Sunday, April 1, 2018

Ice Anchors

Another winter is over and with tower season beginning it is time to prepare for next winter's contests. This is an ideal time to consider an innovation in tower erection: ice anchors. They are fast, low cost and are a fantastic alternative for those that live in cold climates. So what are these ice anchors? I'm glad you asked.

But first some history of the use of ice in major construction projects throughout history. It really is a perfect material for our northern climate.
  • Ice roads: Arctic nations such as Canada build ice roads to reach isolated settlements right over top of tundra, bogs, lakes and rivers
  • Ice boats: Icebergs naturally float and have inspired the design of ice warships
  • Ice buildings: Igloos have been used for millennia and there are even ice hotels
  • Ice optics: Ice lenses can start fires and be used in cold weather telescopes
Well, you get the idea. What an exciting opportunity to finally utilize this common material for ham radio applications. Despite being literally in front of most of us all our lives we've overlooked its possibilities beyond hockey and curling. Therefore with no further delay we present the ice anchor!

The ice anchor is simply an ordinary guy anchor for big towers, but one that needs no concrete. It's so simple you'll wonder how it is that no one has thought of it before now. Don't believe me? I'll show you with step by step instructions:

Step 1: Dig a hole. This is exactly the same as the hole you'd need for a concrete anchor.

Step 2: Drop anchor into the hole and aim it at the tower. Use reinforcing since ice can be weak in tension, just like concrete.

Step 3: Fill hole with water. Pump it in or let nature do it for you if the weather cooperates.

Step 4: Sit back and relax! Winter is coming.

Once the anchor is frozen you are ready to attach guys and put up your tower! Soon your tower will be up and your antennas ready for the major contests. You can enjoy months of superior performance. Records will fall and DXCC Honor Roll will soon be yours. Should you ever move the anchors are easily removed for instant reuse at your new QTH.

But wait! There's more!

Of course this is not a year-round system. It is important that you take it all down after the contest season, before spring thaw gets going in earnest. Otherwise you may not be able to reuse the tower and antennas next year.

But surely that's a lot of maintenance to do every spring and fall. Lucky for you there is complementary technology that will convert your seasonal ice anchors permanent fixtures, saving you hours of biannual effort.

Heat pump: Install a closed loop coil system in your anchor holes and you can not only keep your anchors solid longer you can heat your home and your bath water.

XXXL Parasol: Shield your anchors from the hot sun during those warmer months.

Heavy water: Deuterium oxide (D2O) has a higher melting temperature and more mass to support especially large towers and antennas.

Who knows, someday we may see other application of ice technology in ham radio. Perhaps you'll be the first to design and build effective ice alloys that are suitable for antennas, radial fields or even semiconductors for self-cooled low noise amplifiers (LNA) for EME.

The future is now!

It's also April 1st.

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