Summary:

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

  • reboot the VHF DR-2X repeater
  • collect and deliver the IRLP node 1050 hardware to Brad VE7WBM's QTH for temporary relocation
  • skookum-up the shack roof

Attendees:

VE7WWJ Jane
VE7KPZ Mike

VE7WBM Brad (remote)
VE7UIH Ted (remote)
VE7TRZ Terry (remote)

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.

Just before heading in to the VE7EGO site, Mike telephoned 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 VHF DR-2X repeater was exhibiting the same odd behaviour that had previously been seen with the UHF DR-2X repeater.

On a previous visit to the site, it was noted that the roof tin was not looking so good in the northwest corner of the roof. Also, many of the roof screws were looking a little loose.

Brad had offered to host the IRLP node 1050 hardware while we sorted out internet for the mountain-top site.

Actions Taken:

Mike opened up the VE7EGO shack and went straight to the DR-2X VHF repeater. With a quick power cycle, the issue was fixed.

Mike re-enabled the VHF DR-2X repeater and tested first with Jane monitoring the repeater's display screen. This was followed by a true analog FM QSO test with Ted.

Mike disconnected the IRLP node's various connections and loaded the hardware into the Unimog for later transport to Brad's QTH.

Mike installed a new piece of roofing tin in the questionable northwest corner of the shack roof. He then proceeded to tighten many of the existing roof screws. The screws that were still loose were removed and replaced with bigger roofing screws. Then, additional large screws were installed in key areas of the roof as per Jane's instruction. In total approximately 100 screws were installed. Special thanks to Brad for donating the roofing screws. Special thanks to Jane and Mike for donating the roofing tin.

Jane and Mike then delivered the IRLP node hardware and the Sinclair folded dipole 3-element UHF yagi antenna to Brad's QTH. Special thanks to Mike for donating a PL-259 end for the yagi's coax. Brad will cut the existing end from the coax, run the coax through a hole in the wall of his QTH and then install the new PL-259 end. He'll point the yagi up towards SilverStar so that the node can again be accessed via the SIRG network.

After the visit, Terry and Mike discussed possible causes for both DR-2X repeaters malfunctioning at the same time. The current theory is that AC 120 V mains power may not be clean enough, especially given the wild weather the repeater site sees. 

Next Steps:

While we wait for the 5.9 GHz WiFi CPE order (so that we can setup our own P2P internet connection via Brad's QTH), Terry and Brad will setup the IRLP node at Brad's house. Thanks Brad for offering to host it again for a bit. Fortunately the setup is much smaller and quieter with the fanless PiRLP doing the computer work.

Mike has an APC SmartUPS 1500 and an APC SmartUPS 750 sitting around sans batteries (both picked up at an OCARC club meeting - thanks Gordon VE7GFH and donating party). Terry will pick one of the UPSes and find a suitable replacement battery, test the unit to confirm proper function (output voltage, sine wave, etc.) and then configure PiEGO to work with it. PiEGO can then automatically shut itself (and the PiRLP) down if the UPS battery runs low. The PiEGO can also monitor power events via either the USB or serial communication connections the UPS provides and send emails when critical events such as spikes, brownouts or electrical noise are observed. Even if the PiEGO has to wait until we revive internet connectivity at the site, we can configure the UPS to run with high sensitivity to power events and then install it at the site running in standalone mode. Having a UPS to cover short power events with a quick switchover to batter backup should ensure that the repeaters observe a cleaner AC 120 V mains supply.

 

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

Summary:

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

  • reboot the UHF DR-2X repeater

While on site it was observed that the internet connection had been lost, the IRLP 1050 node antenna was broken and the roof was coming off the shack. There must have been some very high winds at the site recently to do the antenna and roof damage.

Attendees:

VE7WWJ Jane
VE7KPZ Mike

VE7WBM Brad (remote)
VE7WEA Jake (remote)

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.

Just before heading in to the VE7EGO site, Mike telephoned 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

It was reported that the UHF DR-2X repeater was not working. Specifically, a transmit to the repeater would key the repeater but the output would be indiscernible, and continue on until the repeater's time-out timer stopped it. Brad had disabled the repeater remotely.

Actions Taken:

Mike opened up the VE7EGO shack and went straight to the DR-2X UHF repeater. With a quick power cycle, the issue was fixed.

Mike observed that the internet connection was again down.

Jane observed that the IRLP antenna had broken.

Mike observed that a corner of the roof appeared to be missing a couple of screws and was a bit deformed.

Mike re-enabled the UHF DR-2X repeater and tested a WIRES-X QSO with Jake (who was coming into the WIRES-X network via his own node).

Next Steps:

While we wait for the 5.9 GHz WiFi CPE order (so that we can setup our own P2P internet connection via Brad's QTH), we will move the IRLP node to Brad's house. Thanks Brad for offering to host it again for a bit.

Mike will work on implementing a new antenna for IRLP at the site.

Mike will bring up a piece of fresh roofing tin and the roofing screws that Brad donated so many years ago... and install it instead of the manky piece.

After leaving the site, it was observed that the VHF DR-2X repeater was doing the exact same thing as the UHF DR-2X repeater had been. This repeater has since been remotely disabled by Mike. We'll power cycle it to fix it when we revisit the site (soon) to bring the new roofing tin up and the IRLP node down.

 

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

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.

After waiting a little bit too long one day when doing some APRS message testing, I decided to setup a IGate for Vernon. I chose a Microsat WX3in1 Plus 2.0 device for the brains of the system. Some might say that software modems like Direwolf on a Raspberry Pi are where it's at today, 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.