Antenna mounting structures
The most obvious part of a station is the antenna mounting structure. This is also usually the most difficult part to install so picking the right structure for your site is essential.
There are countless ways to install a Motus station and it’s not always clear which is best. Here are a number of different installation methods used across the Motus network to help you decide which setup suits your location best.

Pop-tower

These are very common setups since they can be deployed almost anywhere, but the weight of the materials can be prohibitive. This type of tower is most-often limited by its height with anything taller than 50′ require a more robust and professional-grade installation.

Common setup locations

  • Hilltops
  • Clearcuts
  • Sea/Lakeshore
  • General open spaces
Unfortunately, this type of structure is more vulnerable to wind/ice damage and corrosion so it’s typical to require a mast replacement within 5 years, especially when exposed to salt spray or fog.
Pop-tower stations are typically built using a tripod and 30-40′ popup mast from Wade Antenna. In some instances antennas can be installed on a mast alone, like on a sand dune (see picture below). Lots of other equipment is required for these installations, including: guy lines (3/32 recommended), guy line anchors (~4′ rebar), quick links or carabiners (to attach guy lines to mast), aluminum angle-iron for solar panel mount, and lightening protection (if deemed necessary). A comprehensive list of equipment and installation guide is currently in development.
Stations can also be installed on rooftops using a non-penetrating roof mount and masting.

Long-term

It is highly recomended for collaborators to install a tower that is intended for longer-term use which typically involves a DMX tower. While installing this type of tower can be a significant increase in cost from the pop-tower, it will reduce your overall long-term expense. These structures have fewer individual parts and are stronger than the pop-up masts so require less maintenance and do not need to be guyed giving it a smaller footprint. Certain models of DMX tower can be attached to a building, cutting costs significantly.

Common setup locations

  • Buildings
  • Parks
  • Interpretive Centres
  • Forests
Wade Antenna sells DMX-style towers in 8′ sections, making them fairly transportable like pop-towers. There are two main types: self-supported and bracketed. Self-supported towers require a concrete base which severely limits it’s portability and will most often require professionals for proper installation. Bracketed towers do not require a concrete base and are commonly used to mount TV aerials in rural communities. DMX-style towers can be built as tall as 68′ which is often necessary to reach above the forest canopy.

Fire Tower

The Northeast Motus Collaborative has had a lot of success getting permission to install antennas on fire towers across the state of Pennsylvania. This is an ideal situation for any collaborator since it significantly reduces costs, maintenance, and risk of vandalism or theft and also provides an excellent vantage point and sometimes a reliable power supply.
This is an example of a creative approach that has been very beneficial for the whole network. Not every strucutre is in a perfect location nor is every structure clear of vegetation and safe to climb so everything must still be assessed on a case-by-case basis. While you may not have the same success with fire towers in your region, it’s still worth thinking outside the box to help reduce the costs and time investment.

Commercial Tower

Some researchers have had success with installing antennas on commercial telecommunications towers. These are often in great locations and are usually powered, but they require a professional climber (+$1000 in fees) and sometimes rental fees.

Co-locating

There is an unlimited number of ways antennas can be mounted, it all depends on location. Co-locating a station can save on costs and is often necessary for some locations.

Common setup locations

  • Telephone pole
  • Weather station
  • Railings
  • Ships
  • Lighthouses