Guyed tower study

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Copyright 2000-2004 Kurt Andress, K7NV All Rights Reserved Updated April 29, 2001
A study of what happens when we make changes to a tower configuration


Contents

Preface

The following discussion is aimed at observing tower behavior subsequent to changes in configuration, and has selected the EIA/TIA RS-222-F spec as the standard for the comparisons. The information presented is just part of the work pursued here to understand how guyed towers work. I found the results interesting, and contrary to some amateur folklore, making it a shame not to share with others.
The discussion is not intended to address whether or not the EIA spec is a going to tell how much you can really get away with at your own private installation. The EIA/TIA spec exists on its own merit. Many have installed towers that have loads exceeding the EIA spec, and they have survived. There are those who have not been so fortunate! The main problem is that very few know what the real conditions were at the many sites that were overloaded! This study is intended to establish how a guyed tower system reacts to a variety of configuration changes.


Methodology

All of the towers were modeled with finite element analysis (FEA) software. The FEA approach to analyzing mechanical structures is very much like the MiniNEC and NEC codes. The models are made up of discreet segments called "Finite Elements." The program looks at each individual segment in the model with the loads applied and computes how it behaves under its loads and how it interacts with the others under their loads.

The FEA model is constructed in a modeling module with the elements containing the appropriate properties to represent the type of tower and guys used. The FEA models used in this exercise are the simplest models that one can make. They are called "stick models." They are simply a collection of line elements from one point to another. Each element has the properties of the section (tower or guy) that it represents.

Tower geometry, guy sizes, feedlines, antenna projected areas, and basic wind speed were entered into two of 5 linked spreadsheets to produce the input loads to be applied to the towers in the FEA models. All loads applied to the towers were calculated in accordance with ANSI/EIA RS-222-F.

The tower element properties were calculated from the information in the Rohn drawings with the cross sectional area adjusted to cause the correct tower weight to be developed in the analysis via the application of -1G acceleration to the model. This requred the extraction of results in the form of momernt, shear, and axial loads, instead of viewing the FEA stress results, because the tower cross sectional area was not correct for stress determination. This proved less work than the alternative of calculating and inputing all of the tower section weights into the model.

The guy properties used the formulas and data offered by the Macwhyte Wire Rope Company, Kenosha, WI. to find a solid diameter for the cables that would accurately provide stretch behavior with an elastic modulus of 29 Msi. One should view the information available at the Guy Cable Linkon this site, to understand how the guy properties were derived.

Then the calculated loads are applied to the model in a load module. The analysis is run and the results are obtained in a post processing module.
The post processor provides bending moments in two axes, shear in two axes, axial loads, and deflections at the ends of each element in the model.
This data is entered into another spreadsheet to calculate the combined tower stresses and safety factors along with the guy safety factors.

The FEA software is a linear finite element code called GBEAM. It is quite nice for software that resides at the very affordable end of the spectrum. The shareware version is quite adequate for most simple problems.
Those interested in obtaining more information can go to http://www.grapesoftware.mb.ca

There is another website that has an excellent listing of public domain analytical software.
Those who are interested in this can go to http://www.engr.usask.ca/%7Emacphed/finite/fe_resources/node74.html

Linear FEA code is ok for analyzing structures that do not experience large deflections. One needs to use non-linear software when the deflections are large.
Most of the tower deflections in this study are close to the width of the tower face, so the analyses are expected to be acceptable. Questionable models are noted.

Comments to aid readers that are not familiar with this subject:

The following analytical results contain the following values.
Guy loads are simply in Lbs of load, compared to the guy cable breaking strength to determine the safety factor.
Combined tower stress is the sum of stress due to bending, stress due to shear, and stress due to axial compression. Bending stress is caused by guy stretch that allows the tower to lean over, Shear stress is caused by the horizontal windloads on the tower and antennas, and the axial compression is caused by the guy cables resisting the wind loads and their angles from the tower or ground. As each guy resists the wind loads it produces vertical loads in the tower based on its angle.
The tower displacement values are simply how far each point on the tower moves horizontally under the wind loading.

