Constructing a radio mast part 1

This first week I have helped Zach where ever I can on the Internet expansion project he as started for the schools in the
surrounding region.

Basically the plan is to beam a radio signal from an independent network provider in Bungoma ,
google maps coordinates 0.566756,34.560685 (enter these numbers including the comma in the google maps search box), to
a school in Kakapel (0.672797,34.353156).  The distance is approximately 20 miles.  Kakapel is one of the highest elevation
shools in the region, so the hope is that Kakapel can then be the hub for several schools.  From Kakapel, shorter distance lower
cost radios will be used to extend the internet to schools no further than about 7 miles away.  One problem we are running into
is the hilly terrain is causing some line of  site issues.

The first steps of the process is to erect ratio masts.  Kakapel’s will be a 120 foot mast.  A 50 foot mast is also being
constructed at the Mission House where we are staying.

The construction process is quite different than what we experience back home.  Zach has hired a local “general contractor” named
Titus, and he is someone who knows people, and is someone Zach can trust.  Titus’ role is to go around finding workers, supplies,
and transportation for the project.

I will describe the effort here at the mission house so far.  On Wednesday, the location of the mast and the guide wire anchors
were layed out in the backyard.  The central base needs to be 4ft X 4ft and 5ft deep.  The guide wire anchor holes need to
be 2ft X 2ft and 4ft deep.  The four holes will require about 5 yards of concrete.  Titus contracted two locals to come and dig the holes.  Using
a large hoe and shovels, the four holes were dug in about 2 hours.  While they were digging, Titus was out trying to find sand, large
gravel, cement, and water.  NThe first to arrive was the sand in a cart drawn by two donkeys, then gravel came by truck.  The cement
comes in 50Kg bags (110 pounds), and those showed up on bicycles.  Finally the water had to be found and brought to the mission house.
I think it required around 60 gallons.  Bicycles were used for this as well.  3 water cans were used, so it took several trips to gather
the water.  No other work happened on Wednesday.


Once all the supplies were gathered, the mixing of the concrete started.  The workers cleared a patch of ground about 10
feet across by removing the top layer of grass.  There a layer of sand, followed by gravel, and topped off with cement were
layed down.  These materials were dry mixed first, and then water was added.  After the first batch of concrete was prepared,
the holes started to be filled using a wheel barrow.  This process was repeated until the angle iron guidewire hooks and the
steel mast base were firmly seated in concrete.  This took most of the day on Thursday.

On Monday, Titus and Humphrey (who works for the independent internet provider) will begin erecting the mast.

Later in the week, we hope to begin some initial tests.

I’ll post some pictures when I can.


7 thoughts on “Constructing a radio mast part 1”

  1. I will try to write a little of what they have told me on the phone since it is hard for them to post. They are working from a phone card and a dial up system to post.
    Cameron: working with medical mission. He said that the hospital has five small buildings. He said that 2 are men and womens buildings, an AIDS clinic, a maternity building and he mentioned a pharmacy. He has spent time shadowing the African Dr. and worked in the pharmacy. There is a medical student from Indiana there also. Cameron rides a taxi/small bus called an mtoto (I think) to and from the hospital. It costs 20. Shillings per ride which is about a quarter. Cameron is able to eat while at the hospital. The hospital prepares chipatti (bread) and tea for the patients and Cameron eats this also. He will try to take pictures.
    In the afternoon sometimes Cameron works with will in the schools. He said the children like his watch because it lights up.
    Will: Will and two girls from Parkersburg, WV help in different schools. They have been helping teach the children. They help them on log onto the computer and navigate. They had to stop the other day because the computer batteries ran out of power. They are powered by solar energy. There is not any electricity in schools. Will said that he and one of the girls have not been feeling well. He is taking pepto bismol. Will walks to the schools with the WV girls.
    There are coke stands around and they have bought drinks. They found orange and Mango squash ( a favorite of mine from when I was in Tanzania!). When they drove to the rain forest, the stopped in a large store that sold many things–they said it was like a k mart or WalMart. They don’t have souvineers anywhere but did have a tailor stop to see if they needed anything…I think the word got out that they were missing lugguage and wearing the same clothes for 5 days.
    Rainforest: I know they really enjoyed it and saw monkeys. They will tell more on all of these subjects.
    Brent was able to write quite a bit on everything that he has told me. I haven’t heard anything about opportunities for star gazing.
    Weather: They told me it has been in the 80’s and is hot.

  2. Have there been younger children than Will working with the students? Any comments on Will’s braces? Is Cameron a giant or are you around Masai ( I need a Swahili spell check)? Are there children and family members at the hospital who come and stay for days with their family member who is sick? Maybe a ball could be provided to the hospital for children who are just there waiting. What do you do with your down time?
    Any favorite food? Is it Mango season?

  3. July 24,
    Just spoke to Brent Cameron and Will:
    Cameron said they had gone to church and had liked the service. He thought it was somewhat in the style of Peterkin.
    Will tried ugali ( a corn meal mush type dish) today with beef stew. He said the meat tastes different and he wasn’t used to it.
    They visited someone new but I don’t remember the name.
    They were in a town with a store and were able to buy a couple movies to watch at Zach’s.
    Will said the kids laugh all of the time. They have asked about the braces on his teeth and ofcourse would think that that is an unusual thing to do. Will said the school system was very different but did not go into detail. Cameron did say that everyone looks at him because he is so tall. Cameron is excited to begin another week. He loves working with the Doctors.
    Brent always talks just for a couple minutes because his card is always running low. He said everyone is fine and assures me that he is taking into consideration safety with any endeavors including a possible trip to Uganda.
    I know everyone will hear much more from them when they return but I wanted to share what I can.
    They both love Kenya

  4. Sharon,
    Thanks for keeping us posted. I am so delighted that they are all having a great time. What a wonderful opportunity! Hope Will doesn’t get too sick…that would take the fun out of it!

  5. I am curious about church. Did the service last long? Was it in English? Were there worship books? Was there communion?

    1. Hi Bill,

      The service was about 2 hours and it was in english. They have the Swahili service at 7:00am. We got there before that service was finished, and there were probably 200+ people in the early service, and over a 100 in the english service. The sunday school had close to a hundred kids as well. I took some video and will show everyone when we get home.


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