PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — To the average person, it was a couple of helicopters buzzing about some TV antennas on Saturday. To the trained eye, it was the installation of a powerful new antenna. CBS3’s engineering team says it’ll deliver a better over-the-air signal for our views in the Delaware and Lehigh Valleys.
— Joe Holden (@JoeHoldenCBS3) November 14, 2020
About a dozen workers were up to some high-flying maintenance on CBS3’s and the CW-Philly’s TV towers in Roxborough on Saturday. We strapped a go-pro on one worker as a two-piece antenna was bolted to the 1,350-foot TV transmission tower.
From the ground, piece number one was hosted by a specialized chopper — an aircraft normally used to fight forest fires out west. That part of the antenna weighs 20,000 pounds.
Michael Scharff is CBS Chief Engineer.
“There is a mounting base already sitting on top of that antenna, which the bottom antenna will attach to,” Scharff said.
They’ll use a total of 24 10-inch long galvanized bolts.
“The tower crew that’s here, they’ll several will be up there, guiding with hand signals, guiding down to proper location and orientation,” Scharff said.
The eight tower guys remained in place for a few hours. We sent Chopper 3 to keep them company while that custom chopper refueled and returned to lift the second piece.
The work is part of an FCC mandate to improve CBS3 and CW-Philly’s signals and create additional space for cellular networks.
“These tower climbing crews and helicopter crews are doing this work across the country and everybody kind of has to wait in line for their turn,” Scharff said.
With daylight soon to fade, the second piece of the antenna was delicately lowered into place. The job caught the attention of those on the ground.
When fired up, the antennas will push a megawatt of power.
The work might be nerve-wracking for some. The tower is 200 feet taller than Philly’s highest skyscraper, but those views will make it all worth it 1,350-feet up.
If all goes to plan, our engineers say the signal could be up and running as early as Thursday.
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