New Rural Internet Project
There is no cable/dsl or other reasonable internet service where I live so my current connectivity comes over a point to point network and I pay a fairly high connection rate (10$/month per megabit) and have a fairly low cap. The situation started to get worse as some of the local wireless providers are consolidating which of course means less competition and that will only lead to higher prices so... a few months ago we decided to take matters into our own hands and installed our first point to point RF network connection as a proof of concept for a rural internet project. The towers are approximately 6 miles apart and really only served to establish connectivity and prove to ourselves that we could figure everything out. The connection has been rock solid ever since we installed it including through several storms. The network tests out well, typically hitting speeds of 200+Mb/s sustained. With the proof in our back pocket so to speak we set about surveying the local terrain and planning for our own rural internet project. A couple of days ago we started installing the first major antenna tower for this project. It started with a road, two holes, and some frozen ground. The road had to be cut through the woods, the first hole was in my wallet, the other in the ground, and of course all the ground is frozen harder than.. well, harder than...
Install a network comprised of point to point (ptp) and point to multi-point (PTMP) dishes connected over non-licensed spectrum (none required). The goal is two-fold. One is to provide a few of the rural kids with equal quality access to the internet, comparable to their friends in the city. Two, is to build a network for shared services such as security, gaming for the kids, etc so the properties aren't quite so isolated.
Digging the first hole
The foundation is 66x66x48 (inches), that 122^3 feet
The 1025 worked as a pack mule, hauling wood, tools, and refreshments to the site in the woods.
(yeah, I know, ugly but hey, it worked)
We framed up the hole and used the 1025 to haul the cement down the freshly cut road. What started as frozen ground a few days ago during the dig and cutting the road turned into a slimy covering of mud over frozen ground by the time we started hauling concrete as the temperature was rising throughout the day. The 1025 was dancing, literally sliding on the thin layer of thawed mud on top of the frozen ground. wheeeee!
For anyone who cares to try this, the 48" bucket can handle a full load no issue, just be careful as it tends to slosh around
Filling the hole
121 cubic feet doesn't sound like a lot, it was 25 round trips with the tractor between the truck and the hole. That's 25 trips I didn't have to make with a wheelbarrow (which would have been more like 50-60 trips) more importantly it was 18000 pounds or 9 tons that I didn't have to schlep by hand. The little tractor did really well.
Placing the antenna base
Made a foam cap for the concrete so it could stay warm while it set. I checked the temperature and it was right at 55 degrees so it was doing okay, the foam cap is there as more insurance.
Then made a plastic cover to keep the heat in and the frost out.
The tower will be 66+' tall when completed. This will allow it to have full visibility above the neighboring trees and to the land across the little valley. When complete, this will be the core of connectivity for several properties which average 5-10 miles away from this antenna. The current proof of concept setup is rock solid at 6 miles and I can 'see' other radios on the same spectrum out about 15 miles away but too low level in signal to be of concern.
Once we have the main tower built then we go back into town to build out the source dish. The source dish will be on top of a commercial property who has been kind enough to let us use their roof space. The local internet provider has agreed to provide us with bandwidth up to 350Mb/s but it is unlikely we will get that full bandwidth given the equipment we are using but we will get close, probably in the 220Mb/s plus range. We could go much faster but the costs start to go up dramatically.
There were a few questions in the 'what did you do with your scut..' thread so I have copied the posting here and will answer any questions that may come up in this thread.