What’s the Right tower for the job?

Customers often ask what tower should I use for a project?  Well, there are a few variables you should consider before making this decision. 

  1. One of the most important decisions you need to make before you by a tower is how fast do you need the tower.  Lead times on towers can be as long as 16 weeks depending on the tower you need. 
  • How tall does this tower need to be?
  • Towers over 190 feet must be FCC approved and require aviation lights. This can get very expensive if not properly handled.
  • What gauge tower do I need?
  • This is all dependent on how much and what type of equipment you are planning to install on the tower.  If you are using heavy equipment with high wind loads you will want to go with a larger tower.
  • What are the wind conditions in the area you are installing tower?  Do you need a tower rated for 130mph in a coastal area where you can get storm level winds or is this an area that 90mph or less will work?
  • Plan for future growth.  As an ISP you should know your demographics.  You should know if your customer growth in an area will require you to add more equipment in the future and you should plan your tower accordingly. 
  • What type of tower will be needed for the area you have available?
  • If you have the room guyed towers are usually a cheaper option and very sturdy towers but they have a large footprint because of the guyed wires.
  • Self-support towers are more expensive but have a smaller footprint and are nice looking towers.  A lot of landowners like these towers as well because they can go in a field, they do not have to mow around guyed wires and can be easily fenced in.
  • What foundation should you go with?
  • With any infrastructure tower you will need a concrete foundation. There are a couple of options depending on tower type.
  • Concrete pillar – this is a round concrete pillar that is placed at each leg with Bolt templates for mounting tower.
  • Concrete pad – this is a large square pad that you use a template for mounting the tower. 
  • Three important steps for foundation.
  • Always make sure your foundation is above grade to keep water from standing around the base of the tower.
  • Make sure you use plenty of gravel in the bottom of your foundation for proper drainage.
  • Always make sure your templates or tower sections are plum.  If you are an inch off at the bottom of the tower you will be feet off at the top of the tower.
  • Does the area you are placing the tower require stamped drawings or engineering?
  • Stamped drawing for a predesigned tower – Stamped drawings for a tower cost $300 to $1000 depending on how detailed the drawing need to be.
  • Tower engineering – If you require tower engineering the cost can be between $500 – $5000+ depending on requirements.
  • Build yourself or have someone build the tower?

Things to consider if you are going to build the tower yourself:

  1. Do you have the skills to build the tower? 
  2. Putting a tower together is not all that hard it is like a big erector set but you must make sure you are installing the correct parts in the correct place.  Where people mess up is not getting the base section level which will cause the entire tower to be off.  Another mistake is the concrete base is done incorrectly which will make the entire structure unsafe.
  3. Do you have the skills to do the concrete work for the pad?
  4. Do you have the equipment to build the tower?
  5. If you are building a G series tower, do you have a gin-pole?
  6. If you are building a self-supporting tower, do you have access to a crane?
  7. Do you have all off the concrete equipment needed to install the pad.  Trowels, grinders to cut the rebar, levels and etc.
  8.  Things to consider if you are having a professional crew install your tower.
  9. Have you taken in account the cost of having a crew build your tower?  Having a tower built can cost anywhere from a couple of thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
  10. What is your time frame?  Hiring a crew can take several months to schedule because of their prior commitments to other jobs.
  11. Is the crew you are hiring to build your tower reputable.  Sometime the cheapest crew is not always the best options for you.  Get references!!

There are a lot of things that you need to consider when building a tower, but you want to make sure you do it right the first time because errors can cost you more money in the future.  Make sure you do not get in too big of a hurry because it can be costly.  There are plenty of resources out there if you need help making the correct decisions.  I hope this was informative and wish you the best on getting your new tower.


Let’s recall a classic horror story. A delivery truck rolls into your business’ parking lot. You’ve been waiting to get these products out on worksites, so you and a couple of employees meet the truck at your receiving area. As the driver offloads your items, some things look terrible. Boxes are busted, torn open, or clearly re-taped. Poles are bent, screens are cracked, and you’re realizing the timelines on completed worksites just got longer. The echoes of unhappy customers ring in your ears.

This nightmare is a huge threat to efficiency. It slows you down and tangles you up in customer service no-mans-land. Save yourself the time and energy spent sifting through broken materials. Do not sign for the shipment. Do not allow the driver to continue offloading your materials. Take pictures of the affected items. Then, refuse the shipment.  

Refusal is a universal term in the mail carrier industry. It means what it implies. You, the consignee, have refused to take the package. The details of refusal vary with each shipping carrier, but the delivery driver has to take that shipment off your hands and return it to a distribution center for assessment. Some mail carriers will allow you to report a partial refusal, others require you to refuse the entire shipment. Policy varies, so ask the driver if you’re able to refuse the affected items only or if you should return the entire shipment.

