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Old 11-09-2016, 07:48 PM
 
Location: Back and Beyond
2,992 posts, read 3,544,339 times
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Any tower lovers out there? Surely we all dream of our own lookout tower to gaze out at the wilderness and of course for zombie apocalypse protection purposes.

I'm planning out a project for next summer. I would really like to get above the tree line for 360 degree 100 mile views. Ideally, the tower would be at least 20 feet tall with a small deck say 12x12-16x16 on top. 30 feet would be even better but I'm trying to keep things as reasonably sane when it comes to physics and on the cheaper side and within average DIY builder parameters. Of course I also want it to be safe. Let's say $10k max budget. Is this possible? It would be cool to resemble an old forestry fire lookout tower.

I have access to some new utility poles ranging in size from 25' to 50' long but will probably go with the 30 footers. Was thinking about getting some and having someone with drilling equipment come and set them 7-10 feet in the ground. Then cross bracing the ****e out of it. And finally building a deck/observatory on top. That would give me my desired 20 feet.

I'm open to criticsm, suggestions and alterations in my design. I am also interested in pictures, ideas or descriptions of towers/platforms/deer blinds/etc.

Basically, I'm just in the dreaming/planning phase of building a future observation tower and would love to hear how you've built one or how you would build one if you were to build a tower. The more cost effective the better. Thanks for any replies!
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Old 11-09-2016, 08:39 PM
 
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If you already have the poles, it's just a matter of engineering the tower setup. To start, I would recommend looking at existing wood observation towers on the internet and get a sense of how they were built in the past. You can also look at the standard security observation towers from companies like Panelbuilt or Portaking and see the metal equivalents. Also see if the Forest Fire Lookout Association has any picture of towers close to what you envisioned.
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Old 11-09-2016, 08:56 PM
 
Location: Back and Beyond
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^Thanks. I have checked out countless pictures of fire towers and have read some other various articles and forums of homemade tower experiences, but definitely need to do more research.

I have heard of someone getting engineered plans from the forest service themselves for fire towers and maybe will go that route if it's a reasonable fee. I doubt my version would be nearly as tall as a real fire lookout tower but would still like to over engineer it. I do get the occasional 100 mph wind gust. I would hate for it to blow away or otherwise fail and topple over. I have built a few pole barns before but never a tower.
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Old 11-09-2016, 09:30 PM
 
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The forest service towers have withstood various punishing environmental systems and many are still standing. I'll check the industry feed in the morning and see if any towers or tower parts are for sale. I know there are currently several full towers up for auction, but you'll have to buy, dismantle and move them. I also recall several security towers (gitmo style) being sold by the DOD. I'll check to see if any X-cons are up for sale as many were converted for functional (building) use instead of just storage and transport. They at least have window/door and hatch openings.

Another option is stacking the levels. Build a main floor designed to have a second story attached to it. Each additional floor is designed to stack independently on top of the lower floor. The concept is similar to how intermodel containers are stacked. The support structure will be the exterior pole frame that mates to the exterior frame of the unit below. Instead of dealing with long heavy poles possibly requiring outside heavy equipment and help (along with their eyes and mouths) you may be able to handle this with simpler onsite tools. It;s all in the structural connectors.
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Old 11-10-2016, 12:34 AM
 
Location: In the gawdforsaken desert
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The tower guards are always the first to die, when the tower gets blown up by a well placed explosive arrow.
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Old 11-10-2016, 05:03 AM
 
Location: Backwoods of Maine
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I don't think that 20 or even 30 feet is going to give you a view over the treeline - unless you are on very high ground. An LP/OP does not need to be that high. In fact, too high will reduce visual and audio pickup from what's on the ground.

About a year ago, I started a thread about using tree stands for 'property management' and very few picked up on the value of that system. I now like the idea of a tree stand leading to a higher tree house (just a platform, really) leading higher to another tree platform. By choosing the right tree, you could get higher than 30 feet, would not have to sink any poles, and would have a sturdier, more windproof ground anchor whose strength comes from its own living flexibility.

