate structures made of protein.
Think of an egg when it gets too warm... also the retina has a very limited capacity to dissipate heat and is paper thin.
If you actually are feeling "warm", you already have gone way over the exposure limits. Fortunately the eyes are somewhat buried in blood flow rich tissues.

There's another thread where I posted the most dangerous frequencies (30-300 MHz) and safe exposure power density levels.
If the tower is in the most hazardous frequency range, do not climb it if it's online.
Active FM and TV towers therefore should be avoided.

Remember the wave propagation from an antenna is not uniform.
There will be areas with little power density and others maybe just inches or feet away that could cook your balls.


RF fun bonus story
So much for tag out/lock outs...
http://www.rfsafet...ower_Climbing.html




Non ducor, duco
That_Dude 


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Climbing radio tower
< Reply # 4 on 9/27/2017 11:45 PM >
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I have found this radio tower and since the previous post I found relevant to this has been archived, I have chosen to ask my question here. Does this tower look ok to climb? https://www.google.ca/maps/@45.2188504,-75.5665022,17z

I personally don't see anything that would be a significant risk on it, although I would like to have a more experienced person confirm that.

Thanks




That_Dude 


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Re: Climbing radio tower
< Reply # 5 on 9/28/2017 11:43 AM >
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Sorry, here is a working link : https://www.google.ca/maps/@45.2146063,-75.5651197,3403a,35y,171.33h/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en




Rotting 


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Re: Climbing radio tower
< Reply # 6 on 9/28/2017 3:49 PM >
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Posted by That_Dude
Sorry, here is a working link : https://www.google.ca/maps/@45.2146063,-75.5651197,3403a,35y,171.33h/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en


That one did not work either, just to let you know




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blackhawk 


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Re: Climbing radio tower
< Reply # 7 on 9/28/2017 4:08 PM >
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There are existing threads on radio tower safety.
Do not climb energized FM or TV towers.

Not a good idea to post where you’re going to anyone; it's public viewable, and Google searchable.
The web crawlers never sleep:
http://www.uer.ca/online/




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That_Dude 


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Re: Climbing radio tower
< Reply # 8 on 9/28/2017 4:51 PM >
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I'm just confused on how to identify FM or TV towers, I know what cell antennas look like and what AM ones look like. The tower has a 'drum antenna', several cell phone ones, and some arrays of similar-looking antennas which I think are FM or TV antennas but I don't know for sure. I may go check it out tonight. Do you know how to use a multimeter to check if it is energized?




Gothic Ghoul 


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Re: Climbing radio tower
< Reply # 9 on 9/28/2017 5:00 PM >
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Posted by That_Dude
I'm just confused on how to identify FM or TV towers, I know what cell antennas look like and what AM ones look like. The tower has a 'drum antenna', several cell phone ones, and some arrays of similar-looking antennas which I think are FM or TV antennas but I don't know for sure. I may go check it out tonight. Do you know how to use a multimeter to check if it is energized?


A Multimeter probably wouldn't do any good in that situation, There are however personal RF meters that will do just that.

An added note, it's safe to assume that if it's there, it's probably on.



[last edit 9/28/2017 5:01 PM by Gothic Ghoul - edited 1 times]

blackhawk 


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Re: Climbing radio tower
< Reply # 10 on 9/28/2017 5:29 PM >
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Posted by That_Dude
I'm just confused on how to identify FM or TV towers, I know what cell antennas look like and what AM ones look like. The tower has a 'drum antenna', several cell phone ones, and some arrays of similar-looking antennas which I think are FM or TV antennas but I don't know for sure. I may go check it out tonight. Do you know how to use a multimeter to check if it is energized?


Don't get a multimeter near it!
Last thing you want is to damage an active site.
Unless you learn how to ID antenna or what the tower is used for, stick to inactive towers.
You can get seriously injured by RF. Most FM towers are never serviced when energized.
An RF suit will not even adequately protect you on some.





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ryan5685 


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Re: Climbing radio tower
< Reply # 11 on 9/30/2017 7:18 PM >
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Also, sometimes UER doesn't recognize links properly. If you preview your post and the link is not all recognized, you can press the globe icon or use the url /url tags.




