[W5SFA] Austin County Update

Roger Klein rwklein at proton.me
Thu Apr 20 19:08:27 CDT 2023

Club Members,

I have some information to share regarding the club’s efforts with the Austin County Wendt Street ham station and the Wallis location.

At the club meeting on March 29, the history and future of the county ham station that we are relocating to Wendt Street was extensively discussed. As you probably know, a Steppir beam antenna and related equipment were purchased with grant money by the county back in 2018. Several surplus tower sections were to be used to mount the beam.

This topic was discussed with two of the Austin County Commissioners last November, and was subsequently discussed in Commissioner’s Court. The main concern expressed was the cost of installing the tower, Steppir antenna and related equipment. I contacted Trico Tower and the rough estimate they gave me was around $30,000. As well, a non-trivial effort would be required to secure the necessary regulatory approvals for the tower. I passed this information on to Roy Mercer, the Austin County Emergency Coordinator, and we agreed that any further action regarding the tower does not make sense at this time. Since the county only needs relatively short range HF communications (e.g. to Houston and Austin), a wire antenna could fill this need .

As a result, the club will work with Austin County to complete a functioning ham radio station at the Wendt Street office. The club will install an end-fed half wave wire antenna with the matchbox mounted on a free-standing 16 foot fiberglass mast mounted in the ground. It will function primarily as a near-vertical incidence skywave antenna for 40/80m, but will provide coverage on other bands as well. The 130' wire will run from the mast out to the pine trees in back of the Wendt Street building. A VHF/UHF antenna will also be mounted on the fiberglass mast for repeater communications.

At the conclusion of the March club meeting discussion, a motion was made and passed supporting the above plans for the Wendt Street ham station.

A 5-section fiberglass mast was installed by Roger, Ray Meech and Gary Baldwin at Wendt Street last week. Dan White has donated a multiband MFJ end fed antenna. The county will provide a suitable hole and housing for feedlines to be passed into the radio room.

Regarding the new Wallis location, the new 300-foot tower has been erected. From discussions with Roy Mercer, we will have a VHF/UHF antenna installed on the new tower, likely at the 250 foot level. Feedline and a shack will be provided for our existing repeater equipment, though this will need to be budgeted for by the county, so timing is indeterminate.


Roger N5RWK
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