Summary:

Technical team members went to the VE7EGO site to do the following:

  • squelch setting changes on the DR-2X repeaters
  • power cycle the DR-2X repeaters
  • internet cable check
  • enable the shack fan
  • clean the shack air intake
  • install new rack shelf

Attendees:

VE7WWJ Jane
VE7KPZ Mike

VE7WBM Brad (remote tester)

Access:

The usual route was taken to access the VE7EGO Commonage site. Jane and Mike travelled up and down from the site in the Unimog - the 7 metric ton billy goat.

Just before heading in to the VE7EGO site, Mike texted Kevin at 250-744-0732. Kevin 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.

Events Leading Up To The Visit

The Vernon Winter Carnival parade coordination community service event this last winter showed how tight the VE7EGO VHF repeater's squelch setting was. HTs needed to run a full 5 watts to break squelch. The utility of using a repeater for a service event is so that HTs can be used on their 0.5 watt setting (low power) and thus have their battery last the whole day in cold conditions. If the repeater won't break squelch with anything less than 5 watts, that's no help.

Every once in a while Yaesu DR-2X repeaters enjoy a power cycling. We usually do it via the PiEGO, but that management system has not yet been reinstalled at the site.

Our shack's internet service had been down for a while, with an issue notably occurring in the first meter of the ethernet cable closest to our ISP's ethernet switch. Sometimes cable fault distance sensing is inaccurate, so it's always a good idea to check the rest of the cable, between the demarcation box at the ISP's shack and our shack.

With PiEGO v2 still on the bench and summer coming soon, the shack fan was simply off, with nothing to control it's relay switch.

Jane observed that opening the shack door with the shack fan running would allow the fan to exhaust more air, indicating an imbalance of intake and exhaust air, thus causing a vacuum in the shack when the door was closed.

Mike had bought a rack shelf many months ago, for another project. As he wasn't using it, he might as well donate it to NORAC and put it in the VE7EGO shack.

Actions Taken:

Mike opened up the VE7EGO shack and went straight to the DR-2X repeaters. He adjusted their squelch settings to one level above the noise floor. Changes were made on the VHF, UHF and control channels. For the rest of the 2 hour site visit, Mike monitored for any unintended squelch openings. None were observed.

Mike power cycled both DR-2X repeaters. After powering up, Mike confirmed the new squelch settings were indeed saved.

Next was to check the internet cabling. Mike unplugged our cable from the ethernet protection device inside our shack. The team opened the demarcation box at our ISP's shack, the ISP's patch cable was disconnected from our cable, a patch cable was plugged into the end of our cable and then the cable tester's end terminator was installed on the end of the patch cable. Then back to the NORAC shack to check our cable with the tester. All pass. No issue with our cabling. All testing equipment was removed, our cable plugged back in at both ends and the demarcation box closed up.

Mike determined which breaker the shack fan was running on, switched it off, confirmed no AC voltage remained on the hot lead and then proceeded to remove the fan control relay. A simple marette reconnected the fan's load wire directly and everything was neatly packed back into the electrical junction box. Turning on the breaker, the fan sprung to life and started exhausting the shack's air.

There were quite the number of mosquitoes atop the Commonage West hill so the shack door was kept closed most of the time the team worked at the site. On a quick opening, Jane noticed that the shack fan would push more air with the door open. Examining the shack air intake, Jane noticed that it was 80% blocked. To eliminate the vacuum situation, Jane found a small brush in the Unimog's camper and cleaned out the air intake screen. After cleaning, the fan drew the same amount of air whether the shack door was open or closed.

Jane found the rack screws that Mike had stashed on a previous visit to the site and the team installed the surplus rack shelf into the rack just above IRLP system components. On a future visit we may move the IRLP components to the shelf, the PiEGO v2 and related components to the shelf, or perhaps a future project will reside there.

At the end of the visit Mike reconfirmed that the VHF and UHF repeaters were functioning normally. Then Brad VE7WBM did a little remote testing of the IRLP system. Brad reports that the IRLP is now working... so our ISP has indeed fixed the cabling issue on their end - yay!

Next Steps:

We'll want to get PiEGO v2 installed as soon as possible and revert the always-on shack fan control changes from today. PiEGO v2 controls the shack fan based on shack temperature.

