Ham Radio Station Contingency Planning

When the power went out, my UrbanBeam was useless as a multi band antenna

During our PG&E “emergency” (when they shut power off for a day and a half for windy dry conditions), two pieces of ham gear became useless – my Array Solutions Ratpack antenna switch and my UrbanBeam.

Since I will use solar charged batteries instead of a generator, I will need to conserve power usage. Sure, I could purchase 3 more batteries, and devote one to the switch and two to supply the 24 volts the SteppIR needs, but instead, I’d rather think about a better solution.

Turns out, turning my UrbanBeam into a wire beam will be the answer.

Luckily, I had the UrbanBeam set to 40M, so it was still 100% useful. I also have the Diamond 80/40 inverted vee. I simply bypassed the antenna switch with a barrel connector.

One thing that all of this does is gives me a good excuse to get the AB-577 up 65′ and add those last two sections. Ive been watching the antenna during breezes, and it seems like there is no problem.

Without the SteppIR motors, as a wire beam, the antenna would be about 20 pounds max, or basically “featherweight”.

I’m willing to take a chance of getting the antenna up higher because if and when the UrbanBeam craps out I’ll turn it into a 40 / 20M wire beam.

In other words, I am no longer worrying about equipment failure.

I guess the point here is to plan what to do when power goes out or where your gear fails. I tried to avoid purchasing a SteppIR, but try to design an antenna that works well on 40 – 6M – what SteppIR has done is a real feat for sure.

I certainly don’t have an “UrbanBeam Death Wish”, but I do expect there will be a day when one motor craps out. It could be 10 years, which is what I have heard is the life cycle of these motors, but in any case, if and when something goes awry, I can either replace the motor as a Plan B or turn it into a wire beam as a Plan C.

I like playing these mental games and thinking ahead of time. It frees me up from worry, and turns a potential bad situation into an opportunity to be creative before it even happens.

It’s a good game to play ….

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