The EIA/TIA basic wind speed is NOT a peak reading on a wind gauge (anemometer). It is the average wind speed for one mile of wind passing over the structure. This is expected to be lower than the peak readings on anemometers installed at the site.

The base of the towers and guy anchors can be modeled with different constraints at each of the ground connections. Constraints in Fx Fy Fz are restraints that prevent movement along the X Y & Z axes. Constraints Mx My Mz are restraints that prevent rotation about the X Y & Z axes. The guy anchors in all models used Fx Fy Fz constraints. Tower base constraints are given for each model.

The following values were used for determining the safety factors:
Allowable combined tower stress = 50,000 psi, allowing for a 1/3 increase due to combining of the fundamental stress development modes, per the Rohn drawing, et. al.
Guy breaking strength for 3/16 EHS = 4000 Lbs
Guy breaking strength for 1/4" EHS = 6700 Lbs.




The Guyed Tower Study


The Baseline Model:


I selected a tower configuration from the "Rohn Ham Tower Catalogue", May 1998. The tower designs in it are intended to conform to the ANSI/EIA RS-222-E specification.
The baseline model is the 100' configuration for a 90 Mph basic wind speed. Refer to Rohn drawing C870478 R1, P/N 45G90D100.
The tower configuration is the same as the one offered in my new, 1999 commercial catalogue, obtained from Champion Radio.
This is a 100' tower with 3/16 EHS guys at 31' & 61', and 1/4" EHS guys at 91'.
The listed antenna projected area at the top of tower is 13.5 SqFt + 6.7 SqFt (see note 4) = 20.2 SqFt.
The area listed for the side arm mounts in note 4 is the effective area. When this is corrected for round member projected area (as in note 2) the additional area for antennas, when not using the side mounts, becomes 6.7 SqFt.
The tower also has 3 each 1/2" Dia and 3 each 7/8" Dia feedlines running from the base to top of the tower.
The guy loads include pretensioning of 400 Lb for the 3/16" cable and 600 Lbs for the 1/4" cable.
The Rohn drawing does not state the weight of the lumped antenna load at the top of the tower, so I selected a weight of 250 Lbs for use in these models.

Tower Model
Tower Model Showing Applied Loads and Constraints



Results: Model 45G100B Load Case #1 - Wind @ 30 Degrees to an upwind guy set.

Tower base constraints - Fx Fy Fz Mx My Mz representing tower buried in a concrete footing.

Combined stresses taken at the bottom end of each span.

Tower Section Combined Stress (Psi) Safety Factor
Top section (91'-100') 27873 1.79
Third Section (61'-91') 18282 2.7
Second Section (31'-61') 15675 3.19
Base section (0-31') 40019 1.25

Guy Loads

Guy Set Load (Lbs) Safety Factor
Top set (91') 4312 1.55
Second Set (61') 2045 1.96
First Set (31') 1404 2.8



Tower Model Tower Displacements along the upwind guyset axis @ 10x Scale Tower Displacements

Elevation on Tower Displacement (In)
100' 16.39
91' 13.51
61' 7.41
31' 3.11

Results: Model 45G100C Load Case #2 - Wind @ 60 Degrees to guy set (Directly between two sets of guys).

Combined stresses taken at the bottom end of each span.
Tower Section Combined Stress (Psi) Safety Factor
Top section (91'-100') 27879 1.79
Third Section (61'-91') 19600 2.55
Second Section (31'-61') 16958 2.95
Base section (0-31') 43868 1.14

Guy Loads

Guy Set Load (Lbs) Safety Factor
Top set (91') 3809 1.76
Second Set (61') 1842 2.17
First Set (31') 1233 3.24



