Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fun Summer, Rough Winter

I live in a pretty windy area and it's common to receive 50-60 mph wind gusts here. Any issues with guying or antenna's that are not well constructed will show themselves in a matter of time. Just yesterday, one of my antenna's "bit the dust" and will no longer see action. This would be my Diamond 2m/70cm dual band antenna. While I was working in our kitchen, I heard a loud bang of something striking our metal roof. I have my HF beam lowered for troubleshooting and thought it may be on of my wire antennas that happen to be hanging low. Upon close inspection, I found that the 54 mph wind gusts took it's toll on my X500HNA.Snapped the fiberglass underneath the bottom element which sent the top part flying. After striking my roof, I found it laying on the ground near the back of our house. 

The Diamond antenna site states this antenna will withstand 90 mph wind with no ice. Well, apparently a common winter wind of 50-60 mph must equal 90 mph as my antenna failed this winter. Sadly, I don't have a spare on hand and this won't see a replacement until next summer. On the positive side, my long time friend and neighbors, KL1SF & KL1MF, have relocated to Arizona, so I would not be doing much chatting anyhow. But, with that said, I had plans of operating as a digi for APRS and now that will have to wait as well. I do have a Cushcraft 124WB that I may try to place in service but not sure I can beat the weather.

Continuing with my antenna saga, my HF beam appears to have a trap issue. Close inspection of the beam shows no problem and even though it has taken a much worse beating that my dual band vertical, it has held up wonderfully. Last year during a RTTY contest, I was running high power and my gut feeling tells me a trap received a bit more than it could take. Mosley's website has a trouble shooting guide and from what I have reviewed, my 15 meter trap(s) have failed. So, I have a note into Mosley to find out about replacements. Yes, I could take them off and fix them but I would like to have a spare set anyhow. I have a flat match on 10 meters but 15 and 20 are poor with 15 being a super high SWR. So, there is no doubt in my mind a trap failed due to an over active AL-1500 in one of my RTTY contest pursuits.

What does this all mean for my station?  I will be much quieter than normal this winter operating from my ground mounted vertical and a few wires if I can't beat the weather with getting my HF beam fixed. Possibly not a bad thing as I have lots of remodeling work to do around our house. I may have to find another hobby or actually, I was thinking of gutting my shack and remodeling it. A few other locations in our house have a higher priority but with the looming dark and cold season, I could get plenty accomplished if I gave up my normal contest weekends for remodeling. I will be on, but my signal won't be as strong and you probably won't find me on as often if my antenna repairs fail to beat the arrival of our normally harsh weather. 

In conclusion, I'm extremely happy with my Mosley TA-34-XL and it has withstood the extreme weather conditions we experience here in our part of Alaska. The Diamond however did not, and it will eventually be replaced. In the mean time, as you can see from the photo above, I won't need a wind sock as I will always be able to tell which way the wind is blowing as the guts to my Diamond will be flapping in the wind.  

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