Snaefell Antenna Status
Winters come and winters go. The trouble is that we don't seem to be able to find a gap between them these days; they almost roll into one and, before you know it, it's another year gone. On Snaefell, wind and ice are the mortal enemies of antenna systems. It is not uncommon for wind speeds at the summit to exceed 100mph. That sort of wind against an antenna that is loaded with ice means almost certain death.
It was one of those vicious winters - several years ago - that began the demise of GB3GD and GB3IM's antenna system. The two repeaters have shared a common antenna for many years and so the loss of one antenna leads to the loss of both repeaters.
Unfortunately we have been unable to secure a replacement for various reasons, mostly weather related, and that has led to a protracted period of poor coverage from Snaefell.
What didn't help the survival of our aerial system was the fact that we have a legacy of using poor quality hardware. The Watson X30 may do nicely on a chimney stack in suburbia but Snaefell is an entirely different beast. Unfortunately, the X30s were the previous repeater Keeper's choice and there has been little that we could do about it until now.
The last of the X30s has - quite literally - gone west. It's probably lying in a field in Northern Ireland given the kind of winds that we regularly experience. In a way, that's a blessing because it has made us look a lot harder at alternatives. "Industrial Strength" dual-band aerials that work on amateur frequencies are very hard to source, however.......
One of our group found this gem on the Procom website.
There's an old adage (which I will probably misquote here) which goes: "If you won't like the answer, don't ask the question".
Well, I asked the question - THE question - "How much?". Well, I didn't reckon on it being cheap, but £352 did call for at least a short, sharp intake of breath!
The truth is, though, that aerial riggers also cost money and so the fewer climbs that we need them to make, the more we save. So, installing an antenna that's as near bulletproof as you can get - even if it is a tad pricey - is surely a good investment.
On the downside, this antenna is a simple end-fed dipole on both bands, so we will lose the benefit of the gain that the X30 gave us. This is, however, a small disadvantage and we probably won't notice the difference.
We received our new antenna on 7th March 2012, and we have been promised that the restoration of our service is at the top of the rigger's "to do" list. That is if the weather ever stops blowing!!
It's a solid piece of kit. See for yourself.....
Watch this space.