Skip to main content

Antenna Topics: Disconnecting equipment for safety. Post # 207

Like many regions of the northern hemisphere summer has come to Hawaii Island.  Although this tropic paradise is known for its gentle climate, there are occasions where severe thunderstorms and lightning plague Hawaiian hams just like our fellow amateur radio operators on the U.S. Mainland.  Every now and then, a small sea-spawned tornado (waterspout) comes ashore in Kailua-Kona and does some minor damage to beach areas.  Most of these unwanted guests arrive on the strong winds of a frontal passage which begins north of Kauai and runs down the island chain to Hawaii Island.  While most of these severe storms occur during the winter months, it's not unusual for a bad thunderstorm to strike in mid-summer and cause damage to utility poles, transformers, and other electrical equipment.

Now that I'm mostly retired, I tend to stay at home and can keep watch on the weather. With adequate warning, I can safely disconnect  my antennas and get my rigs out of danger before any storm strikes.
 With the passing of time, I've tended to get lazy about protecting my equipment, especially if my xyl and I decide to go on an impromptu shopping trip or to visit friends across the island.  I've been careless in the safety department--a pattern I've vowed to break ever since I read a helpful article by Claudia J. Lang (KC3GO) called "Quick power and antenna disconnects for equipment lightning safety."  The original article was published in the 13th Edition of "Hints & Kinks for the Radio Amateur."

Following Ms. Lang's example, I've instituted a storm safety program for my amateur radio equipment.  I follow this routine everyday, whether I'm away from the house all day or just visiting friends down the road.


1. When I finish operating for the day, I unplug all transceivers and computers from the power mains.  Most of my rigs run off solar-charged batteries, so I just disconnect all power leads from the deep cycle marine battery and put the solar panels in the garage.  I also disconnect my telephone line, since the line is also used for internet access.

2.  All antennas are disconnected and grounded at the mast for my verticals and inverted vees.  I also disconnect the feed line from my under the house 40 meter loop.  I also disconnect the RG-8X coaxial cable leading to the 4:1 balun on the garage wall.  I use home made swivels to lower the vertical and inverted vee antennas to ground level.

3.  I make sure all power cords have surge suppressors, so I don't get a surprise when I plug equipment back into the ac mains.

As good as these steps may be, "Hints & Kinks" Editor David Newkirk (WJ1Z) recommends some additional precautions to protect your equipment:

"Disconnecting antenna and ac-power leads may not fully protect gear connected to ground.  The best way to protect station electronic equipment against lightning damage is to disconnect all wires from the equipment and move the equipment away from station wires and cables."

Newkirk also suggests that you "keep a weather eye out and disconnect your gear well before severe weather moves into your area...better yet, keep it disconnected whenever you're not using it."

I apply these same rules to my audio and television equipment.  Whenever I leave the house, I disconnect all power and speaker leads from my component stereo system and make sure the television set is disconnected from the ac mains and the roof-mounted antenna.  Like my amateur radio equipment, my entertainment systems use surge protectors as added protection from power line "spikes."

Hopefully, these simple tips will save your equipment when lightning threatens your area.

REFERENCES:

Lang, Claudia J. (KC3GO).  "Quick Power and Antenna Disconnects for equipment lightning safety."  Contained in "Hinks & Kinks for the Radio Amateur", 13th Edition.  ARRL.  Newington, CT, 06111.  p. 9-7.

Editorial comments from David Newkirk (WJ1Z).  Contained in "Hinks & Kinks for the Radio Amateur", 13th Edition. ARRL. Newington, CT, 06111. p. 9-7.

You can follow our blog community with a free email subscription or by tapping into the blog RSS feed.

For the latest Amateur Radio News, visit my news site--http://kh6jrm.com.  I've included a few headline stories at the bottom of this post.

Thanks for joining me today!

Aloha es 73 de Russ (KH6JRM).

BK29jz15--along the beautiful Hamakua Coast of Hawaii Island.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

G5RV Multi Band HF Dipole Antenna. Post #1555.

If you can't see the video, please insert this title URL into your browser search box: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeNHIQ_j4Dk This well-produced and richly illustrated tutorial on the classic G5RV HF Dipole Antenna was presented to the Brandon Amateur Radio Society in Brandon, Florida in 2017 by Bernie Huth (W4BGH).  Bernie does an excellent job of  explaining the pros and cons of this popular HF antenna from the late Louis Varney (G5RV).  Although Varney envisioned his design primarily as a 3/2 wavelength antenna for the 20 meter Amateur Radio band, radio amateurs have used the antenna for multiband use.  The G5RV is an excellent choice for the 20 meter band.  Performance on other HF Amateur Radio bands is good enough to qualify as stand alone HF antenna if you can only erect one HF antenna. For the latest Amateur/Ham Radio news and information, please visit these websites: http://www.HawaiiARRL.info. http://www.arrl.org. http://www.arrl.org/arrl-audio-news (a wee

Amateur Radio Bicycle Mobile Setup. Post #1554.

If you can't see the video, please insert this title URL into your browser search box: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zWb-KnkGdY. Here's a way to use Amatuer/Ham Radio while you work on shedding a few pounds in useful exercise.  Why not equip your bicycle for 2 meter/70 cm mobile operation? In this short, well-made video, "taverned" shows us how he used a mag mount antenna, a simple C clamp, and a basic ground system to convert his mountain bike into a mobile station.  The project is straight forward, simple, and gives you emergency communications while you peddle down the road. For the latest Amateur/Ham Radio news and information, please visit these websites: http://www.HawaiiARRL.info. http://www.arrl.org. http://www.arrl.org/arrl-audio-news (a weekly podcast which is updated each Friday afternoon). https://hamradiohawaii.wordpress.com. https://bigislandarrlnews.com. https://amateurradionewsinformation.com (Amateur Radio News & Information).

An 80-Meter Vertical Helix

Like many amateur radio operators, I live on a small lot surrounded by neighbors, utility lines, and civic-minded citizens concerned about the "attractiveness" of my community.  Whether by design or outright fear, I've adopted the "stealth" approach to ham radio antennas.  It's the old "out of sight, out of mind" idea applied to amateur radio antennas. The amateur radio press is full of articles describing the struggle of amateur radio operators to pursue their hobby under the burdensome regulations of CC & Rs, HOAs, and other civic minded citizens who object to antenna farms.  So far, my modest verticals, loops, and inverted vees have blended well with the vegetation and trees bordering my small backyard.  Vertical antennas have always been a problem because of the limited space for a radial system.  There are times, however, where a shortened vertical for the lower HF bands (such as 80/75 meters) is necessary where horizontal space is lack