On Sunday Morning 29th April 2012 our main tower suffered massive damage in the high winds.
At 5.22 am the lower part of the latice tower folded which caused the whole tower to fall into a nearby tree.
Amazingly not a single antenna or feeder was damaged and even the wind turbine and blades are in perfect working order.
In order to keep all of our repeaters on the air we have moved GB3WE’s folded dipole onto our small wind turbine mast. This mast holds the GB3WB 4-Stack already, so its coverage is unaffected.
To keep GB7WB on air we have had to temporarily fit a colinear to the very short remains of the damaged tower, so it is practically at ground level. Obviously coverage will be well reduced, but at least GB7WB is still on the air.
It was a very big and dangerous job to get the whole tower and turbine out of the tree. But to make the area as safe as possible as quickly as possible we have worked on the site more or less night and day for three days in some terrible weather conditions.
Here are a selection of photos of the damaged tower.
The GB3WE VHF repeater suffers tremendously from ‘metal-on-metal’ interference as all repeaters do. This interference is noticeable on any weak signals accessing the repeater and sounds like a constant crackle and almost as if a microphone has been placed next to two pieces of metal while they are being rubbed together!
This is caused by the repeaters transmitter constantly transmitting its energy into all nearby metal objects and the receiver being able to detect the making and breaking of any conductors which are allowed to freely move across each other.
Every conductive object must be either securely fixed to any adjacent conductive object or insulated completely from the other objects, the important thing is that they must never rub together.
Our guy wires were our biggest problem, so we had to devise a way to insulate them from the tower and each other to remove the interference that we were suffering from.
It didn’t help that we have a three section wind-up tower with a very heavy wind turbine mounted on the top, which caused the tower and guy wires to move continuously in the wind!
Cutting the Gordian knot! ….. The photos show how we overcame the problem.
Here is a short video to show you how bad the interference is when a weak signal is accessing GB3WE and metal objects are allowed to rub on the guy wires
In the tremendous winds of the morning of 05/01/2011 at 1am the tail was broken off of the GB3WB wind turbine. This had the disastrous effect of stopping the turbine from auto-furling.
This left the blades facing the wind, which caused them to spin at thousands of RPM until they were all broken off. This is a disaster for our repeaters.
It is worth noting that our modified oil-filled heater 24v dumpload worked perfectly day after day and saved our expensive battery sets from over voltage charging and burning out.
Other repeaters running from wind turbine power not so far away lost their dumpload, which in turn destroyed their battery sets. They also lost their mast and antenna. It was a real nightmare for us all!
We have currently turned off the repeaters to conserve the power in the batteries.
A new tail and set of blades will have to be bought and fitted asap so that the repeaters can be activated again.
Click on the play button below to watch a video of what is left of our turbine.