Tower Model
Tower Displacements along either guyset @ 10x Scale

Tower Displacements

Elevation on Tower Displacement (In)
100' 18.53
91' 15.34
61' 8.43
31' 3.51



Comments:
This analysis shows that all safety factors are > 1.0, so the tower is considered safe. This indicates that the methodology and analytical results more or less agree with that represented by the Rohn recommendations.
The tower safety factors are highest with the wind closer to a set of guys, the guys work the hardest and hence, have their lowest safety factors.
The lowest tower safety factors occur when the wind is directly between two sets of guys. Here the guy safety factors are highest because they share the loads with another guy set. The reason the tower stresses increase is because of guy geometry. The guys anchors are their farthest from the direction of the wind. Eventhough, the loads get shared equally by two sets of guys, the poor angles result in higher tower deflections that result in higher bending stress. Additionally, the fact that two adjacent guys share the loads, results in an increased in tower compression.
A very interesting observation in this model is that 71% of the tower stress at the base is caused by bending, 27% due to compression , and 2% due to shear.
The same general distribution was observed in all other models with fixed bases.
We can say that tower bending is the limiting factor in this design.

For an optimized design, we would expect to see similar safety factors for all tower sections and all guys. The guy and tower safety factors might not be the same, due to other considerations. But, for each unique tower feature we would expect all margins to be fairly closely grouped.
This is clearly not an optimized design, simply one that will work.

Configuration Variant #1:

Let's take the same 20.2 SqFt of projected antenna area and spread it across different vertical locations on the tower. I divided the antenna projected area and weight into 3 equal parts and placed them at 100', 61' and 31' leaving all other tower properties and geometries the same.
The feedline runs were changed to have 2 each of the original 6 lines run up to each of the 3 antenna locations.

Results: Model 45G100F Load Case #1 - Wind @ 30 Degrees to an upwind guy set.

Tower base constraints - Fx Fy Fz Mx My Mz representing tower buried in a concrete footing.

Combined stress taken at the bottom end of each span
Tower Section Combined Stress (Psi) Safety Factor
Top section (91'-100') 11699 4.27
Third Section (61'-91') 6923 7.22
Second Section (31'-61') 10378 4.82
Base section (0-31') 43451 1.15


Guy Loads
Guy Set Load (Lbs) Safety Factor
Top set (91') 2827 2.37
Second Set (61') 2002 2.00
First Set (31') 1576 2.54


Tower Model
Tower Displacements along the upwind guyset axis @ 10x Scale


Tower displacements
Elevation on Tower Displacement (In)
100' 8.77
91' 8.27
61' 7.03
31' 3.62


Results: Model 45G100G Load Case #2 - Wind @ 60 Degrees to guy set (Directly between two sets of guys).

Combined stress taken at the bottom end of each span.
Tower Section Combined Stress (Psi) Safety Factor
Top section (91'-100') 11699 4.27
Third Section (61'-91') 6656 7.51
Second Section (31'-61') 10381 4.82
Base section (0-31') 47755 1.05


Guy Loads
Guy Set Load (Lbs) Safety Factor
Top set (91') 2554 2.62
Second Set (61') 1767 2.26
First Set (31') 1371 2.92


Tower Model
Tower Displacements along either guyset @ 10x Scale


Tower Displacements
Elevation on Tower Displacement (In)
100' 10.19
91' 9.57
61' 8.05
31' 4.11



Comments:
This change was expected to increase the safey factors from the baseline model. The safety factors increased everywhere except at the tower base, where they decreased.
After reviewing the components of the combined tower stresses it became apparent that moving the antenna point loads to lower levels resulted in more guy stretch in the lower 2 sets of 3/16" cables, resulting in higher bending stresses at the tower base.
This would indicate that the original Rohn tower configuration was specific to the original load case, I.E. all the load at the top.
It also confirms the Rohn position, stated by K7LXC, in a Towertalk post, that the rated antenna area for the tower applies to all methods of area distribution along its length.

Looking at the tower deflections, it appears that the problem is that the new lower antenna loads have created higher elongation in the lower guy sets, which result in increased deflection in the lower sections.