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UrbanDK 


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Climbing radio masts - advice?
< Reply # 12 on 10/30/2017 12:05 AM >
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Hey, everyone. Haven't posted in a while; busy with college.
I'm not new to urbex but I've never climbed a radio mast before and my friend and I are looking at a few in particular. One is a cell tower and the other few are FM towers. I'm already aware that cell towers are the safest radiation-wise but I'd like to hear from people who've climbed radio towers before - I have no idea when the best time to climb is, what to do if there's no ladder, etc. Lots of advice would help. Thanks!




UrbanDK
blackhawk 


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manes lupus

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Re: Climbing radio masts - advice?
< Reply # 13 on 10/30/2017 12:09 AM >
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Do not climb energized TV and FM towers!
https://www.uer.ca...=1&threadid=126899




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UrbanDK 


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Re: Climbing radio masts - advice?
< Reply # 14 on 10/30/2017 12:12 AM >
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I read somewhere that FM towers are mostly okay but I'll just stay away from them. Thanks for that.




UrbanDK
blackhawk 


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manes lupus

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Re: Climbing radio masts - advice?
< Reply # 15 on 10/30/2017 2:47 AM >
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Posted by UrbanDK
I read somewhere that FM towers are mostly okay but I'll just stay away from them. Thanks for that.


20+kw of RF radiation can get hot fast.
Try water tanks, they are much safer to start on.
They are 911 hot spots so remote ones are best.
An abandoned one be perfect.
Abandoned train bridges are great too.

Mind what you're doing; 3 points of contact when climbing at all times.
Every hand and foot hold count.
Never climb on wet steel.
Steel is completely unforgiving... expect broken bones or worse if you fall.




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Radio2600 


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Re: Climbing radio masts - advice?
< Reply # 16 on 10/30/2017 4:52 AM >
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Avoid broadcast towers. Even though the FCC mandated that analog TV get replaced with digital and to cut the power output in half, there's still a lot of power going out of the antenna. Channels 2-6 are allowed 46 kW and Channels 7-13 are allowed 160 kW.

FM stations can put out up to 100 kW (actual power varies based on the stations license).

AM station tend to be 50 Kw or less. Some stations are daylight only and go off the air at night. Only a few stations are designated "clear channel" stations that are allowed to broadcast 50 kW 24 hours a day.

Sometimes you can be up pretty high and not be near an antenna.

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WestOhooligan 


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Re: Climbing radio masts - advice?
< Reply # 17 on 10/30/2017 1:20 PM >
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Posted by Radio2600


Legit access is helpful.

Somebody has to change the light bulbs.




Indeed they do, somebody, but no this guy. I don't have a crazy fear of heights, but that would be pushing my limits for sure. Hats of to you man.




UrbanDK 


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Re: Climbing radio masts - advice?
< Reply # 18 on 10/30/2017 4:40 PM >
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Thanks for the tips. I was actually thinking about starting off on a water tower that I know; I won't be climbing a radio tower for a while. I've been looking on the FCC site and sometimes they have information about whether a tower is daylight and sometimes they don't - I can't really find that in the lists that I've been looking at. Is there any way I can tell? And if it is daylight, does that mean that it just shuts off at night or does it go into a low power mode or something?




UrbanDK
blackhawk 


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Re: Climbing radio masts - advice?
< Reply # 19 on 10/30/2017 5:40 PM >
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Posted by UrbanDK
Thanks for the tips. I was actually thinking about starting off on a water tower that I know; I won't be climbing a radio tower for a while. I've been looking on the FCC site and sometimes they have information about whether a tower is daylight and sometimes they don't - I can't really find that in the lists that I've been looking at. Is there any way I can tell? And if it is daylight, does that mean that it just shuts off at night or does it go into a low power mode or something?


The electric meter would give you that information.
They can power up at anytime; without a lock out it be a crap shot.
If a 50 KW transmitter powers up with you in the middle of its propagation pattern... it wouldn't be pretty.




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