Big things have been happening here over the past week. A lot of the highly visible parts of this project are coming together. We have taken delivery of the majority of the components of the new antenna, and assembly is underway.
Setting the Kingpost
The kingpost is the major supporting structural piece of the antenna. The antenna reflector itself mounts to the kingpost, and the kingpost pivots to allow azimuth adjustments. The kingpost has a lower mount point (that doubles as a pivot point), and a pair of supporting legs. The kingpost is lifted by crane and lowered onto bolts that had been welded to the rebar structure before the concrete was poured.
The nearly two ton kingpost had to be aligned carefully with the bolts, and then held steady while the base nuts were fitted. Then the two legs were bolted to the kingpost and also to the antenna pad. It was quite amazing to watch Steve and his installation team work. The entire process of setting the kingpost was accomplished in just a couple of hours.
Assembling the Reflector
The antenna’s reflector is a thin skin of aluminum secured to a skeleton structure. The structure holds the aluminum skin in proper alignment, allowing it to focus captured RF energy on the feed. The first step in assembling the reflector structure is to place the central hub horizontally on the ground and attach the main supporting ribs. Each of these ribs are secured to the hub by several bolts.
Once the main ribs are attached to the hub, they are tied together with dozens of cross members. This lattice of aluminum allows the structure to be rigid in all directions and withstand significant windloading. Initially, the pieces are fit together loosely to allow for some “play.” Then the dish structure must be carefully measured and aligned in a process called theodoliting. The theodolite measures horizontal and vertical angles very precisely, allowing Steve’s crew to be sure that the reflector is perfectly round, and that it focuses its energy very precisely.
As a point of interest, the theodolite is so precise that it can only be done at night. The heating provided by the sun causes the structural elements of the antenna to expand and move, throwing off measurements. I don’t know why, but I am always astounded by these practical implications of physics.
More pictures to come as our project continues.
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