Assateague Lighthouse Repeater Antenna?

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There is nothing like going to the beach.

Seafood, sand in everything you own, beach strolls, a time with family away from the usual distractions of life.

What better to do at the beach than visit the local lighthouse… especially a big coastal light station like Assateague Lighthouse on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Of course being a ham makes you notice things others miss with your “hammy eyes.”

Follow along in this picture tour of our visit to Assateague Lighthouse in 2007 and see the unusual thing we found within.

Welcome to the Lighthouse...
Welcome to the Lighthouse...

The Majesty...
The Majesty...

Amazing Stairs...
Amazing Stairs...

There is just something cool about metal stairs forged from pig iron rather than crafted from sheet metal. Lots of people were climbing and descending and these things shook not.

Superb Views...
Superb Views...

30 Mile Lights...
30 Mile Lights...
A Duplexer...
A Duplexer...
Stout Machinery...
Stout Machinery...

WAIT

A Duplexer in a Lighthouse !?!?!

Yes that’s right. We walked right past a repeater system run by the Fish and Wildlife service. Here is a close up of the controller…

The repeater controller on its side.
The repeater controller on its side.

…and here is a view of the duplexer…

The Repeater's Duplexer
The Repeater's Duplexer

Six cans… three each for receive and transmit. Each can has two connectors suggesting these are the band pass type. I didn’t see any external components like you find with Band Pass plus Notch types.

That looks like Heliax between the Tee connector and the antenna… Right On! Keep that IMD and PIM at bay. The whole system is just below the observation deck of the lighthouse. I sure hope those are N connectors and not PL-259s. Hmmm, I wonder where the antenna actually is? Let’s look at another ground view photo…

View looking up at repeater antenna.
View looking up at repeater antenna.

Aha, I think I see it. Let’s zoom in…

Collinear Repeater Antenna
Collinear Repeater Antenna

There it is… a four element Collinear array spread out a bit for coverage. I really have to wonder how the brick of the lighthouse, and its metal stairs within, mess with this repeater’s footprint. Of course it may be plenty good enough and we all know “Better is the enemy of Good Enough.”

I guess I was caught off guard seeing this equipment just laying on the floor for anyone to bump into. Notice the power cord is “right there” and not very secure. I’m not saying the Fish and Wildlife Service is an integral part of homeland security, but it probably makes sense to secure this equipment just a little better. These pictures were taken in 2007 so who knows what is there these days. I certainly can’t argue with the Fish and Wildlife folks about their choice for their antenna position. Assateague Lighthouse is the tallest structure along much of the shoreline.

Lighthouses offer something for the whole family and, in the case of Assateague in 2007, something for this ham too.

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