March 21, 2022 at 8:47 am #2156Phillip BeallParticipant
A bunch of Club members gathered at the Atlas site on Sunday, March 21, 2022, at 0600. In no particular order, George Haneke (NV7Z), Gary Sorensen (K9AIA), Phillip Beall (W5EBC), Charles Penry (WA5VHU), Chris Teague (WB5YPO), Dr. Randy Holland (N5DDS) and Mark Johnson (KI5MOO) were the ground team. Hard hats, gloves and reflective vests were the order of the day. Tower climber James (Jim) Hunt (KI5DQ) was on the tower at 0840.
There were so many obstacles on the tower it took Hunt about 2.5 hours to get into position at the top. The first thing down was an old fiberglass antenna that belongs to Lamar County Electric Co-op and then we sent the new VHF antenna up. Beall drove his F150 and operated it as a winch, tensioning and slackening the pull rope while Holland maintained radio and visual contact with Hunt. All the personnel used handhelds on 146.550 for communication and Randy was able to use a monocle to keep an eye on things at the top of the tower which is 206′ tall.
At one point around 1300 the group was surprised to see Shirley Collins drive Kelly onto the site for a quick visit. Get well Kelly!
The wind came up at the day wore on and by noon the sustained winds were an estimated 20kts with gusts to 30kts plus. The wind really slowed things down. Testing determined that the hard-line from the fiberglass Co-op antenna that was first removed had issues and it was unsuitable for use at this time. The hard-line we had taken to the site had been unrolled, quite a chore, and it was determined to be approximately 375′ long. Some of us had hoped it would be sufficient for two runs up the tower, but figuring we needed about 230′ for each run to reach into the shack that meant we would need 460′, so we were about 75′ short to be able to do that. Some had already determined these numbers by measuring the rolled up hard-line, but some of us still hoped we had enough for two runs. So much for hope as that was not the case. So, the existing run has issues and the conclusion is that at least the top connection will need to be removed and the cable itself be inspected and any damaged portion be removed. At $75 per connection we have to be judicious about just removing and replacing them, but that will have to be done with the top connection for sure and probably the bottom one as well.
At 1600, with winds so strong communication with Hunt was becoming nearly impossible and only 3.5 hours of sunlight remaining the (disappointing) decision was made to suspend the project and get Hunt down off of the tower. It took right at two hours to secure the pull equipment, get Hunt down off of the tower and gather up all of the tools and materials at the site. Haneke, last out, locked the gate at 1805.
Hunt was unable to commit to when he can get back out there and will follow up with us. Penry and Haneke are going back to the site soon to do some additional testing and evaluation of the existing cable run and when Hunt does return the plan is to have additional testing equipment on site, a 50 watt dummy load at the top of the tower, new ends and a plan for how to T&E that cable to determine with finality if it is suitable for use. We will pull our roll of hard-line up to the top, and we are exploring options for suitable hard-line for a second run if the existing has been too damaged (i.e. lightning) for use. We cannot afford to buy replacement if what is there will work so we are going to explore options. We will also pull the new UHF antenna up and get it hooked up. For those that are unfamiliar, the hard-line is terminated with smaller jumpers, think LMR400, so some new terminations will also be secured and ready to go.
Everybody tried really hard in difficult wind and with hardware that could not be tested until we had Hunt on top of the tower. The next visit will hopefully go more smoothly with the lessons learned yesterday. With the plan we are now developing our odds are much improved for a successful completion of the installation on the next attempt. In the meantime the existing cabling and antennas were left in place so no changes to either the VHF or UHF repeaters. Finally, Beall and Teague both took lots of pictures. Please click here to load a Dropbox account where the pictures can be viewed if you wish.
73’s – Phillip
March 22, 2022 at 9:13 am #2160Phillip BeallParticipant
- This topic was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by Phillip Beall. Reason: Corrected call sign
I got an email from Club member Jerry Keisler commenting on one picture that I need to give credit where credit is due. In my folder I personally took all of the pictures except the last one. The last one, with the jet contrail in the background; Club member Dr. Randy Holland took that one. We were working together, me driving my Ford F150 and with Randy handling the radio and maintaining visual contact with the tower climber much of the time. He used his iPhone 13 to take that picture and when I saw how good it looked I asked him to AirDrop it to me and he did. I intended to tag the picture with credit to him and failed to do so so I wanted to follow up and make a post giving him credit.
73’s – Phillip
March 22, 2022 at 9:15 am #2162Jerry KeislerParticipant
- This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by Phillip Beall.
Nice contrail on that last shot. Thanks for all the work and all the hams that helped. – Jerry
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