May 2018
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Wind damage

This satellite dish nearly broke off of its mount during a “macroburst” event.  According to the National Weather Service:

A macroburst is a thunderstorm downdraft affecting an area at least 2.5 miles wide with peak winds lasting 5 to 20 minutes. The macroburst is a straight-line wind phenomena not associated with rotation…used to differentiate from tornadic
winds. Macrobursts can produce as much if not more damage as tornadoes due to the size and scope of a macroburst.

On May 15th a large group of severe thunderstorms triggered at least three tornadoes and one macroburst event in eastern New York and Western Connecticut.  Winds in the macroburst area were estimated to be in the 85 to 105 MPH range.

The next morning, it took a long time to get the the clients studio.  Trees where down everywhere, roads were closed, traffic lights not working, etc.  This created numerous detours and traffic jams.  When I finally arrived at a clients studio facility, this was the first thing I noticed:

Comtech 3.8 meter dish with broken mount

Comtech 3.8 meter dish with broken mount

That is an older 3.8 meter comtech dish hanging on by one 3/8 inch stainless steel U bolt.  The funny thing is, they did not complain about this or the lack of satellite service.  The main complaint was that the studios were on generator and some of the lights and air conditioners were not working.

Comtech 3/8 inch stainless U bolt holding up 650 pound dish

Comtech 3/8 inch stainless U bolt sheared off

Comtech 3.8 meter dish support bracket twisted

Comtech 3.8 meter dish support bracket twisted

This dish had originally been put up when AMC-8 was the main commercial radio network bird in the US.  The dish elevation was only 9 degrees above the horizon, so this had to be put up next to the building at roof top level to clear the trees and see 139W.

I was attempting to secure the dish but in the end, the 650 pound dish was too tenuous and the weather was still unstable.  There was other damage to the dish thus we decided to take it down instead.  Even that took a bit of doing.  We were trying find a crane or bucket truck, but all that type of equipment had been pressed into service with recovery efforts.  We finally undid all the bolts and bracing and fell it like a tree.

Comtech dish on the ground

Comtech dish on the ground

The dish was then cut up and put in the dumpster.

The new satellite dish will be installed next to building in a lower position.

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7 comments to Wind damage

  • Lester Daffin

    Hi Paul. It’s wonderful to see you posting on this site again. Have missed your info. The subjects you post are always truly interesting, and fascinating to a real old retired radio guy. Please keep on with such good info. Many thanks and take care.

  • Gregg Richwine

    In the last picture, is that a cock-eyed STL dish on the roof, or am I having perspective issues?

    Sad the dish had to come down, but I will wager they will appreciate the new dish next winter. Cleaning pole-mounted dishes is not fun, especially where the dishes are pointed now.

  • Allen Sherrill

    We have two of those Comtech dishes at our main facility, very similar to the one pictured. Fortunately they are at ground level, and are still in fairly good shape.

    Years ago at a previous job, the station had a Simulsat dish that was mounted about nine feet off the ground, so the GM could park under it. Any time I needed to work on the feed assembly, I had to get a 32-foot ladder out.

  • Val Vashon

    So was this dish not in service? Are they using some other dish for satellite receive? What satellite is radio traffic on these days?

  • Paul Thurst

    Gregg, the STL dish is straight (Horizontally polarized). It does look crooked in the photo.
    Allen, Simulsat; that brings back memories…
    Val, the dish was in use, however, the satellite service also has a backup internet stream. Apparently it cut over without problems. We are currently working on replacing the dish with a ground mounted unit.

  • Chris R.

    Have a 3.8M that the same thing happened to. Only it is ground mounted and the weeks of rain fully saturated the ground. Then the high winds shifted the concrete pad in the ground. In the process of replacing the pad. Only larger/deeper this time. The dish looks west at GAL15 and into the wind.
    One of the small dishes on the roof got dragged about 10 feet. This kind of weather is getting common here.

  • Paul Burt

    Installed my share of those Comtech dishes 30 years ago. Think I still remember the specs / demands of the client (LA State Radio Network): 8′ long 5″ O.D. schedule 40 pipe, bottom sliced and bent-up to make an anti-spin section, 6′ in the ground and 2′ up, with no less than ten 80 lb bags of Sakrete down the hole. You could assemble, mount and tune it by yourself, but it was not a fun day if so. To help pick it up, a friend made a “C”-shaped gin-pole with a boat winch that made life so much easier
    BTW: when you cut up the dish, did you notice the “active” (metal) element in the reflector? Window screen! I was told what made them work so well was the fiberglass holding the screen in exact position.
    Glad to see you back online, Paul.

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