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Using a balloon as an antenna?


thedeadhand54
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My last question was answered so well I thought I throw another one at you guys.

Has anyone used a balloon for receiving radio signals? (4g, wifi, tv or whatever else)

i moved and now live behind a ridge, the AT&T tower is a stubby piece of crap like maybe 40 ft tall and can't go beyond the ridge.

i bought a 4g booster/repeater and I figured the best way I could test it would be a balloon, before I put up a tower.

if anyone has tried this with something similar I would be very interested to hear what type of balloon and any tricks you have.

thank you

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On 9/24/2017 at 4:58 AM, thedeadhand54 said:

My plan was to strap a phone to a weather balloon and call it and listen for the ring .

That might be an idea..you may lose it though.

Another option is using a quadcopter of sorts, attaching a phone or relay to it and see how it goes. Easiest and best option as you can control where it's going to go as well, haha. Also, a bit of fun.

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@thedeadhand54 I would recommend the quadcopter option as well if possible.  The weather balloon could be tricky to do an accurate test, especially if there is any wind that would cause it to drift one direction. 

You could also by cheap pvc pipe to hoist it into the air temporarily for testing then you would know what kind of tower height you are looking at as well.  You could use 1" sch 40 pvc that is only a few dollars per 10 ft joint but this would probably be limited to 20-30 ft tall and still be able to hold it.

How high of a tower are you thinking?

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2 hours ago, barry99705 said:

30' of 1in plastic pipe will be floppy as hell with any weight on it.  If it were me, I'd use 3/4 metal electrical conduit.  At least that won't bend into a rainbow with the test ap at the top.  This won't work for the permanent pole though.

I have used 30 ft of 1 in pvc before with no issue as long as you support it on the side of a house, barn, etc. for a quick temporary test with a very small antenna.  I have once seen someone actually use 4 in pvc for a permanent mast at around 25 ft but wouldn't necessary recommend it.   I would agree with you free standing to use metal conduit but like you said both are only for testing, not anything permanent.  Was just some ideas.  Good, cheap mast pole if you can find some is old oil field pipe or well casing.

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3 hours ago, trapman16 said:

I have used 30 ft of 1 in pvc before with no issue as long as you support it on the side of a house, barn, etc. for a quick temporary test with a very small antenna.  I have once seen someone actually use 4 in pvc for a permanent mast at around 25 ft but wouldn't necessary recommend it.   I would agree with you free standing to use metal conduit but like you said both are only for testing, not anything permanent.  Was just some ideas.  Good, cheap mast pole if you can find some is old oil field pipe or well casing.

Wow!  I had to put a piece of half inch steel conduit inside a piece of 3/4 pvc conduit for my weather station.  After a day in the sun it was drooping, and that was with only a 6 foot piece!   Though the weather station is probably heavier than a point to point ap.  We used two of these recently for a point to point shot.  Had to get over a fire station between two buildings.  Both poles are at the top of a 2 story building, then go up another 15-ish feet.

 

IMG_20170824_125204.jpg

IMG_20170824_164247.jpg

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On 9/30/2017 at 9:36 AM, barry99705 said:

Wow!  I had to put a piece of half inch steel conduit inside a piece of 3/4 pvc conduit for my weather station.  After a day in the sun it was drooping, and that was with only a 6 foot piece!   Though the weather station is probably heavier than a point to point ap.  We used two of these recently for a point to point shot.  Had to get over a fire station between two buildings.  Both poles are at the top of a 2 story building, then go up another 15-ish feet.

They look like the UniFi box APs..

It also looks like a bit of wind would, ah, not be good for it..

Also expecting a bit of lightning to hit it (it's pretty high up..).

Edited by Dave-ee Jones
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Well, they're flagpoles, so wind shouldn't be too much of a worry, and they're grounded, so yea, lightning will kill the radios, but that's about it.  The trees in the area are higher by about a hundred feet, so not too worried about lightning.  Radios are Ubiquiti Nanostation M5's.

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On 9/29/2017 at 6:36 PM, barry99705 said:

I had to put a piece of half inch steel conduit inside a piece of 3/4 pvc conduit for my weather station.  After a day in the sun it was drooping, and that was with only a 6 foot piece!   Though the weather station is probably heavier than a point to point ap.  We used two of these recently for a point to point shot.  Had to get over a fire station between two buildings.  Both poles are at the top of a 2 story building, then go up another 15-ish feet.

Whatever gets the job done.  Looks like some nice little mast poles!

I wouldn't worry to much about lightning especially if you have grounded them.  Proper mast grounding can make it almost "invisible" to lightning hugely reducing your chances of a strike, but it is still possible.  

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11 hours ago, trapman16 said:

 

Whatever gets the job done.  Looks like some nice little mast poles!

I wouldn't worry to much about lightning especially if you have grounded them.  Proper mast grounding can make it almost "invisible" to lightning hugely reducing your chances of a strike, but it is still possible.  

We had to renetwork a police station after it got hit by lightning.  That was fun...  If you guys haven't done it lately, go make backups of all your managed switches today.  Lost the firewall, four or five managed switches, and a few desktops.  Got lucky and none of the servers seemed to be damaged.  They also got lucky and weren't using their own radio tower anymore, I think they use the county's system, but their tower was still up.

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@barry99705 so sounds like more of a lightning strike on the network or power line?  Its no fun and you always wonder if you will see more damage days later to equipment not totally cooked by the strike.   I always recommend some sort of strike suppression device on feed lines from towers/masts.  One local ISP will install strike suppressors at the interface box if you request it.    

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6 hours ago, trapman16 said:

@barry99705 so sounds like more of a lightning strike on the network or power line?  Its no fun and you always wonder if you will see more damage days later to equipment not totally cooked by the strike.   I always recommend some sort of strike suppression device on feed lines from towers/masts.  One local ISP will install strike suppressors at the interface box if you request it.    

The building is covered with lightning rods, so we think most of the damage was induced voltage on the lines.  Basically an EMP.  We had suppressors installed at another facility once, took them off about two weeks after.  Caused all kinds of connectivity issues, not sure if they were installed correctly though.  I think it's weird that a cable modem will usually survive a power surge through the coax, but the wan port of the firewall will almost always blow out...

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21 hours ago, barry99705 said:

The building is covered with lightning rods, so we think most of the damage was induced voltage on the lines.  Basically an EMP. 

That's interesting.

21 hours ago, barry99705 said:

We had suppressors installed at another facility once, took them off about two weeks after.  Caused all kinds of connectivity issues, not sure if they were installed correctly though

I have seen this to be a problem before.  And the quality of the suppressors can play a big role in it as well.

 

 

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