In a previous post I mentioned one of my first QRP awards and that was ARCI's KMPW award. I'm proudly displaying that award on my shack wall. I am becoming more active in QRP and it's sure a challenge running low power, especially from here in Alaska. I ordered a cable that will allow full rig control and FSK so I'm looking forward to possibly doing a bit of contesting QRP as well. Stay tuned for that one!
2011 started off a bit rough. I worked my first stint as K3Y/KL7 which went very well. I made 60 contacts in 3 hours, which is not a lot but when you are manually making the CW contacts, it's not too bad! After the contest, I was spending a bit of family time in our living room and I noticed one of the guys to my tower appearing to have excess slack. We were receiving the effects of a winter Chinook which blows in from the SE and brings warm air up from the Gulf of Alaska. Now mind you, I live in a windy area anyhow but my highest gust received was 62 mph this past weekend. Sometime during this wind storm, the bracket securing my main tower to the house literally sheered in half! After realizing what had happened, I asked my wife for her assistance and we made a mad dash outdoors to get the tower secured as best we could in the high winds.
My first order of business was dropping my beam down to roof level. Once that was accomplished, we secured the tower by adjusting guy wires and also adding a few lower guys. Thankfully, the tower stayed vertical and once the winds dropped down to 30 mph and less, I ventured out to see what I could do to get things back in operation.
I started to dig out the tower base which was under several feet of snow. I have a tilt base Rohn 25 and I had discovered that with the securing bracket broken, the rocking motion of the tower due to the wind loosened two of the three bolts securing the tower to the buried tilt section. I secured the bolts and afterward I was able to get the HF beam back to the 43 foot level. We readjusted and secured the guy wires but I also found that my 80 meter inverted V was damaged. One of the legs snapped at the balun. I was able to fix that from the roof and after some rearranging of wires, the 80 meter wire was back in service.
The bracket securing the tower to the house will have to wait until spring. I will be paying very close attention to weather forecasts for the rest of the winter. It's not uncommon to get wind of 50 to 55 mph here, we are used to that. Anything less than 50 mph is considered a breeze in these parts. It's the winds that exceed 60 mph that get my attention. Having a Hazer system on a tower makes it much tougher to guy and secure as you need for the Hazer to be able to track up and down the tower. Even though 2011 came in rough, I'm hoping it means that things can only get better from here. Now I'm looking forward to next weekend with some major contests on the horizon. My excitement might be short lived as I see we are about to receive the effects of a coronal hole throwing a high solar wind in earths direction. If that's the case, we might have some good auroral photographing opportunities as the bands will probably be very quiet.