Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Simple Antennas for Amateur Radio Operators--a continuing series

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog
Post 166

EMERGENCY ANTENNAS

Hurricane season has arrived in the Hawaiian Islands and local civil defense officials are encouraging local residents to prepare for some rough seasonal storms.  In the Central Pacific, hurricane season runs from June to November.  Presently, there are two storms which will impact Hawaii Island--Daniel, now a very wet tropical depression, and Hurricane Emelia, located about 2,000 miles east of Hawaii Island.  Although the storms are predicted to weaken as they pass below Hawaii Island, they will bring heavier than normal rain, gusty winds, and storm surf ranging up to 10 feet in some lowland areas.  This is a challenging time for surfers, who have been warned to stay clear of rough spots, and for local residents, who could lose power and suffer building damage.

With the exception of Hurricane Iniki in 1992 and Hurricane Ewa in 1982, Hawaii has been spared the full force of seasonal hurricanes thanks to the storms entering cooler waters and losing steam through sheer winds.  However, one can't be too careful, especially where tropical storms are concerned.

Local amateur radio operators, the American Red Cross, and local civil defense officials run various drills throughout the year to prepare for such eventualities.  The greatest dangers on Hawaii Island are strong, gusty winds and heavy rains which can collapse utility poles, trees, and other vegetation.  Besides the loss of power, there is the danger of closed roads due to mudslides and the loss of interisland transportation.  These problems are especially acute in rural areas such as Laupahoehoe, which has only one highway leading to the county seat at Hilo.  So, most of us living in the rural countryside prepare for the day when county, state, and federal help may be delayed.

In my own case, the xyl has stored food and water for several weeks in case we are totally cut off by natural events, including earthquakes.  All amateur radio equipment can be shifted to battery power via solar cells.  I also have backup antennas, spare rigs, coax, ladder line, and various connectors in case they are needed.

Many amateurs living on Hawaii Island also have "go" kits in their vehicles, ready for emergency service should the need arise.  My mobile go kit is simple.  There is a Yaesu FT-7, 10 watt, SSB/CW rig, a B & W apartment antenna (similar to the MFJ-1622), 50 feet of RG-6 coax, 100 feet of 450-ohm ladder line, a small MFJ antenna tuner, a deep cycle marine battery, some solar cells to charge the battery, and various connectors, tape, and a butane soldering iron.  My van also contains a 3-day supply of food, water, and medical supplies.  I make an effort to keep the gasoline tank full at all times.  If electricity is lost because of a storm, there will be no way to pump gasoline from the nearest service station.  At home, the xyl and I have a good stock of food and water, along with a two-burner propane stove.

Every so often, I take off on a mini "expedition" to test how good my emergency station works.  Most of the time, everything works as planned.  But one never knows what will happen given the nature of tropical storms.  According to the National Weather Service, the remains of these decaying storms should hit by Thursday night or Friday morning.  Hopefully, the winds and rain will pass quickly without damage.  There is one "silver lining" to the upcoming storm passage--those depending on water catchment systems should see their tanks full by the time the storms pass well south of us.

'Till next time,

Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM--BK29jx15