Configuration Variant #2:

Since the tower stresses seem to be driven by the stretch in the guy cables caused by placing antennas lower on the tower, let's see what happens if we increase the lower cable sizes to 1/4" EHS. All guy cables in these models are 1/4" EHS. Antenna loads are the same as the previous example.

Results: Model 45G100F2 Load Case #1 - Wind @ 30 Degrees to an upwind guy set.

Tower base constraints - Fx Fy Fz Mx My Mz representing tower buried in a concrete footing.


Combined stress taken at the bottom end of each span.
Tower Section Combined Stress (Psi) Safety Factor
Top section (91'-100') 11699 4.27
Third Section (61'-91') 12878 3.88
Second Section (31'-61') 12512 4.00
Base section (0-31') 34202 1.46


Guy Loads
Guy Set Load (Lbs) Safety Factor
Top set (91') 2665 2.51
Second Set (61') 2467 2.72
First Set (31') 1866 3.59


Tower Model
Tower Displacements along the upwind guyset axis @ 10x Scale


Tower Displacements
Elevation on Tower Displacement (In)
100' 8.81
91' 7.63
61' 4.75
31' 2.24


Results: Model 45G100G2 Load Case #2 - Wind @ 60 Degrees to guy set (Directly between two sets of guys).

Combined stress taken at the bottom end of each span.
Tower Section Combined Stress (Psi) Safety Factor
Top section (91'-100') 11699 4.27
Third Section (61'-91') 13409 3.73
Second Section (31'-61') 12972 3.85
Base section (0-31') 37274 1.34


Guy Loads
Guy Set Load (Lbs) Safety Factor
Top set (91') 2393 2.80
Second Set (61') 2227 3.01
First Set (31') 1660 4.04


Tower Model
Tower Displacements along either guyset @ 10x Scale


Tower Displacements
Elevation on Tower Displacement (In)
100' 10.19
91' 8.82
61' 5.45
31' 2.55


Comments:
This configuration results in an increase in tower safety factors, which now allows us to increase antenna areas to get back to the original baseline safety factors.
Notice that, in this configuration, the tower sections are much more aligned on a straight plane. The base stress has been reduced by 22%.
Since the antenna loads were moved down the tower, we had to increase the guy sizes to reduce the guy stretch to keep the tower bending under control.
Again, nearly 70% of the combined stress in the tower base is caused by bending, suggesting that guy cable stretch is still the predominant factor!
The safety factors for ultimate guy loads are just fine. But, the cable stretch is still allowing the tower to lean over and produce the high base tower stresses that limit the entire installation.
This comparison should shed some light on the continuing controvery over whether it is "okay" to put larger guys on a tower. If the tower is similar to our example (limited by guy elongation and tower bending stress), larger guys will always make the situation better. The increase in tower compression caused by the larger guys and their weight and pretension was insignificant compared to their ability to reduce the tower deflection.
Increasing guy size only become a problem with the tallest configurations that have relatively low antenna loads, and the compression from the guys, reacting the extended tower sections, becomes the predominant stress development factor.


Configuration Variant #3:

In the tower load calculations I noticed that the number and size of the feedlines running up the tower seemed to significantly affect the tower loads. Let's see what an extreme case can tell us about this.
I took the baseline Rohn model with 3 - 1/2" & 3 - 7/8" feedlines running to the top of the tower and replaced them with just 1 - 1/2" feedline running to tower top to feed just one big antenna (like an 80 meter beam) . Still 20.2 SqFt and 250 Lbs up there.

Results: Model 45G100B1 Load Case #1 - Wind @ 30 Degrees to an upwind guy set.

Tower base constraints - Fx Fy Fz Mx My Mz representing tower buried in a concrete footing.


