11/04/2016
Remote Repeater vs HELL Winter.. A Close Call! +PHOTOS
Description
Even with ubiquities fantastic equptiment, running a wisp is like running on a never ending treadmill; keeping on top of back-haul upgrades, hardware failures and a million other things is enough to keep any crew on its edges.
 
Practically all summer long i waited... longed?? for a fee minute to do some much needed upgrades to one of our remote repeaters but since the job wasn't absolutely critical at that moment it continued to get postponed until just a few weeks ago when i knew it couldn't wait any longer.
 
The site is located on top of an EVIL 6,600' mountain in Northern Canada and has been extremely challenging to operate; AT LEAST once EVERY summer a disastrous lightning storm engulfs the mountain followed by a trail of blue smoke from fried equipment and leaving electrical panels looking more like a boxes of legos from all the exploded electrical componets. Then to top it off every winter like clockwork a horrendous wind storm destroys our wind turbine which has been replaced so many times it feels like a ritual.
 
Anyawy, 
Back to the story, I finally got a few free less crtiical moments and made the trip, the objective was to prepare the site for winter by adding an additional 1KW of solar panels which would hopefully make the wind turbine obsolete.. and coat a Rocket AC 5GHZ Radome Antenna with some black silicone based paint which (hopefully) would cut down on ice buildup which was atenuating the signal and in several cases, damaging the dish.
 
We started for the site at 5:30 on ATV's and made it there by late morning.. The rest of a day was your typical MUST OR BUST work bee with hardily time to get a drink of water.  About half way through the day it started to DUMP SNOW and when we finally got home at around midnight we noticed on the graphs that one of the battery banks was NOT charging. With snow literally exploding from the sky everywhere we started back for the site and just barely made it in with about a foot of snow everywhere!  
 
remote-battery-voltage-monitoring.pngGood Monitoring = Good Nights Sleep Man Happy
 
Graph of battery voltages for several remote sites.
 
Moral of the story.. DON'T PROCRASTINATE.. I was incredibly lucky this time but had I been a day later it would have meant a winter of regular visits to the site to replace the turbine or run generators... Just not worth it guys!
 
Hope you could relate to my story or whatever you want to call it! I'm certainly not dumping on any aspect of running a WISP, heck it's HARD WORK but I wouldn't EVER trade it for anything!!  It's never boring and always ridicliously exciting!
 
Gotta love operating a wisp!!
 
 
Enjoy the pics below (Not all from this trip, but all from this site..) 
 
And i have to say, big thankyou to Ubiquity for making their devices so easy to use, Literally you'd never get a tire kicking guy like me out doing this stuff if I couldn't figure out the teck side of it..
 
 
 
 

IMG_0164.JPGAt some point maybe they'll be a graveyard for turbine remains but for now the bones lie barren and exposedIMG_0123.JPGFreezing my hands off trying to get a new turbine mountedIMG_0122.JPGThe satisfaction of getting the turbine replaced has diminished over the years. I used to be excited to put up a new model which i believed would survive the storm.. That's long gone now.. I've tried every model I can get my hands on, trimmed blades,coated blades, everything!IMG_0113.JPGThis turbine produces HEAPS of power when not brokenIMG_0064.JPGWhen you can't afford a helicopter lift we take this thing as far as it goes and then snowshoeIMG_0029.JPGIn the winter trees look more like ice castlesIMG_0005.JPGGearing up for an emergency service runIMG_0102.JPGJust a typical beautifully FROZEN tripIMG_0120.JPGWe threw dirt on the white snow so the chopper could see the ground..It was the only wayIMG_0350 (1).JPGIn the summer a dirtbike can take you most of the wayIMG_0352.JPGJust a beautiful shotIMG_0505.JPGBeautiful lakes in the mountain rangeIMG_0526.JPGWinter is bad enough but trying to protect 15+ repeaters from firestorms is even worse!IMG_0180.JPGBolting the ubiquiti antenna directly to the quad helped allot!IMG_0370.JPGThe brotherhood!IMG_0476.JPGDual Battery Banks with individual Solar Chargers and Current SensorsIMG_0474.JPGAC Chargers (LEFT) are for when we have to start a generator (If it will start Man Tongue)IMG_0396.JPGWe installed the panels into a group before pulling them up into placeIMG_0404.JPGPhew!! They stayed! The wood was pretty rough, I hope they last the winter. (Top Right) Rocket AC radome dish is coated with a silicone based paint that is supposed to reduce ice buildupIMG_0420.JPGWe use fiberoptic to link up several access points on different sides of the mountain. Running an OTDR to calculate loss..IMG_0421.JPGAfter all the lights are off the blue glow looks like something from a scifi movieIMG_0466.JPGThe weather quickly turned nasty and snow started to fall..IMG_0468.JPGBy the time we left we had over a foot of snow(This is midway through the day)IMG_0815.JPGJobs like this never seem to equal nice food but these breads toasted over a fire felt amazing when everything else was frozen solidIMG_0497.JPGThe box, a mess but workable and labeled! The Flexs Q4 (bottom right) is used to monitor and control the site and is one of the rare pieces of hardware to have survived the last lightning stormIMG_0477.JPGA rectifier is used to combine each battery bank, Here the load is routed through a FlexSCADA Current sensor to several breakersIMG_0410.JPGWith the additional killowatt of panels we won't be fixing the turbine again. I feel slightly nostalgic about it allds18b20-internet-temperature-monitoring.pngTemperature Graphssolar-current-monitoring-graphs.pngSolar Charge Current Graphs

