Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Handiham World for 22 October 2008

Welcome to Handiham World!

Well, well. Here we are listening to the weather forecast and thinking (at least here in Minnesota, in the center of North America) that there is probably no way to fool ourselves into thinking that winter won't arrive as usual this year. It can, and it will.

I'm starting to think about what I call my "Alternate Plan B". Sure it's a little redundant, but what this is all about is having a second way to do things... Namely, to stay on the air all winter in case the weather takes out my antenna. I've already followed my own advice and gotten my antennas into shape for the winter, but you never know. I've set myself up with a wire antenna and a tuner that will pretty much cover all of the HF bands that I normally use. My alternate plan B is a multiband vertical. If the wire antenna comes down in an ice storm, the vertical will remain standing -- I hope. This is just one example of building redundancy into your amateur radio station. If you are on the air long enough, chances are that you have collected more than one HF transceiver and more than one power supply. I have, and to build redundancy into my station all I have to do is flip a couple of switches to bring the spare station online in case there is some failure in my main station. The addition of the handiham remote base at Courage North adds one more way that I could get on the air if I needed to, and we remain on schedule to bring this member resource to members in early 2009. Nonetheless, the remote base suffered a failure over the past weekend, and there is no alternate plan B for that station. I suppose that is all right, since the station is not meant to be anyone's "main" station, but I imagine some members will be in situations where they have no antennas because of restrictions. For them, a second choice would be a different remote base, and the W4MQ software provides for this option, though users have to be registered and approved for the other stations, just as they have to be approved for the handiham remote base.

The concept of Alternate plan B is well known at amateur radio special events and Field Day operation. Generally Murphy will pay a visit at the least opportune times, making it necessary to switch out equipment or quickly string up another temporary antenna system. In fact, I just spoke with Dave, W0OXB, who is planning a special event station at Minnesota's Split Rock Lighthouse. The event recalls the sinking of an iron ore freighter in Lake Superior, the Edmund Fitzgerald. Because the lighthouse is located in northern Minnesota on Lake Superior, you have to have a plan! There is a rumor that the weather in northern Minnesota at the end of October isn't always the best. Keep on reading for that special event news.

For your Handiham World, I'm...

Pat Tice