I'm working with the local telecom provider to get internet access to a remote property in California.

There is a 5' tall 8x8 pressure treated post with an electric meter and some other equipment mounted to it. Electric service runs underground from a utility pole about 30' away, which is on the property.

I'd like to put an ~18 foot tall mast on this post so that the telecom provider can do an aerial drop from the utility pole to the mast. One option seems to be 1-1/2" or 2" rigid metal conduit. One issue is I can only find it locally in 10' lengths, so I'd have to use a threaded coupling to go higher, which seems like a weak spot. Also, I'm not sure if such a tall mast is going to be rigid enough to support the aerial drop. Is there some better way to do this?

  • Rigid conduit is not made for masting. You'd need to get a mast and affix the Rigid to it or just use PVC at that point. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 5 at 21:29
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica thanks for the comment! What is a "mast"? Searching online for such an item doesn't turn up much. – Robin Davis Jan 5 at 21:53
  • A mast is a thing actually made to do that thing you want to do. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 5 at 22:19
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica Cool, sounds like just what I need then. Can you provide a link or the name of a manufacturer? – Robin Davis Jan 5 at 22:34

It's probably unknowable whether or not that 8x8 post is capable of supporting an 18 foot lever, er mast, attached to it. What is the strength of the wood? How deeply is it set in the ground? Etc.

Will the telecom make any requirements as to the materials of the mast? Steel tubing and pipe can often be had in continuous lengths up to 24 feet; you could set one of these in the ground and let it be your mast.

This seems like a lot of trouble to make a drop spanning only 30 feet.

I presume you're wanting that 30 feet aerial because it crosses something that can't easily be trenched -- a driveway, perhaps. I'd find a way to make the crossing underground and let the telecom attach conduit to descend the utility pole and meet with your underground conduit.

Underground construction can be soils dependent, but some techniques I'm familiar with are these:

  • Hire a contractor to bore a hole with a pneumatic piercing tool, commonly called a "missle" or "mole"
  • Bore (erode) a tunnel manually with running water, either directly from a hose or with the help of a pump eg pressure washer
  • Cut-and-patch: saw cut the pavement, trench normally, then backfill and patch
  • Thanks! I was coming to the same conclusion that going underground is the better option. – Robin Davis Jan 5 at 22:36
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    I have a customer that is a rock quarry and we have tried aerial communication drops a few times. No matter how high we make them sooner or later someone figures out how to snag them with something. People are very inventive when it comes to doing that. You will be much happier later if you just go underground. How wide is the driveway you are trying to go under? If it's not too wide you may be able to bore it with a 1" galvanized steel pipe in a trench and a lot of wacking with a sledge hammer, keep the pipe open and clean it out later with a water hose once you make it through. – Ted Mittelstaedt Jan 6 at 5:58

In my years of cable television, specifically a small over-builder operation, I participated in erecting plenty of tiny remote head-ends which required off-the-air signals. Antenna tower segments of ten foot lengths nested to each previous segment to provide the necessary height. The tower segments are common, moderately priced (useless reference) and quite sturdy. The typical installation might have been forty feet and was not guyed, but was buried in concrete about five feet. Because you're intending to place lateral stress by attaching a drop, you'd want at least a single guy in the opposing direction.

Image courtesy of above linked site:

tower segment

Optionally, the 8x8 post could support a single larger diameter pipe which could be secured with down guys in at least three directions. This may be less expensive, as the above noted segment is US$128 for ten feet. You may be able to find local sources for either, to save shipping costs.

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