This Blog focuses on a few of my favorite activities. Most notably Cycling, Amateur Radio and Target Shooting. I believe that we learn best by doing. Since I am always engaged in one project or another, the blog is the journal where I keep track of my accomplishments and ideas.
For a hundred years radio amateurs have been hoisting antennas up into the air. Sooner or later Mother Nature knocks them back down. Or at least she reminds us who's boss.
My Gap Titan DX multi-band vertical dipole stood straight and tall until this past December when my area experienced severe blizzard like conditions. One of many winter storms that passed through this one brought high winds in excess of 50 mph. That afternoon and evening as I watched out the back door the antenna oscillated wildly with the top section swinging back and forth six feet or more. The three guy lines appeared to be keeping the Gap from folding over in the strong gusts.
The next morning conditions were calm and as I peeked out the window I was dismayed to see the bend about one third up the length of the antenna. The Bottom section of the Gap Titan is made up of three layers of aluminum tubing each telescoping into the next. It is very sturdy. The bend occured just above the triple walled section. I attribute the failure to an inadequate guying system. I used the Gap guying bracket which is a very sturdy assembly made from aluminum angle and stout 1/4" stainless steel eye bolts.
I attached the guy bracket to the spot recommended by Gap. Because of the space limitations of my lot I did not have many options for anchor points for the guy lines. The north-east and south-east lines I attached to the corners of the garage roof where I could screw into the wood rafters. The last guy I stretched out directly west into the back yard and attached to a steel stake. This guy was much longer than the other two attached to the roof and ended up being the weak link. I believe this layout did not provide the support required to keep the side to side swinging of the antenna in check during the strong wind.
In the future I hope to have more space to deploy the Titan and the Eagle and when I do I will certainly use a symmetrical 4 line guy system with the lines spaced 90 degrees apart and of equal length.
During Memorial Day weekend after some hedge trimming chores my ground man Wyatt and I lowered and disassembled the Titan for storage. Another lesson learned is to use conductive grease on all the metal to metal fittings. Even after being in the air for only about six months the aluminum tubing sections were very hard to pull apart. Interestingly the Gap Titan continued to work great even with the bend. In January, a month after the storm, I set my record distance radio contact to Orel, Russia about 5,009 miles away.
I'm sure this won't be my last run in with the powerful effects of nature. One of many challenges to getting and staying on the air as a radio amateur.