90% of the time, you have to be present during delivery to refuse a shipment. Some consignees choose to sign for each shipment they receive, allowing them a brief review before deciding to accept their items. Signing the small, digital box tells the mail carrier “this is fine, I accept.” Referring back to the horror story, we heavily caution against signing for your items before you’ve had a chance to look at the boxes. While the driver will not wait around for you to open the boxes and inspect items, don’t sign for your delivery if the boxes are clearly in poor condition. Consignees of items that are fragile or should be handled in a specific way should refuse boxes with heavy damage outright. 

Once the shipment, partial or whole, is refused, the delivery driver takes the shipment to the distribution warehouse and reports it. The mail carrier then has to contact us and notify that you refused the products. We step in to help!

Whether you refuse the item or not, a shipping claim will have to be filed. If you accepted the shipment but later saw that there were damages, call us! Keep in mind that the timeline to a credit or a replacement is significantly shortened if you refuse a damaged or incomplete shipment. A shorter timeframe on getting your new headache fixed means less time spent catching up to projects that need to be done.

If you ever experience a problem during the shipping process after purchasing one of our items, please call us right away.

Why Your Dual Band CAPsMAN Setup Doesn’t Work

BONUS: CAPsMAN HowTo With the Least Number of Steps!

CAPsMAN is MikroTik’s centralized management system for WiFi AP’s. While not as sexy as some other out there, it has some unique features and a fairly robust interface that makes it a good choice for a lot of scenarios. There are a lot of CAPsMAN HowTo articles out there on setting up CAPsMAN but none that I found cover on minor detail that seems to trip people up every time and that is a CAP (An AP in CAPsMAN world) with two WiFi radios.=, now for 2.4 GHz and one for 5 GHz. I hope this tip helps you if your setup is not working.

If you came here looking for a HowTo, skip down and I will show you the simplest Dual BAnd CAPsMAN setup you can do with the least number of steps.

Again, there are many setup guides out there so assuming you came here because you followed one of these step by step HowTo’s and it is not working, here is where you likely fell short.

Failure to Create Separate Configs for 2.4 or 5 GHz Interfaces (yes, it matters!)

Click CAPsMAN and select the configuration Tab.

Most, if not all the guides I found only show one configuration here. If you do that, neither our 2.4 or 5 GHz radio will actually configure and begin broadcasting. In the CAP it will say that the wireless interface is being controlled by CAPsMAN but it will not broadcast or at least mine never did. To make this work with a dual band CAP you need two configurations here, one for 2.4 and one for 5 GHz. It is as simple as that. You tell CAPsMAN which configuration to use based on the wireless hardware supported mode selected, that is 802.11 a,b,g,n,ac etc.

In this example I created two configurations, one for 2.4 and one for 5GHz as follows. Again, I configured the least number of items to make a working setup with the least number of steps.




That is all for the 2.4 GHz config. The CAPsMAN controller will see the CAP capabilities and pick this config for the 2.4 radio. Then for the 5 GHz radio:




That’s it for the COnfiguration tab. Now, you need to tell CAPsMAN which radios to apply these configurations to and that is done by selecting the Wireless Hardware Mode to trigger the proper config. Since there are less properties, I can show these in a single screenshot.

Fill in only what I have show here. That should make your setup work!

BLOG UPDATE 7-7-2020 Poor Performance Fix

Andrew Cox, one of our MikroTik Guru’s and a member of The BrothersWISP submitted another “gotcha” he has seen with CAPMAN default settings that can cause performance issues. Andrew wrote the default is “probably fine for house deployments where you’ve got no neighbors close by.. but in apartment complexes it’s horrible…here’s my template for channel config – keeps to the 3 main 2.4GHz channels and extension channel XX for 5GHz scans and picks the quietest for the primary 20MHz control channel.”

To add this restriction to your channel placement and sizing, in CAPsMAN on the Channel Tab:

Create two channel plans, one for 2.4 and one for 5 GHz. In Andrew’s example, he names them wlan1 (2.4) and wlan2 (5GHz).

Once the channel plans are created, they are applied in the Config tab:

Thanks for that tip Andrew.

CAMsMAN HowTo Step by Step

Assuming you need more than a little trick to make your setup work, here is a step by step process to set up CAPsMAN. My goal here is to configure the least number of items to make a working setup with 2 different SSID’s, one for 3.4 and one for 5GHz. Yes, many of these configuration pieces can be set up as multiple policies and applied in a parent/child hierarchy but I wanted fast and simple and again, the least number of steps. I assume your CAPsMAN controller iw a working MikroTIk router (default configuration is fine) and the CAPs are also defaulted devices.