These graphs are recorded on the Flexs Q4 device that we use for remote site monitoring

Remote Repeater vs HELL Winter.. A Close Call! +PHOTOS

by on ‎11-04-2016 01:50 PM
Even with ubiquities fantastic equptiment, running a wisp is like running on a never ending treadmill; keeping on top of back-haul upgrades, hardware failures and a million other things is enough to keep any crew on its edges.
 
Practically all summer long i waited... longed?? for a fee minute to do some much needed upgrades to one of our remote repeaters but since the job wasn't absolutely critical at that moment it continued to get postponed until just a few weeks ago when i knew it couldn't wait any longer.
 
The site is located on top of an EVIL 6,600' mountain in Northern Canada and has been extremely challenging to operate; AT LEAST once EVERY summer a disastrous lightning storm engulfs the mountain followed by a trail of blue smoke from fried equipment and leaving electrical panels looking more like a boxes of legos from all the exploded electrical componets. Then to top it off every winter like clockwork a horrendous wind storm destroys our wind turbine which has been replaced so many times it feels like a ritual.
 
Anyawy, 
Back to the story, I finally got a few free less crtiical moments and made the trip, the objective was to prepare the site for winter by adding an additional 1KW of solar panels which would hopefully make the wind turbine obsolete.. and coat a Rocket AC 5GHZ Radome Antenna with some black silicone based paint which (hopefully) would cut down on ice buildup which was atenuating the signal and in several cases, damaging the dish.
 
We started for the site at 5:30 on ATV's and made it there by late morning.. The rest of a day was your typical MUST OR BUST work bee with hardily time to get a drink of water.  About half way through the day it started to DUMP SNOW and when we finally got home at around midnight we noticed on the graphs that one of the battery banks was NOT charging. With snow literally exploding from the sky everywhere we started back for the site and just barely made it in with about a foot of snow everywhere!  
 
remote-battery-voltage-monitoring.pngGood Monitoring = Good Nights Sleep Man Happy
 
Graph of battery voltages for several remote sites.
 
Moral of the story.. DON'T PROCRASTINATE.. I was incredibly lucky this time but had I been a day later it would have meant a winter of regular visits to the site to replace the turbine or run generators... Just not worth it guys!
 
Hope you could relate to my story or whatever you want to call it! I'm certainly not dumping on any aspect of running a WISP, heck it's HARD WORK but I wouldn't EVER trade it for anything!!  It's never boring and always ridicliously exciting!
 
Gotta love operating a wisp!!
 
 
Enjoy the pics below (Not all from this trip, but all from this site..) 
 
And i have to say, big thankyou to Ubiquity for making their devices so easy to use, Literally you'd never get a tire kicking guy like me out doing this stuff if I couldn't figure out the teck side of it..
 
 
 
 

