Hams oppose tower project

A recent article, “Radio towers spark high wattage opposition,” in the online edition of All Point Bulletin, the community newspaper of Point Roberts, WA, caught my eye. At issue is the construction of five, 150-ft. AM radio towers. According to the article, “The antennas will produce a broadcasting signal for KPRI Ferndale 1550 AM which bills itself as ‘your number 1 South Asian voice.’ The company currently broadcasts at 50,000 watts during the day and 10,000 watts at night.”

Towards the bottom of the article, this paragraph appears:

Ham radio operator Steve Wolff told the crowd that Point Roberts’ ham radio club members were unanimous in their opposition to the towers. Citing an objection filed with the FCC, he recounted how one ham radio operator in Ferndale had received burns from the radio energy captured by his radio tower from the KRPI broadcasts.

First, I find it quite ironic that amateur radio operators would actually oppose a tower-construction project. Second, I’ve never heard of anyone getting RF burns from his tower from a broadcast signal. Seriously, how close would the amateur radio tower have to be to the broadcast tower to capture enough power to cause an RF burn?

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  1. Ned WB4BKO says:

    Very intimate relationship between towers. Must be a mutual conduction attraction of high flux density proportions with inductive reactance and ohmic losses. Guess we know whon has the power factor and it isn’t Mr Colpits.

  2. There is actually often considerable effort undertaken to detune metal objects around broadcast towers because they distort the radiation pattern. If the ham’s tower/antennas were indeed carrying enough current to give him an RF burn, the engineers would probably be interested in fixing that, not just from a safety standpoint! And, if the engineers weren’t interested, the FCC might be since field-strength is pretty heavily regulated.

    Unless you’re a diehard 160-meter operator (and even then, usually), living near an AM broadcast station is usually a minor annoyance. We have dozens of AM stations in the DC-Baltimore area, at least one running 50 kW day and night. Yes, we have mixes and spurs but they aren’t too bad. A few hams have overload problems on 160 but a notch or bandpass filter usually cures that right up.

    Based on a few shreds of information in the article, I’m inclined to be a bit cynical about the motivations of the hams involved, but I’ll keep politics out of it.

  3. My BS meter is pegged, I live really near to a 1,000W, Class B, WWCA and have never had any RF problems. As far as interference YES, you can forget about SWLing at night.

  4. It seems to me that the only way this could have happened is if the tower was not properly grounded. If the tower is properly grounded, there shouldn’t be any RF energy left, at least, not that much. In addition the tower would have to be the perfect wavelength. Essentially, these two conditions could cause a resonance in the tower that could cause it to act something like a capacitor. But I bet if they simply grounded their tower properly, the issue would go away.

  5. Bob Hillman, VE7EK says:

    As a holder of both US and Canadian Amateur Radio Licenses, I’ll chime in from a Canadian Amateur’s perspective this time. The BBC (you gotta love how they try to dress up their pedigree) have applied to site their 50,000 watt transmitter along with a switchable 5-tower array within a half mile of housing and residential areas. My biggest beef is the subterfuge that surrounds this application. There appears to be evidence that the applicants who wish to continue to own and operate a “US Broadcasting Station” do not meet the requirements for US ownership and control as required by FCC Regulations. Further this station is being built to serve residents of the BC Lower Mainland (Canada). If that is their aim they need to find a way (if they indeed qualify) to operate in Canada, subject to Canadian Regulations.

  6. David Ryeburn says:

    Bob Hillman refers to the BBC. Without judging the merit or otherwise of the Point Roberts, WA installation I think it should be pointed out that BBC in this case does NOT stand for British Broadcasting Corporation, which is what most people would assume it stands for. This is a competely different outfit.

    David, VE7EZM and AF7BZ

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