Antenna Day, Part One

Saturday, May 6, brought a cool morning after a hot week, perfect for working on the roof of the Emergency Operations Center.

View of the EOC entrance and monopole. Crank-up tower that held the dual-band antenna can be seen laying on the ground. Crane for equipment transfer to the roof can be seen above the parapet. — photo courtesy WT4FEC

Amateur radio projects are often led and managed by amateurs, hobbyists with some technical expertise. Big Lake ARC has the advantage of WT4FEC being a professional service technician for a major communications utility, so the work was managed in a professional manner. OSHA requirements were met and kept, and safety was strongly covered during the briefing and workday.

L-R: K9GZT, KM4RAZ, Hendry EC WA4PAM, Field Day Coordinator KM4EWE, and Net Manager KI4LFF. — photo courtesy WT4FEC

Hendry Emergency Manager KJ4WIC was able to obtain scrap square signpost material earlier in the year that WT4FEC and son fabricated into sturdy stanchions to hold the amateur antenna array. Using commercial software both the bolt-holding and wind-loading were estimated to make sure the structures would withstand the antenna manufacturers maximum wind speed ratings – an important point when you design for hurricane survival.

Ground crew for the project were KM4RAZ and K9GZT; Hendry EC WA4PAM; Field Day Coordinator KM4EWE; Net Manager KI4LFF, and the patient bride of (and photographer) WT4FEC. Hendry E911 Technician KN4AFW was the “designated adult” for the day, the on-site employee from the EOC required by County rules.

Work started at 0800 with masonry impact-drills putting holes in the sold concrete parapet that is about one meter above the building roof. (The roof itself is a poured concrete slab over corrugated steel. It’s not going anywhere.) Sunny skies and cool breezes helped the day move to the scheduled 12N finish time, right on WT4FEC’s planned schedule.

Working around three sides of the parapet, WT4FEC and son; KM4WJV; and WD4RCC and daughter, installed six stanchions, along with a custom-fabricated H-frame for installation of the EOC weather remote sensor package. This will have the sensors sufficiently above ground to have the facility listed as an official data point for the National Weather Service.

KM4EWE, WA4PAM, and KI4LFF relocate the feedline for the HF dipole after removing the temporary VHF-UHF crank up tower. — photo courtesy WT4FEC

The stanchions will hold antennae for:

  • Fixed frequency, repeater based VHF-UHF comms
  • Variable frequency, simplex VHF-UHF comms
  • UHF DMR repeater
  • End-support for long-wire HF (other end, and 9:1 balun, attached to the EOC monopole)
  • End-support for 40-80M Alpha-Delta dipole

The morning was a safe success. WT4FEC and wife also generously fed the crew barbecue ribs and chicken afterward.

Step two of the build is scheduled for mid-June to finish installing the dual-band antennae, HF dipole, weather station remote sensors and conduct final cable clean up.

KM4WJV and WT4FEC and son Chris, look on as trainee Amelia handles comms during teardown. — photo courtesy WT4FEC