The 2019 antenna/tower maintenance project

Hot dogs. Chips. Salsa. A truck load of cold water. And, as always: Murphy!

On Friday September 22 and Saturday September 23 – almost 5 years to the day after erecting our tower and antennas – Jason KS5TX and Erik K5WW finally got around to replacing all the lightning-damaged equipment in and on the tower!

We had one little helper: an amazing lift from Reno’s Rentals in Uvalde. It allowed Jason to reach over the Spiderbeam and get to the VHF repeater antenna:

Jason KS5TX getting ready to remove the faulty repeater antenna.

Good stuff, Reno’s!

And yes, the repeater antenna was in worse shape than we thought:

The top of the old repeater antenna. Blown to smithereens. Not exactly waterproof anymore either…

Radiating element blasted off its base. Which in itself almost exploded.

We may need a few new capacitors. And some other bits…

Foam standoff. Even this got charred.

Yup. What he said.

He’s dead, Jim.

After hooking the new rotator cable and new controller to the old rotator we were able to diagnose it as well. It turned; but we got no feedback for the azimuth indicator. Busted potentiometer, at the very least. Out with the old, in with the new (rotator):

Jason KS5TX replacing the defective Yaesu G-450A rotator. Hard on the knees!

With the new rotator installed it was time to (literally!) hoist up the new repeater antenna, a Diamond X700HNA. It is 24 feet tall, 6 feet taller than the one we had. Here it is on the left, with the old, broken antenna on the right for comparison.

Jason, adding another foot and a half.

With the new repeater antenna installed it was time for another well-deserved break:

Is it hot dog time yet???

We didn’t replace the coax for the beam; because it looked and tested fine. But the repeater antenna coax was replaced by LMR-600 coax. The lower loss and taller antenna should give us quite a few extra dBs!

Jason doing the final cable management.

No photos of Erik K5WW, you say? No, he decided to play official observer at ground level. And pick up a few nuts and washers that got blown out of Jason’s hands.

Two days of hard, long overdue work in hot and muggy weather. But we had fun; even though unlike 5 years ago we had no fun building. In-joke! 😉

Would you believe we didn’t take any pics of the finished product? Yeah, once the hot dogs started coming in we kinda forgot. But hey: go and have a look; we didn’t move the tower. Better yet: go and use it!

(all photos © of the guy who hates heights, K5WW)

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