CAPsMAN Controller (Main Router)

Assuming your Local Area Network is on a bridge named bridge, first create a datapath. This tells CAPsMAN where to add the CAP wireless interfaces.

Next, you will create two configurations, one each for 2.4 and 5 GHz. If you don’t have dual-band CAPs that is fine it will still work. I have numbered the steps to help you keep them straight.







Next you will create two provisioning setups that will apply the proper configuration to the proper WiFi radio.

Finally, make sure CAPsMAN Manager is enabled:

That is it for the controller.


Now to the CAP. In this case I am using a MikroTIk hAP ac Lite. I have the default configuration in place which means both wlan radios and ether2-5 are bridged together. All I need to do is enable the device as a CAP, tell it which interfaces will be controlled and tell it where to find the CAPsMAN controller (Discovery Interface):


Once you click OK, the wireless status on the CAP will change to this:


And, on the CAPsMAN Controller you will see the CAP appear with a state of “Run”:


You will see the two radios from the cap here:


And your laptop should see both SSID’s:

That is it! You should now have a working CAPsMAN setup to which you can add lots more CAPs and control them all.

Samaritans Purse

My blogs have always been technical in nature. I see challenges faced by our customers and try to solve them using the products and technologies I know through my experience. This one is going to be very different!

For several years, I have had a relationship with an organization in North Carolina, Samaritan’s Purse. I have trained many of their technical staff in Boone, North Carolina, at my public training events and in their North Wilkesboro locations. The experience with this group has always been top notch. These guys and gals are dedicated to their jobs, and their attitudes are admirable, but more importantly, they all have a dedication to their God that influences everything they do.

This week I was fortunate enough to do yet another training at SP in North WIlkesboro. THis one was a bit different because I had the opportunity to tour their North American facility in which they have condensed other parts of their operation into one huge facility, a warehouse and office that feeds their resources into every corner of the world where they provide relief to those affected by natural disasters. This year they expanded their reach into the lives of our heroes, our warriors through Operation Heal our Patriots. What a great way to leverage the beauty of Alaska, by inviting our warriors up for a one week experience in the shadow of Denali, wives and husbands together experiencing nature, hearing the gospel, renewing their marriages and healing their wounds.

So many missions, and so many resources at their disposal, I was impressed with everything happening at SP. I took a ton of photos and watched many of their videos that describe and document the work they do. I wanted to share a few with you HERE.

If you want to learn more about Samaritan’s Purse or to make a donation, visit them HERE. To see a ton of videos documenting what they do, visit HERE. To see the photos I took, click HERE.

Creating Trunk and Access Ports on MikroTik CRS3xx Series Switches

The switch menu and configuration interface is significantly different on the CRS3xx versus the CRS1xx or CRS2xx series switches and if you are trying to configure VLANs, the process is totally different. Here is a quick HowTo for configuring VLANs on MikroTik Switches such as the MikroTik CRS309 and similar.

Here is the setup we are trying to create:

Alt text

Everything is set up through the bridge menu for the most part. Begin with the creation of the bridge and port assignments:

/interface bridge
add name=bridge1
/interface bridge port
add bridge=bridge1 interface=ether1 hw=yes
add bridge=bridge1 interface=ether2 hw=yes pvid=20
add bridge=bridge1 interface=ether3 hw=yes pvid=30
/interface bridge vlan
add bridge=bridge1 tagged=ether1 untagged=ether2 vlan-ids=20
add bridge=bridge1 tagged=ether1 untagged=ether3 vlan-ids=30
add bridge=bridge1 tagged=ether1,bridge1 vlan-ids=99
/interface vlan
add interface=bridge1 vlan-id=99 name=MGMT
/ip address
add address= interface=MGMT
/interface bridge
set bridge1 vlan-filtering=yes

The lines that people seem to skip over are:

/interface bridge
set bridge1 vlan-filtering=yes

Also, adding the VLAN ID on the access ports when you add them to the bridge don’t forget these statements at the end:


for the two access ports, in this example ether2 and ether3.