I now also favor the use of small drones with video cameras aboard. Used on your own land (I do not advocate "spying" on others) and nearby remote roads or park areas, it will give you excellent remote footage from far higher than you could get, without an airplane or glider. Some are now under $100, and will allow you to monitor the "back 40" or your surrounding roads in a SHTF situation. I now consider 1-2 of these to be essential for security.
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Old 11-10-2016, 05:54 AM
 
Location: Nebraska
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I think drones and/or remote video surveillance to be far more valuable. With this system, they won't know they are being watched and the home owner has the upper hand. Most of the surveillance system do not even require some one to watch. They have motion detection and will send a signal to your smart phone through local WIFI or through the cell towers if you are not home.. Another thing, don't ever forget about the value of having dogs.

A tower is actually more valuable to the invader then the home owner. An invader now knows how to approach without being seen and they also know that a tower represents a value target that most likely as something worth taking.
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Old 11-10-2016, 06:16 AM
 
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Here's a pic of one we built as a stand for hunting deer.

4 poles in the ground. I think we went 8' down. Poles are set to make 2 platforms, 8x8' square.

The ladder from ground to the lower platform is removed to avoid it being an attractive nuisance.

This is when we were roughing it out. The upper platform is now completely enclosed with windows and such.

As mentioned, this is for hunting. It doesn't matter if the deer see you. In general, your stand would be seen by people before you see those people. If something more stealthy is desired, consider finding a nice tall tree then put a tree stand on it. A 20' stand only costs about $200 and setup is quick.
Attached Thumbnails
Tower ideas? Building an observation/lookout tower using telephone poles?-mvc-779f.jpg  
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Old 11-10-2016, 10:03 AM
 
Location: Back and Beyond
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Nor I remember us talking about tree strand towers a while back, but couldn't find the thread. If you can find it, maybe post a link to it here?

Also, my trees are pretty small up here. I'd say in the average range of 20-25 feet tall. So by putting a 20-30 foot tower in the middle of my land, I would hope to get some good views. They are spruce with shallow root systems so using existing trees would not work in my situation. Although I agree with you that an existing tree would work great if it was the right kind.

I appreciate the drone suggestions, but this tower is mainly for epic views, not surveillance or protection. I was kidding about the zombie protection part . I'd love to be able to see more of the mountains, rivers and glaciers that are nearby. I've been using my telescope as of late and an zoom in on Dahl sheep on the mountains behind my house. I'd love to be able to bring the scope up there and look around. Basically a place to observe and chill vs a place to defend. It would be pretty cool to climb up there when the northern lights are out good as well. I don't care if anyone can see me while I'm up there. I'd invite them up for a beer to check out the view.

RyanR, thanks for sharing the deer blind pic. I'm thinking something similar to this but on a bit bigger scale. Curious, how did you dig down the 8 feet?

As for other tower ideas I could build a 60 foot diameter metal geodesic dome frame with a platform on top. That would give me a 30 foot high platform and require no drilling or posts. I'd also have a giant building underneath then as well. I could also build a 30 foot geodesic sphere which would look like an interesting giant golf ball and also give me my desired height.

A fellow Alaskan built his own tower outside of FBX. It's 75 feet tall with a 16 sided house perched on top. It also rotates 360 degrees and has an elevator. He refers to it as the Fairbanks Space Needle. One of his friends fell off and died during a party https://www.adn.com/fairbanks/articl...le/2015/10/01/.

Tragedy aside, that is a pretty cool tower. Mine won't be quite so elaborate but maybe he was onto something by burying the crane.

Another Alaskan has built the "dr suess" house. He kept adding on smaller story after ever smaller story until he had like 10+ stories. It looks like it's out of a dr suess book. It also looks like it could fall over at anytime but hasn't. Unusual Alaska houses, Part 3: 'Dr. Seuss House' - KTVA 11 I think Rabrrita mentioned something like this, keep building up using conventional framing vs drilling and setting long posts... Maybe the way to go.

I could also get some shipping containers out here and potentially stack them 3 high. I want to get a couple shipping containers out here anyways.... Enough of them to build a tower out of could add up quick though. They are about $2,500 delivered to me for the 20 footers.
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Old 11-10-2016, 10:18 AM
 
1,344 posts, read 2,989,776 times
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We just used a backhoe for the digging for the posts. Same backhoe stood the posts up.

If you plan on taking a tripod based terrestrial or celestial scope up there, you may be disappointed. For any luck at a high-power zoom, the wind has to be dead calm and there can be zero movement by anyone in the stand.
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