Combined stress taken at the bottom end of each span.
Tower Section Combined Stress (Psi) Safety Factor
Top section (91'-100') 25990 1.92
Third Section (61'-91') 17387 2.88
Second Section (31'-61') 12371 4.04
Base section (0-31') 27650 1.81


Guy Loads
Guy Set Load (Lbs) Safety Factor
Top set (91') 3654 1.83
Second Set (61') 1503 2.66
First Set (31') 1034 3.87


Tower Study
Tower Displacements along the upwind guyset axis @ 10x Scale


Tower Displacements
Elevation on Tower Displacement (In)
100' 14.05
91' 11.08
61' 5.08
31' 1.97


Results: Model 45G100C1 Load Case #2 - Wind @ 60 Degrees to guy set (Directly between two sets of guys).

Combined stress taken at the bottom end of each span.
Tower Section Combined Stress (Psi) Safety Factor
Top section (91'-100') 25246 1.98
Third Section (61'-91') 18864 2.65
Second Section (31'-61') 13480 3.71
Base section (0-31') 30162 1.66


Guy Loads
Guy Set Load (Lbs) Safety Factor
Top set (91') 3217 2.08
Second Set (61') 1385 2.89
First Set (31') 925 4.32


Tower Model
Tower Displacements along either guyset @ 10x Scale


Tower Displacements
Elevation on Tower Displacement (In)
100' 15.78
91' 12.52
61' 5.78
31' 2.22


Comments:
These models should be compared to 45G100B & 45G100C.

This shows that the number and size of the feedlines has a fairly significant affect on the tower loads.
The elimination of 5 feedlines resulted in a reduction in tower stress at the base to 69% of the original configuration.


Configuration Variant #4:

Since, the limiting factor for the tower, all along, had been base bending stress, I thought it would be interesting to see what improvement would result by taking the tower base out of the concrete and setting it on a free rotating base.
This configuration is the same as the original "factory" model, except the tower has been taken out of the concrete filled hole and mounted on a pier that has the equivalent of a ball socket mount that allows the tower base to freely rotate.

Results: Model 45G100B2 Load Case #1 - Wind @ 30 Degrees to an upwind guy set.

Tower base constraints - Fx Fy Fz representing tower base mounted on a free rotating connection..


Combined stress taken at the bottom end of each span.
Tower Section Combined Stress (Psi) Safety Factor
Top section (91'-100') 27855 1.79
Third Section (61'-91') 19908 2.51
Second Section (31'-61') 15727 3.18
Base section (0-31') 11371 4.40


Guy Loads
Guy Set Load (Lbs) Safety Factor
Top set (91') 4278 1.57
Second Set (61') 2098 1.91
First Set (31') 1769 2.26


Tower Model
Tower Displacements along the upwind guyset axis @ 10x Scale


Tower Displacements
Elevation on Tower Displacement (In)
100' 16.15
91' 13.38
61' 7.44
31' 4.34


Results: Model 45G100C2 Load Case #2 - Wind @ 60 Degrees to guy set (Directly between two sets of guys).

Combined stress taken at the bottom end of each span.
Tower Section Combined Stress (Psi) Safety Factor
Top section (91'-100') 27879 1.79
Third Section (61'-91') 21479 2.33
Second Section (31'-61') 16354 3.06
Base section (0-31') 12485 4.00


Guy Loads
Guy Set Load (Lbs) Safety Factor
Top set (91') 3776 1.77
Second Set (61') 1906 2.10
First Set (31') 1568 2.55


Tower Model
Tower Displacements along either guyset @ 10x Scale


Tower Displacements
Elevation on Tower Displacement (In)
100' 18.27
91' 15.19
61' 8.80
31' 4.91



Comments:
This model should be compared to 45G100B & 45G100C.
This modification changes the entire problem!
The change eliminates the bending stress at the base, which was responsible for approx 70% of the stress. The new limiting factor for the design is the top tower section stress, where it is cantilevered above the top guy. The top guy load is running a close second place.
The two lower sets of guys are working harder so their safety factors went down a bit but are not a problem. Because the guys are carrying higher loads, and no change was made in their elongation behavior, the tower deflections are higher. The limiting load case changes from load case #2 to case #1.
On a free rotating base the tower really doesn't care how far it leans over, as long as it stays in column.
Overall, it is an improvement and the tower would support additional antenna loads.

