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Author Topic: Seismic Retrofitting of Ham Station  (Read 7356 times)

Posts: 39

« on: August 09, 2012, 12:41:33 PM »

I would like to physically secure my ham station to better withstand an earthquake. Does anyone have any suggestions what I should do and how to do it?

Could you recommend any products for securing ham gear within the shack?


Brian, KD6NRP

Posts: 2087

« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2012, 12:57:26 PM »

Google NEBS 4.  it's the earthquake-zone standard for commercial telecom.  you can buy the printed standard from Telcordia, but I will bet it's pricey as heck.

in the baldest statement, the building floats and everything inside it is tied down so bulldozers and dymanite can't move it.  it all interlocks, too, to functionally cross-brace everything.

if you don't have the home built to earthquake standards with cross-trussing and all that, the best you can do is strap down the radios and bolt down the table.  myself, I'd do the old dive out the door and hug the ground trick.  without the structure having been built to earthquake zoning, you don't have anything solid to start with to lock equipment down.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2012, 01:01:34 PM by KD0REQ » Logged

Posts: 376

« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2012, 04:41:22 PM »

Let's say your house is up to residential earthquake standards so it won't take damage but will shake around quite a bit, tipping your furniture etc. Would you need shock absorbers to protect your gear and keep it running during a quake, like the shock absorbers that get fitted to equipment installed in bomb shelters, or would you just tie it down?
I see there are NEBS 4 certified equipment racks for 19 inch gear.
I'd imagine that having solid state storage in your computer would help.

Posts: 2087

« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2012, 10:45:31 AM »

a considerable amount of telco gear uses pluggable hard drives, both solid-state and (late 90s design) PC card hard drives.  mostly this equipment is designed to load once and then operate, although safety-checking software exists to regularly interrogate the drive and alarm if it's missing.  otherwise, connections are wire-wrapped or punched down.  cards have very, very long pins for connectors to bus boards.

commercial/amateur construction varies all over the lot.  your old tube favorites could spit out the bottles easily.  stuff with friction plugs (usb, phono jacks) is likely to disconnect in a good temblor.  internal connectors like the fingers-to-flexboard used between modules in things like Yaekencoms will probably dislocate.

your best shot for equipment to stay operational is the ruggedized portable stuff.  the rest, depends on whether it was vibration tested to or beyond a 50G whack, or series of whacks.  most hard drives when spun down will withstand that.  running, not nearly.

consider also that building quakeproofing, if it has shock absorber pads, also has very firm limit control, so the building doesn't become a pogo stick.  if you are thinking of suspending operations desks from bungee cords or bays of those little rubber shock pads from mil surplus, you need a limit frame so the equipment doesn't rip loose and go tumbling.  each bang into the limits tests your shock resistance.

from watching the dismantling of the Safeguard anti-missle system with a news camera on my shoulder, which was built for more than earthquakes, there's a lot of hardware needed.  most of it was for the computers.  everything else was built "Army Strong."
« Last Edit: August 10, 2012, 10:52:40 AM by KD0REQ » Logged

Posts: 490

« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2012, 05:14:04 PM »

You could mount your gear in road cases that have the equipment isolated from the case by elastomeric (stout rubber) mounts. Have a power-cutoff switch to cut the power during the quake (if any thing comes loose, invariably, it will do less damage if it's not energized). Then you can power back up incrementally to assess damage.

Having hardened gear to start with, however, should improve your equipment's chance of survival (e.g. portable gear like a VX-1210, "toughbook" computers, etc.

Don't forget the safety of the operator, while you're planning!

Posts: 3289

« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2012, 05:45:16 AM »

From a navy perspective, bolt or strap down everything down.  Small L-brackets are handy for securing cabinets, equipment cases, etc.  I would build or add a strong 'shelf' over the top of equipment on the operating desk to protect from falling debris.   

Metal or wood strips can be added to the edges of desks or tables to keep things from rolling or sliding off.   Sailors have a special way of slotting the strips so they can be lowered or raised and locked.  Don't forget to bolt free standing book shelves or cabinets to the wall to keep them from tipping over.

I'm sure that FEMA or the California department of earthquakes has detailed recommendations that are adaptable to ham shacks.

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