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Lightning, my friends.....

Well, storms yesterday did a number on some stuff. APRS DVLDEN is down to an iGate via a scanner because we lost a radio and FOB. Worse, NA0D-10 Winlink took some also and the radio is transmitting at low power with poor reception, and won't even transmit packet properly. We verified with another radio that the antenna is somewhat intact but at this point I have some decisions to make. Lightning arrestors, grounding was in place but things happen and apparently it needs improvements. The repeaters are OK so that's what I'm most concerned with.

I have a new radio for VARA-FM on the way and am going to buy a couple spares like I should have done before. I am also going to run a "temporary" antenna up to a point where it will have OK coverage but will match the radio properly and probably work better in general. I will then have VARA back 100% and will decide then if I put a second temp antenna up for APRS to digipeat or just leave it for now as a receive only iGate hooked up to the flooded VHF antenna. Read on....

At the tower top, there are 2 DB420's (UHF) and a DB224 (VHF), which we're using all three. The dB224 has water ingress into the coax, causing a high SWR. This may have helped with a radio transmitting only at low power, as in we've been frying the final PA. The WINLINK antenna is an out of band antenna that has been "close enough" but probably causes issues over the long term. This needs it's own thing also and needs to be addressed. WELL, it's time and here's what I think I'm going to do.

I want to replace the 7/8" Heliax to the db224. I have some drone video I took a couple months ago that show all three of these antennas are in decent shape, although there seems to be some random coax hanging on one of the 420's. That's causing some minor PIM (and I think it's the one on the 444.000 repeater) so that will need to be addressed. The big thing is to get a few guys or even a crew to help pull a new piece of 7/8" Heliax up this tower and replace the flooded one to the 224. This will give us a good, solid VHF antenna mounted in a perfect position. I will then move VARA and APRS onto that antenna and duplex it at the base. This is going to be a little of an investment so I'll have to do it in stages. Right now the nominal thing is to get VARA-FM back 100% and parts are now on the way for that. I love radio. I really do.

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