Here is what happens if we add another 10 SqFt of antenna to the top of this tower

Just for giggles!

Results: Model 45G100B4 Load Case #1 - Wind @ 30 Degrees to an upwind guy set.

Tower base constraints - Fx Fy Fz representing tower base mounted on a free rotating connection.


Combined stress taken at the bottom end of each span.
Tower Section Combined Stress (Psi) Safety Factor
Top section (91'-100') 38742 1.29
Third Section (61'-91') 26436 1.89
Second Section (31'-61') 17082 2.93
Base section (0-31') 12433 4.02


Guy Loads
Guy Set Load (Lbs) Safety Factor
Top set (91') 5074 1.32
Second Set (61') 2097 1.91
First Set (31') 1703 2.35


Tower Model
Tower Displacements along the upwind guyset axis @ 10x Scale


Tower Displacements
Elevation on Tower Displacement (In)
100' 20.45
91' 16.18
61' 7.84
31' 4.11


Results: Load Case #2 - Wind @ 60 Degrees to guy set (Directly between two sets of guys).

This model was not analyzed as it became obvious that this load case was no longer limiting the tower design..

Comments:
Putting the tower on a free base connection has allowed us to increase the antenna loads by 49%.
I get kind of excited when I can find a single configuration change that results in that much improvement!!
This tower would be helped by a larger set of top guys to get it back in column.

Configuration Variant #5:

Phillystran aramid cable is a popular material for guying towers to eliminate electrical interaction that can degrade antenna performance.
If we were to select an aramid cable to replace the 1/4" EHS in the top set of guys, based on breaking strength, we would chose HPTG6700.
Let's put some HPTG6700 Phillystran on the baseline tower (buried in the footing) and also use it to replace the 3/16" EHS in the two lower sets, and see what happens.

Results: Model 45G100B5 Load Case #1 - Wind @ 30 Degrees to an upwind guy set.

Tower base constraints - Fx Fy Fz Mx My Mz representing tower buried in a concrete footing.


Combined stress taken at the bottom end of each span.
Tower Section Combined Stress (Psi) Safety Factor
Top section (91'-100') 27855 1.79
Third Section (61'-91') 38824 1.29
Second Section (31'-61') 29112 1.72
Base section (0-31') 51473 .97


Guy Loads
Guy Set Load (Lbs) Safety Factor
Top set (91') 3931 1.70
Second Set (61') 2776 2.41
First Set (31') 1545 4.34


Tower Study

Tower Displacements along the upwind guyset axis @ 10x Scale


Tower Displacements
Elevation on Tower Displacement (In)
100' 50.27
91' 41.86
61' 19.17
31' 5.81


Results: Model 45G100C3 Load Case #2 - Wind @ 60 Degrees to guy set (Directly between two sets of guys).

Combined stress taken at the bottom end of each span.
Tower Section Combined Stress (Psi) Safety Factor
Top section (91'-100') 27879 1.79
Third Section (61'-91') 42017 1.19
Second Section (31'-61') 32640 1.53
Base section (0-31') 56797 .88


Guy Loads
Guy Set Load (Lbs) Safety Factor
Top set (91') 3442 1.95
Second Set (61') 2522 2.66
First Set (31') 1209 4.76


Tower Model
Tower Displacements along either guyset @ 5x Scale


Tower Displacements
Elevation on Tower Displacement (In)
100' 55.32
91' 46.30
61' 21.60
31' 6.60

Comments:
This model should be compared to 45G100B & 45G100C

Yikes! This tower fell down (according to the EIA design spec)! When the safety factor goes below 1.00 a failure has occured.

