UPDATE 08/23/15: The balloon is dead as of 1800z today for those who made wagers…
Its a valid question since its not a wire vertical…
I came out this morning to find one of the top ropes on the 630-meter vertical to be broken. At the very top, of course. Normally this would necessitate pulling the antenna down, restringing all of the guys and putting it back, no trivial task given the surrounding landscape of trees and shrubs. It seems that some of the local birds picked the old rope apart for nesting material while perched on top providing me additional top loading over the past year. As they say, “There ain’t no free lunch!”
I’ve known this day was coming. A few months back I talked to a drone pilot who claimed he could get a new rope/slip knot at the top for the cool sum of $300. I should have given him the Obi Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness) response to Han Solo (Harrison Ford) when trying to book passage to Alderon in Star Wars, Episode IV – “I can give you 2 now plus 15 when we reach Alderon…” Anyway, since it is always a risky proposition when you have remote control craft flying around very small guy ropes that blend in to the scenery, I passed – my insurance risk was just too great and the guy had a $12000 drone- and instead turned to helium balloons… Well, that was the plan, anyway. I never got around to it, mainly because we have had very few days of calm winds that would allow a balloon to do its thing… Today I was forced into getting it done on a day when the winds were not calm.
After much work and much nashing of teeth, I have a workable, if temporary, solution. My hope is to keep the antenna stable through Fall and Winter and do a rebuild in the late Winter / early Spring of 2016 before the trees have their leaves… If you didn’t know, the antenna is surrounded by trees so taking it down is a huge chore and what you see here is what sticks above the canopy. If you have a helicopter and want to help raise and lower the antenna into place from above, I can get you 2 now plus 15 when the job is done 🙂
Oh, and the balloon is stuck but as long as it holds on the restraint it is hooked on, I don’t care. It could be worse – It could be a “My little Pony” balloon or “Care Bears” or smiley faces! Anyone have the over-under on helium diffusion and latex survivability in UV? Someone call Vegas! Its going to be a hot couple of days here… If its not popped by tomorrow, I will go shoot it down. It is increasing the wind load on the antenna but not terribly. If it becomes a problem, I will neutralize the problem.
So this event represents another installment of what has become known as “Chaos Friday” in my household. Many bizarre things have happened over the last few months on Friday’s and this is no exception. I was just happy to have time and resources to fix it. Stay tuned for the next episode… Its sure to be a doosy!