Lightning strike

Article and photo link by Mike Walker, VA3MW. Thanks Mike and keep sending us more info.

Last Saturday (May 1st, ), the Toronto FM Communications Society technical committee had the opportunity to take a crane to the top of the ski resort where the repeaters are located (south of Uxbridge Ontario).

The goal was to fix the broken 442.100 (HUB) antenna.  This antenna sits 8 meters above the top of the tower.  It is mounted on top of the 8 bay Sinclabs 224.860 VE3BEG repeater.  For the past year we have discussed how we could easily repair the 440 antenna.  We suspected that it was a bad jumper cable into the 440 vertical.  The HUB has been operating on a much lower mounted UHF antenna which resulted in much less overall range.

With the weather being so dry as of late, we got permission from the ski hill owner to bring the crane to the top since the ground was so hard.  With the use of a man (maybe that should be .. person?) bucket, we hoisted Neil VE3SST to well above the top of the tower.  In short order, he was able to remove the 440 antenna and lower it to the ground for testing.  We quickly determined that it was not a jumper problem, but that the antenna was truly ’busted’.

As Neil installed the spare (doesn’t everyone have a spare 440 vertical?), I took to cutting into the dead antenna housing.  What I quickly found out was that that rod that starts to make up the antenna in had vaporized and the bottom 6″ was totally missing.

What was also missing was the coil that made up the DC ground.  It too had vaporized.    In one of the attached pictures, I have a flashlight shining down the base to the point where the actually antenna rod should have been physically attached.   More pictures can be found at http://www.walkerphotography.ca/Hobbies/TFMCS including the high definition picture of the entire towers that is a blend of 12 static pictures.

That was one amazing lightning hit.  The antenna did die a hero and none of the equipment in the shack was damaged by that hit.

The crane  rental was expensive, however it did allow us to very easily and very safely do the work required on the top of the tower  in a difficult place.  The use of a Gin pole was not practical as we would not be able to get the sling in place above the balance  point of the antenna stack.  There was also risk of more damage to other antennas while lowering or raising the
antennas.

With the new antenna in place, the coverage for the 442.100Mhz HUB has been increased greatly.  As this is a HUB repeater, there is no ‘tail’ on the repeater should you happen to make a call on it.  That doesn’t mean that it isn’t there, it is just being stealthy.

The Toronto FM Communications Society <http://www.tfmcs.com>  has repeaters on 10M, 6M, 2M, 220, 440, 1.2G and D-Star (UHF and VHF).  As well, we are fortunate enough to have 2 repeaters located in the CN Tower on 145.41 – and 444.400 +.  We also provide linking via RF to points north of the repeater site, via IRLP and D-Star.

1 Response to “Lightning strike”


  • Joseph Verdirame

    Hi Peter,

    As a TFMCS member, I would like to thank you for posting Mike’s article. Moreover, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of TFMCS. Without mentioning names specifically (because I might omit someone), it needs to be said that a mere handful of extremely dedicated people are performing gargantuan feats to keep alive the “first and foremost” FM repeater system in Canada. By gargantuan feats, I mean major sacrifices of family and personal time, as wel as some personal expense, to maintain and improve the repeater system.

    I would like to encourage Radio Amateurs in the GTA or anywhere in Central Ontario to consider joining TFMCS. $25.00 per year is a very small price to pay to help sustain a repeater system that offers IRLP, D-Star, and even access to 6m and 10m! Last but not least, there is my personal favourite, a 220 MHz repeater with an AWESOME coverage area. Try it, you’ll like it!

    In the past few years, membership support has dwindled dramatically. This has not stopped the heroic TFMCS executive from marching onward to keep the dream alive. Please help if you are able.

    73 and see you on one of the TFMCS repeaters (preferably 224.860 MHz). :)

    Joe, VE3LNU

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