Remember that this example only works for CRS3xx series switches. if you have a 1xx or 2xx switch, it is still done through the /switch menu. Here is the same configuration for 1xx and 2xx switches:

/interface bridge
add name=bridge1
/interface bridge port
add bridge=bridge1 interface=ether1 hw=yes
add bridge=bridge1 interface=ether2 hw=yes
add bridge=bridge1 interface=ether3 hw=yes
/interface ethernet switch ingress-vlan-translation
add ports=ether2 customer-vid=0 new-customer-vid=20 sa-learning=yes
add ports=ether3 customer-vid=0 new-customer-vid=30 sa-learning=yes
/interface ethernet switch egress-vlan-tag
add tagged-ports=ether1 vlan-id=20
add tagged-ports=ether1 vlan-id=30
add tagged-ports=ether1,switch1-cpu vlan-id=99
/interface ethernet switch vlan
add ports=ether1,ether2 vlan-id=20 learn=yes
add ports=ether1,ether3 vlan-id=30 learn=yes
add ports=ether1,switch1-cpu vlan-id=99 learn=yes
/interface vlan
add interface=bridge1 vlan-id=99 name=MGMT
/ip address
add address= interface=MGMT
/interface ethernet switch
set drop-if-invalid-or-src-port-not-member-of-vlan-on-ports=ether1,ether2,ether3

I hope this post saves you some time and head scratching!

Ubiquiti Unifi Video NVR Upgrade Fails

Yesterday I got tired of the nagging “Update Available” on my Ubiquiti Video NVR so I went through the upgrade process in the web GUI. It failed with Error 400. I tried several times, several browsers, same error. I then went to the CLI and attempted an apt-get update, apt-get upgrade, etc and no joy getting the new version of Unifi Video.

I then downloaded the latest version and attempted to install with dpkg and got this:

In addition, it removed my previous version and so my Ubiquiti NVR was dead in the water. I did some Googling and found many, many posts with all kinds of fixes, none of which worked. I began getting upgrade remorse, fearing I had forced too many upgrades and thoroughly corrupted my OS. Ugh. I then found this post and copy/pasted it verbatim.

apt-get clean
rm /etc/apt/sources.list
echo 'deb http://archive.debian.org/debian/ wheezy main contrib non-free' >> /etc/apt/sources.list
echo 'deb http://archive.debian.org/debian/ jessie-backports main' >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/openjdk.list
echo 'deb http://archive.debian.org/debian/ jessie main' >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/openjdk.list
apt-get update -o Acquire::Check-Valid-Until=false
apt-get install -y -t jessie-backports openjdk-8-jre-headless
rm /etc/apt/sources.list.d/openjdk.list
apt-get update

Whala! All of these commands actually ran without much error other than warnings and boom, Unifi loaded. The issue was my Java version and Wheezy was reluctant to upgrade past version 7, hence my earlier issues.

So, if you want to upgrade to version 3.10.5, expect some issues but this worked for me. Good luck!

Using MikroTik LHG as a UE With a Baicells eNodeB

MikroTik LHG – RBLHGR&R11e-4G

This has been a dream for a long time, and a DIY project for those industrious individuals willing to cobble it together, but now it is a reality in a production device.

First of all why would you want to do that? Well, would you like advanced features at the customer location like Layer2 via EoIP or VPLS, rate limiting at the UE, advanced queueing, a more directional antenna and on an on, all the cool features we enjoy with RouterOS? It is here in the MikroTik LHG.

To make the LHG work with your Baicells eNodeB, first understand what it will not do. First, it will not show up in the CloudCore as a UE. So, to manage it remotely you will need to use an ACS with TR-069 or Unimus or some other management system. Secondly, some people have reported it will not connect to the base station as fast as other UE’s but the throughput speeds are generally better.

The only real configuration required is to insert a registered SIM card in the device and boot it up. There has been some debate whether or not the default APN has to be changed in the LTE setup. We have seen it work with no changes to the APN and other times the APN Name has to be changed to 1 . Some people claim you have to uncheck bands other than Band 43.

So, we are going to set one up here at our office and test it on our Baicells LTE network and post the results back here. If you have any experience, please email me through our Support System and let me know. I will include your experiences and comments here. Good luck!

UPDATE 5-1-19

I set up one here in our office. The only setting I made was to set the Band to Band 43 only. I used the default APN and it connected immediately. The one challenge I had was getting the SIM in correctly, it is not obvious. It did not work the first way I had it. I called Jim Bouse and he sent me his config which matched mine and so I tried flipping the SIM and it came right up. Here is how it goes in the slot:

Here are the property pages of my LTE interface:

I think this is a great setup!

New ISP Supplies App

Now available on the Playstore and the iPhone Appstore, the ISP Supplies App! With great features like a powerful search engine and a reorder list, it makes it fast and easy to place orders on the go.

  • Favorite products for quick access
  • Reorder products on the go
  • Product search
  • View order status
  • Download invoices
  • Synced cart across devices

We put a lot of time and effort into this app to make it easy to sue and hope you will enjoy it!