Aramid (TM Kevlar) is very strong, but it is not as stiff as steel. The aramid guys are strong enough to carry these loads. Looking at the safety margins for breaking strength, we would expect it to be okay!
They just elongate too much, causing the combined stress at the tower base to exceed the allowable.

I'm not really sure the linear FEA analysis is providing real accurate values at this point, as the deflections have gotten out of hand.

Information to help you understand the various guy cable elongations can be found here.

Let's free up its base and see what happens

Same model as the one above, except the base has been taken out of the hole and placed on a free rotating connection.

Results: Model 45G100B6 Load Case #1 - Wind @ 30 Degrees to an upwind guy set.

Tower base constraints - Fx Fy Fz representing tower base mounted on a free rotating connection.


Combined stress taken at the bottom end of each span.
Tower Section Combined Stress (Psi) Safety Factor
Top section (91'-100') 27855 1.79
Third Section (61'-91') 40195 1.24
Second Section (31'-61') 24848 2.01
Base section (0-31') 11986 4.17


Guy Loads
Guy Set Load (Lbs) Safety Factor
Top set (91') 3902 1.72
Second Set (61') 2885 2.32
First Set (31') 1951 3.43


Tower Model
Tower Displacements along the upwind guyset axis @ 10x Scale


Tower Displacements
Elevation on Tower Displacement (In)
100' 48.14
91' 40.48
61' 20.08
31' 8.49


Results: Model 45G100C4 Load Case #2 - Wind @ 60 Degrees to guy set (Directly between two sets of guys).

Combined stress taken at the bottom end of each span.
Tower Section Combined Stress (Psi) Safety Factor
Top section (91'-100') 27879 1.79
Third Section (61'-91') 43439 1.15
Second Section (31'-61') 27437 1.82
Base section (0-31') 13087 3.82


Guy Loads
Guy Set Load (Lbs) Safety Factor
Top set (91') 3417 1.96
Second Set (61') 2439 2.75
First Set (31') 1585 4.23


Tower Model
Tower Displacements along either guyset @ 5x Scale


Tower Displacements
Elevation on Tower Displacement (In)
100' 54.44
91' 45.91
61' 22.91
31' 9.66

Comments:
Well, freeing up the base connection again improved the situation. It got the safety factors back up above 1.0, so the thing should still be standing.
This is still not a very happy tower, but it is happier than it was with the fixed base.
The top guys set is way too small for this material. This is obvious from looking at the tower displacements and the deflection plots in the FEA program.
My guess is that using HPTG 8000 or 11200 on the upper guys would help get the tower back in column.
Hopefully, this example will make it clear that, when replacing EHS steel guys with non-conducting synthetic materials, we should primarily consider elongation.
Strength is important, but it is not always what keeps our towers standing!

General Discussion


Redistributing the antenna loads along the tower:

Splitting up the rated area to several locations on the tower can be done. It can yield an ability to increase the total antenna area if the guy sizes are adjusted according to the load redistribution. If the guy sizes are not adjusted (for the catalogue designs), the total rated antenna area remains essentially the same..
As with so many other things, there is really only one best solution for any given set of conditions.

Tower Bases:

Guyed tower bases buried in the footing suffer from a system limiting feature that is caused by guy stretch. The elongation of the cable allows the tower to lean over enough to create large base bending stresses. Freeing up the tower base connection to rotate, eliminates this problem. Making this change increases the guy loads, but does not cause them to exceed acceptable safety margins.

For many years I've seen hundreds of commercial installations with tapered bases. Until now, I always wondered why the commercial installations had tapered bases and the amateur ones did not.
After looking at my new Rohn commercial catalogue, the first thing I noticed is that all sections for guyed towers from 45G and up are offered with tapered bases. One of the rigid tube towers "J" offers a roof mounting base that actually has a ball and socket connection. This is exactly what was modeled in Configuration Variant #4.

