Mystery Antenna, Seatcp Digest, Vol 108, Issue 24

Jim VE6FD at
Fri Aug 24 10:43:46 PDT 2012

/Steve Stroh wrote:
"Jim: It looks to me like a microwave unit, likely for a frequency of 3 GHz
or higher. It's "box'ish" because (if I'm correct) it's an integrated
radio and antenna - the feedline is for power and data. Or, if the
feedline is coax / hardline, it's (again, if I'm correct) an
integrated final stage / power amp / antenna and the IF and power are
going over the coax / hardline.

These are becoming commonly deployed as high speed Internet Access,
especially in rural areas where it's not cost effective to deploy

Steve, sounds like a good guess - I wondered the same, if it might not be an integrated gigahertz-range antenna and radio, if only because location-wise, it's not likely to be any sort of TV antenna. I received some further info - "the box" is in the boonies in North-Central Saskatchewan, and from its location the front flat side is pointing slightly West of due South. There are a couple of towns 25-30 miles South. Given that there's not much hi-grade telephone line out that way, and no fiber-optic cable, and also no TV station within range, a point-to-point microwave unit for Internet is probably what it is. I read that there was some kind of Saskatchewan Provincial Government initiative to make high-speed internet available out in the sticks, so if this was the "receiving" end of an Internet link that would fit in.

I _have_ seen similar boxes - took me a while to remember where - deployed at oil well head sheds or compressor stations, and pointed toward someplace there's a microwave tower.

Long ago when I was but a youth, we used to install VHF alarm radios at these well sites, using old Motorola 25 watt VHF tube rigs and VHF yagis, all on a common frequency, with some rudimentary analog telemetry (Fire yes/no?!) plus a recorder and tape loop, all connected to the mic input. If a fault developed, a relay would switch on the contraption, and the cassette tape player, "play" button left depressed, would say the name of the site, i.e. "Emergency. Well 93. Emergency, Well 93." (I remember making the loop cassettes in the back shop). The whole mess was housed in an insulated wooden box with a 100 watt light bulb and a thermostat, so that it would be kept warm enough to work during the winter.

Nowadays, at these sites there's just a little box with a combined radio and antenna. Digital telemetry from the wellhead sensors (I assume) is transmitted in the direction of a central tower (and presumably thence to awaken some poor schlub who has to climb into his truck at 3 in the morning, 30 below zero, and drive out to whichever well is indicating a fault).

So, if the same technology were being used to leapfrog high-speed Internet into the boonies, it would make perfect sense. (There are no oil wells, nor anything else of interest around the tower area, apparently - just a house on a quarter-section of bush).

Many thanks

Jim Dawe VE6FD at

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