Summary:

Technical team members went to the VE7EGO site to sort out the power issues for the DR-2X repeaters. They discovered a malfunctioning PiEGO (likely due to a recent extended period of extreme cold). The call was made to pull it out of circuit. The repeaters were plugged into AC-power directly. The PiEGO will be delivered to Terry VE7TRZ for analysis, fix-up and future issue mitigation.

Attendees:

VE7JAR Jerome
VE7WEA Jake
VE7KPZ Mike

VE7TRZ Terry (remote via phone)
VE7AM Mike (remote tester)
VE7WBM Brad (remote tester)

Access:

The usual route was taken to access the VE7EGO Commonage site. Mike drove his Unimog and picked up Jerome and Jake at the parking lot by the baseball diamonds, just across the street from the Emmanuel Baptist Church. Mike then buried the Unimog in the snowbank just outside the regular gate. The team proceeded on snowshoes to the site. On return, some digging and a couple of pairs of Maxtrax made easy work of the Unimog's snowbank recovery. Then back in the Unimog to the parking lot where everyone split up to head home in their own vehicles.

Just before snowshoeing in to the VE7EGO site, Mike telephoned Kevin at 250-744-0732 who is in charge of exploding/disposing of WW2 munitions still in the hillsides. Upon departure from the site, Mike texted Kevin to notify him of our departure. Kevin likes to know both the ins and outs of our visits to the VE7EGO site. He prefers a call when inbound and a text when outbound.

Events Leading Up To The Visit

It was really cold (-24 C) for several days. The PiEGO, the device that controls power for the DR-2X repeaters at the site, malfunctioned and in doing so switched all of it's controlled power outlets off. This meant that the DR-2X repeaters stayed powered off.

Actions Taken:

Once at the shack, the team inspected the situation. Jake had a pretty good understanding of the PiEGO's Raspberry Pi component and noted that a green light was out. This likely meant that the BIOS that is stored on the Pi's microSD card was corrupt.

With Terry on the phone, the call was made to bring the PiEGO down to Terry's QTH bench.

Jerome was very resourceful in sorting out how to physically remove the PiEGO from the site (he used some pliers as a screwdriver as we were missing the specific screwdriver type for the job).

The repeater power cords were moved back to direct AC power instead of being plugged into the PiEGO's power bar.

Mike proceeded to test the re-powered repeaters with the help of Mike VE7AM and Brad VE7WBM.

Next Steps:

Terry will inspect the PiEGO and determine the root cause of the failure. He'll bring recommendations to the next club meeting to mitigate future issues with the system.

 

FYI,
Mike VE7KPZ
NORAC Vice-President 2017-2020, Technical Committee Lead 2020 and Avid Snowshoer

 

Ps: we were quite busy getting the Unimog stuck, putting on snowshoes, snowshoeing, sorting the issue, snowshoeing and then getting the Unimog unstuck, so we only took one picture:

Here you see a happy Mike, Jerome and Jake just before locking up the shack and heading back down the hill.

December 27-29, 2019 - Grid Square DO00ON

 

It felt like it was about time for another radio-themed camping trip. Jane VE7WWJ and Mike VE7KPZ loaded up their Unimog camper, affectionately named "the Lunchbox" and headed out to Hidden Lake for some HF contesting fun.

You see, out in the woods, far away from civilization, QRM/QRN is low. So low in fact that sometimes it doesn't even read on the S-meter. This makes for a great radio operating experience.

The first challenge was getting into the site. The Unimog with camper weighs in at approx 7000 kg. This meant the truck's 45 inch "gravel" tires needed to have chains installed to traverse the unplowed road. Chains were installed within an hour but progress down the road slow at a top speed of 10 km/h, all lockers engaged.

Arriving at the site, it was soon dark - too late to throw a line into a tree. So the first antenna up was the Wolf River Coils TIA vertical. A couple of contacts were made with the TIA, a notable QSO into Ontario on 80m, but the call was made to go to bed early and get up at first light to set a line into a promising tree for the big antenna.

At first light, the right tree was selected, the line thrown and soon the HyEndFed Field Day EFHW antenna was up. This antenna is a monster at a full 40m in length. It is resonant on 80, 40, 20, 17, 15, 12 and 10 meters (and usable on 30m with a tuner) - perfect for a single-radio portable contesting effort.

Mike quickly got to work with his Yaesu FT-891 making many QSOs on 80, 40 and 20 meter bands. Some operators said 15 meter was open, but every time Mike checked, it was quiet.

By the contest finish time of 4 PM PST, Mike had made 65 QSOs, collected 11 multipliers and achieved a total score of 4972 points. Not bad for a single operator, 100 watt, phone-only, completely unassisted effort.

Highlights of the event:

  1. Working VE3CX in Ontario on 80m on Friday night 7:38 PM Pacific time.
  2. Hearing VA7GE Tym's ground wave.
  3. Hearing VA7AEJ Aaren's ground wave.
  4. Working VE7OGO Mike (VE7FI) and the Kevin (VE7XY) at Chute Lake on 80m on Saturday afternoon at 3:51 PM Pacific time.
  5. Getting S9+20 reports from various ragchew stations on 80m after the event.

Big thanks to Jane for her assistance in every aspect of the weekend.

It was fun,
Mike VE7KPZ
NORAC Vice-president 2017-2020, technical committee member and RAC Canada Winter contest participant