This indicates that Rohn and their commercial users understand the problem, and agree that the base of the tower should not only be free to rotate about the vertical axis to reduce torsional load development, but also be free to lean over just as far as the guys will allow. The small tapered bases sit on bearing plates on a pier pin. It is obvious from the drawings that these connections will allow enough rotation, about the horizontal axes, to prevent development of significant bending loads.

The problem with the common pier pin bases for the 25G & 45G is that they are full size sections at the tower/pier interface. The wide footprint on the pier may allow the tower to rotate about the vertical axis, but resists the ability to lean over without developing significant bending loads. In the load case #2 scenario (wind between guys), if the base was to be able to rotate far enough to eliminate the bending loads, it would be sitting on only one leg. It is unlikely that this can occur with the tower compression pushing the base against the pier. If it actually did occur, the poor downwind leg would be carrying all the tower compression.

Although not commonly used in amateur service, Rohn has a tapered base section for 45G. Ask forP/N 45TG. There are also two other sections, 45TGIA & 45TGIA47, which are made to mount on a base insulator. These are used frequently in broadcast installations. I cannot find an equivalent base section for 25G.

There has been significant discussion on amateur sites about the pros and cons of fixed vs pier pin tower bases. Most of these discussions are concerned with the full sized sections at the tower/pier interface.
During my review of the discussions, I have found that the amateur community seems to be equally divided over which type is best. Much of the discussion centers around how stable the tower feels when climbing it, the fixed base being preferred.

In spite of our varying personal preferences, on the issue, we should consider the fact that most commercial users want maximum efficiency from their tower installation, and the people who pay for the towers don't have to climb them. Most of these installations use tapered pier pin bases.

The importance of guy elongation on the system is not an original idea on my part. The EIA 222-F specification states in paragraph 3.1.2 "For guyed structures, the displacement of the mast (this means tower to us) at each guy level shall be considered when computing stresses." This acknowledges that lateral tower displacements do occur and that they contribute to stress development. I have simply presented information about where they come from, and what can be done to mitigate the problem.

Aramid Guy cables:

These are very strong and lighter than the steel cables. They exhibit higher elongation than comparable strength steel guys.
Since, some guyed towers can be sensitive to cable elongation, replacement of steel guys with aramid cannot be only done based on strength alone.
Guy elongation must be considered.


Final Comments

The preceding information is not the final word on the subject. It is simply a presentable piece of the work I have done, subject to review.
There are likely several other issues to be explored. The exercise is entirely incomplete! And likely to remain so.

Comments from others working in this area are welcome.

The preceding information is a just a study of tower behavior, using a widely recognized standard for approaching the problem.

It may have little to do with what actually happens at your site on any given day, or what you have observed you can get away with when you are not experiencing a 50 year wind event.

I believe the relative behavior presented to be accurate. And, would expect it to be repeatable under any other standard.

The anecdotal experiences of many may not agree with what I have presented, but most of those do not come with enough information to make any meaningful evaluations. They can, however, be an entertaining source for years of conjecture and discussion!

I have evaluated a couple of real life amateur installations, equiped with anemometers, that would defy "the general notion of what might be acceptable", according to the book designs, and found that the same methodology presented above showed them to be as sound as the baseline models in this study, if not better. They were not the "canned" tower configurations, they had more and/or larger guys, and had far more antennea than the catalogue designs permit.
Empirically, we know they work, because they are still standing, and we know what wind speeds they experienced. Imagine that!

I set out to satisfy my own curiosity and desire to understand what makes these things tick and develop tools to process the problem. I found what I was looking for so I can now find the best solution for my pile of treasures.

I hope it helps you with yours!

May the forces be with you!

73, Kurt, K7NV.


[Editor's note - the following is Kurt's disclaimer, but it should go without saying that this also applies to our republication of his paper]



As, is customary with everything on this website, I only offer comments to stimulate thought, and hopefully help fellow Amateurs. None of the information provided is authoritative in any manner or guaranteed to be correct. The reader is encouraged to research these subjects and make his own determinations about these things, before trying to apply them in the real world.

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