We would like to ask club members when they are next by Seaton school to try their HT on low power with the VE7EGO VHF repeater in analog FM. Can you key the repeater reliably on low power now? Have a QSO with a friend and ask for a signal report. Let us know how it goes by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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

May 16, 2020 - Vernon BC
 
Hi All,
 
The VA7OKN repeater is back on the air, at a new location (Garry VE7EIY Garbutt's house) with a new purpose:
 
Repeater Callsign - VA7OKN
 
UHF - Mixed Mode
449.525- 
Analog - CTCSS Tone 100.0 Hz (TX and RX) 
NXDN - 6.25Khz (Very Narrow) with RAN Code 1 (TX and RX)
 
VHF - remote base
146.900 - 
Analog - Tone 123.0 Hz (TX and RX) 
 
Link - VHF <-> UHF - Normally on.
Disable link 213 - Enable link 212
 
Operational Notes:
 
- Cross mode. A user on VHF analog has the ability to talk to a NXDN digital or analog user on UHF and vice versa
-  It is recommended a user decode the UHF repeater with 100Hz tone. This will prevent the user from hearing NXDN data when the repeater is used in digital.
- 4 repeater modes are available (all are mixed mode) 
** Default analog + Low & High Power
** Default NXDN + Low and High Power  
** 4 db difference between Low and High Power
 
Enjoy the repeater as it is open for all amateurs to use however I encourage you to support your local club with a membership or donation to support efforts & costs in maintaining local repeaters.   
 
The specs!
 
Antenna System
- UHF antenna  - 7.2 db Diamond X-50A antenna - coax 50 feet LMR-400
- VHF antenna - 3db Maxad Antenna - coax 50 feet LMR-240
 
UHF Repeater TX Power Specifications
-Repeater TX Power -  High - 31 watts - Low 12 watts
-Duplexer Loss 1.4db
--TX Power after duplexer loss  - High - 22 watts - Low 8.6 watts
-LMR 400 cable loss 1.4db
--TX Power after cable loss  - High - 16 watts - Low 6.25 watts
-Antenna gain 7.2db
--Effective Radiated Power (ERP) High - 84 watts - Low 33 watts
--Receiver unmutes at .2uV - 5-6 db of receiver hysteresis 
 
VHF Remote Base TX Power Specifications
-Repeater TX Power -  7 watts
-Duplexer Loss N/A
-LMR 240 cable loss 1.5db
--TX Power after cable loss  - High - 5 watts
-Antenna gain 3DB
--Effective Radiated Power (ERP) 10 watts
--Receiver unmutes at .18uV - 5-6 db of receiver hysteresis
 
FYI and 73,
Wilf VE7OHM
 
 
A note from Mike VE7KPZ: this is a great system to showcase how NXDN compares to analog FM in a weak signal scenario.

Hi All,

I love APRS.

In the North Okanagan we have a great APRS digipeater atop Silverstar mountain, but historically there have been no local IGates. For our local APRS traffic to get to/from the internet, it had to go though Kelowna, Kamloops or iGates well north of us, usually going through another digipeater, using up valuable hops.

A little background: IGates gate RF APRS traffic into and out of the APRS-IS network (via the internet). This facility not only enables sites like aprs.fi and aprsdirect.com to show positional and telemetry data, but also facilitates features like SMS gating and email gating.

It's very easy to setup a RX-only IGate, and I did just that for my first APRS project. I used a Beaglebone Black, a RTL-SDR receiver and the Dire Wolf software AX.25 modem package. However, APRS is a 2-way communication network, so I moved on to implementing a RX+TX solution.

I chose a Microsat WX3in1 Plus 2.0 device for the brains of the RX+TX system. Some might say I actually went a bit backwards here, from a high-performance software modem (that can RX and TX) to more of a hardware solution. However, these Microsat "solutions" are very well reviewed, are quite reliable as they are optimized exclusively for APRS, and show packet decoding results among the best for hardware and software TNCs.

I hooked the Microsat up to an Icom IC-2300H radio. This radio is quite robust with mil spec ratings and a TCXO. It can easily run 65 watts TX for the APRS iGate all day long without a fan.