IMG_0164.JPGAt some point maybe they'll be a graveyard for turbine remains but for now the bones lie barren and exposedIMG_0123.JPGFreezing my hands off trying to get a new turbine mountedIMG_0122.JPGThe satisfaction of getting the turbine replaced has diminished over the years. I used to be excited to put up a new model which i believed would survive the storm.. That's long gone now.. I've tried every model I can get my hands on, trimmed blades,coated blades, everything!IMG_0113.JPGThis turbine produces HEAPS of power when not brokenIMG_0064.JPGWhen you can't afford a helicopter lift we take this thing as far as it goes and then snowshoeIMG_0029.JPGIn the winter trees look more like ice castlesIMG_0005.JPGGearing up for an emergency service runIMG_0102.JPGJust a typical beautifully FROZEN tripIMG_0120.JPGWe threw dirt on the white snow so the chopper could see the ground..It was the only wayIMG_0350 (1).JPGIn the summer a dirtbike can take you most of the wayIMG_0352.JPGJust a beautiful shotIMG_0505.JPGBeautiful lakes in the mountain rangeIMG_0526.JPGWinter is bad enough but trying to protect 15+ repeaters from firestorms is even worse!IMG_0180.JPGBolting the ubiquiti antenna directly to the quad helped allot!IMG_0370.JPGThe brotherhood!IMG_0476.JPGDual Battery Banks with individual Solar Chargers and Current SensorsIMG_0474.JPGAC Chargers (LEFT) are for when we have to start a generator (If it will start Man Tongue)IMG_0396.JPGWe installed the panels into a group before pulling them up into placeIMG_0404.JPGPhew!! They stayed! The wood was pretty rough, I hope they last the winter. (Top Right) Rocket AC radome dish is coated with a silicone based paint that is supposed to reduce ice buildupIMG_0420.JPGWe use fiberoptic to link up several access points on different sides of the mountain. Running an OTDR to calculate loss..IMG_0421.JPGAfter all the lights are off the blue glow looks like something from a scifi movieIMG_0466.JPGThe weather quickly turned nasty and snow started to fall..IMG_0468.JPGBy the time we left we had over a foot of snow(This is midway through the day)IMG_0815.JPGJobs like this never seem to equal nice food but these breads toasted over a fire felt amazing when everything else was frozen solidIMG_0497.JPGThe box, a mess but workable and labeled! The Flexs Q4 (bottom right) is used to monitor and control the site and is one of the rare pieces of hardware to have survived the last lightning stormIMG_0477.JPGA rectifier is used to combine each battery bank, Here the load is routed through a FlexSCADA Current sensor to several breakersIMG_0410.JPGWith the additional killowatt of panels we won't be fixing the turbine again. I feel slightly nostalgic about it allds18b20-internet-temperature-monitoring.pngTemperature Graphssolar-current-monitoring-graphs.pngSolar Charge Current Graphs

These graphs are recorded on the Flexs Q4 device that we use for remote site monitoring

Comments
by
on ‎11-04-2016 02:20 PM

Tough working conditions for sure!

 

Have you considered adding a ground grid of some sort?  Sometimes that can be the only method of creating a useful ground on a very rocky mountaintop.

by
on ‎11-04-2016 03:11 PM
We had a big massive copper grid before it got stollen but honestly I think we had worse problems with it because it seemed to attract the lightning more.. or maybe we didn't have things grounded inside enough... the last two years we grounded the building but for the equipment inside we used its own isolated ground and it seems that damage has been minimized although not stopped.. also hoping that since the wind turbine had been removed that we won't have a direct route into our D.C. System
Have you done anything with chemical grounds? We're thinking of trying that route too
by
on ‎11-04-2016 03:20 PM

You have some amazing views! At least it doesn't look (RF) busy there. Sucks to hear about the ground grid being stolen. 

by
on ‎11-04-2016 03:23 PM

Copper thieves -- ugh.  Bastards have cost me over $15k during the past 15 years.  PoCo here has moved to copper clad, which is pretty good value for money but the increased diameter (for equivalent surge ampacity) makes connections more expensive and difficult.  The mesh mats need literally everything metallic bonded to them in order to work, and sometimes have to drape over the edges of the mountain to get enough contact.  I'd probably experiment with aluminum as long as there's no acidic soil around.  We've also run copper strap in shallow trenches, which worked quite well on a problem tower at one site (six 80' radials, two leaving each tower leg.)

 

Chem grounds work well, but require regular maintenance.  If you're going to drill a hole anyway, filling it with bentonite is cheap and easy.  The pH will prevent a pure copper electrode from degrading.  Either one needs to be kept moist (which may not be a problem up there.)

by Ubiquiti Employee
on ‎11-04-2016 03:59 PM

Some great photos!  What province if you don't mind me asking?

by
on ‎11-05-2016 01:34 AM

WOW it is like a whole movie. Cool ))))

by
on ‎11-05-2016 03:07 AM

Dedication to the cause - you Sir, deserve an award! Congratulations!

 

It's about time UBNT came up with a way to run power over fibre, as I guess that is the link between a tower hit and the equipment in the cabinet getting fried?

by
on ‎11-05-2016 07:24 AM

Years ago I did a 400 foot tower transmitter site on top of a solid rock (mostly shale) butte in New Mexico where I grounded it with a chemical well.   Had a hole drilled 40 feet deep and put a 2 inch heavy copper pipe (silver soldered 20 foot sections together) down it, backfilled with sand/stone dust mixed with copper sulphate and poured several hundred gallons of water down the pipe.   Also connected the drain spouts from the 10x20 foot building to drain into it.   Never had any  lightning damage and that was built back in 1989, and the summer storms are pretty fierce there - second worst for lightning in the US after Florida...

Jim

by
on ‎11-05-2016 10:27 AM

Nice photos!

by
on ‎11-05-2016 11:05 AM

@vim In the 4-ish years that I've browsed these forums, this is by far the coolest story I've seen. CoolgleamA