11/1/21 Wilderness Repeater Trip

  • Swapped out Motorola MTR2000s to spare pair configured for external controller
  • Installed Arcom RC210 repeater controller
  • Replaced 5″ wall entry boot and cushion to seal the cable penetration
  • Bonding/Grounding Work:
    • Tied to building ground pigtail
    • Tied to pole ground buss bar
    • Installed building external ground buss bar
    • Bonded ice bridge to both building and pole buss bar
    • Reestablished ground connection to inside rack and lightning arrestors
  • Added 10′ RG-400 jumpers between Polyphasers and duplexers to reduce connector torque and stress
  • Redressed cables in rack
  • Removed helical preamp assemblies after testing both VHF and UHF HT coverage from valley
    • These had been added during the DR-1X era to clean up the receiver front end, no longer necessary with the MTR2000s
  • Additional housekeeping in the rack

Repeater Upgrade Project Update

Status

A team of volunteers will be working at the Wilderness site in early June to replace the DR-1X repeaters with new to us Motorola MTR2000 commercial repeaters. Sensitivity throughout the winter has been lackluster at best. Fortunately there haven’t been a lot of public service events and no emergency communication incidents on the repeaters since the swap in October. With COVID-19 delaying/cancelling most public events the last couple months and in to early summer, we have a window of time to replace the hardware without affecting the public service mission of the team.

Due to the way there was other hardware mounted on the pole we’re attached to at the site, we had to temporarily mount the new Sinclair dipole antenna on to an abandoned power mast on the building. The way it sits places the metal roof in front of/in line with the VHF dipoles and reflects a bit on the UHF dipoles (UHF over VHF stacked on a common mast). Moving up to the pole will do two things for the emergency communications repeaters: 1) improves coverage by clearing from the metal obstructions on the roof and 2) moves us above/in line with the FM broadcaster on the pole which directly affects the noise floor of the receivers.

Valley Wide REACT operates a total of several amateur repeaters to support public service and emergency communications in the Treasure Valley:

  • Full Time Repeaters
    • 146.780- PL100.0/100.0 at Wilderness Ridge near Bogus Basin known as North Command
    • 444.725+ PL100.0/100.0 at Wilderness Ridge near Bogus Basin known as North Ops
    • 444.275+ PL123.0/123.0 at Crescent Rim in downtown Boise known as Valley Ops
  • Tactical Repeaters
    • 444.275+ PL100.0/100.0 on demand for the Middleton area known as West Ops
    • 146.780- PL88.5/CSQ on demand portable repeater
    • VHF Business Band suitcase repeater 151/158 MHz

These repeaters are used to support logistics and disaster support needs for the all-volunteer Valley Wide REACT team, amateur radio operators and the community.

December 6, 2019 Repeater Update

Quick update on the repeater network status:

Wilderness Ridge

  • VHF coverage is impaired – DR-1X in high RF environment issue, to be resolved in the spring during Motorola upgrade.
  • UHF coverage is impaired – DR-1X transmit range does not match receiver range, to be resolve in the spring during Motorola upgrade.
  • Antenna still at temporary location on building, impairing coverage. To be resolved during spring work moving back up on to the telephone pole.
  • Repeater controller issues traced down to issues with firmware, unable to do further programming until firmware is upgraded locally in the spring. Functional for basic voice use at this time.
  • Looking at options for possible GMRS or LMR repeater at this site in the spring.

Crescent Rim

  • Antenna and feedline replaced, handheld coverage improved.
  • Pending Motorola upgrade project.
  • Now has S1 coverage in to Middleton, S5+ to Highway 16

Middleton

  • Temporarily will be turned up for Middleton Parade at K6LOR QTH
  • May deploy permanent repeater at this location for future events
  • Shares frequency pair with Crescent Rim/different PL tone
  • Already have low power Motorola hardware for this location
  • Will need new repeater controller

Motorola Upgrade Project

  • Standardizing on the modern Motorola MTR2000 100 watt commercial repeater platform
  • Working with a vendor in Iowa for a quantity discount on all production repeaters plus spares
  • High performance preselector and interfacing for repeater controllers
  • Fully PC programmable and supported by local Motorola dealership, extensive repair part availability
  • Allows for a migration roadmap to MMVDM with the Kansas DMR Group plug in board for P25/YSF/DSTAR/DMR digital access; initially will be analog only

Portable Repeaters

  • Current available portable repeaters:
    • LMR 151/158 MHz suitcase repeater (K6LOR)
    • 146.780- PL88.5 solar repeater (needs new duplexer/retuned)
  • Future Repeaters
    • 3x DR-1X dual band portable repeaters for in band/cross band use

LMR Repeaters

  • Aligned GE/Harris Mastr III NB 151/158 MHz repeater ready for deployment
  • 2nd GE/Harris Mastr III spares with P25 gear for interfacing
  • Interest in a GMRS repeater in the Boise front area

146.780-/444.725+ Repeater Update 10/22/2019

Good day all, an update on the upgrade of our Wilderness Repeaters (aka North Command (146.780) and North Operations (444.725). The goal being to replace the aging and damaged equipment thus allowing a more efficient operation and much better handheld coverage through the valley.

On October 20th, a team of five Valley Wide REACT members (AJ K6LOR, Russ N7SMA, Chris N3JHR, Tim N7UBO, and myself Tyler K7XTS) took a trip up to the site to begin upgrade work on the repeaters.

So here is a look at our old repeaters or a before upgrade. Pre-upgrade it was found that the 444.725+ GE MASTR II had an issue that as it began to warm up after a few minutes it would lose just about all of its receive capability. It has not yet been determined what the cause of the issue is yet but we’re assuming old age.

Here is a look of the antennas at the current time. The plan was to remove the top antenna (146.780) and replace it with our new custom made Sinclair folded dipole dual band antenna. Unfortunately due to an unknown factor of a new antenna lower on the pole we were not able to gain access to the top of the pole to add the new antenna. So that is on hold until next Spring at the moment. If you look just to the left we were able to mount the new antenna to a lower spot on the building for a temporary solution.

Here is a closer look at the new antenna just after receiving it, the black blocks are just from shipping.
Here we see Chris N3JHR mounting the nearly 18foot long antenna in the temporary location.
Chris N3JHR (ground) and Tyler K7XTS (ladder) finishing antenna tests and connections.
Here we see Tim N7UBO sealing up some of the new half inch heliax coax runs.

New Repeaters!

So you’ve seen the antennas and antenna work, now lets get to the good stuff!

Below you’ll see a look at the new repeaters painstakingly set up and modified by the team lead AJ K6LOR. Two Yaesu DR-1X Repeaters, one is for the 146.780- and the other is for the 444.725+. Below that is the UHF duplexer for the 444.725+ and to the left outside the rack is the VHF duplexer for the 146.780-. And finally at the bottom of the rack is the Arcom RC210 Repeater Controller. It is estimated that will the loss of filtering and what not that the 146.780- is outputting 20 watts of power and the 444.725+ is outputting 26watts of power.

So status of the repeater modes of operation. At times the repeaters may be set to fixed analog use when required for resource use as needed such as event use. At this time we also do not have access to internet at the site, so there is no YSF rooms or internet linking.

Repeater Controller

Speaking of linking, the 146.780 and 444.725 do have a full time link to each other unless it is decided that they need to be unlinked for different resource uses.

As for other controller modes and what not, It may be in the works that the repeater will have a special event mode for use with various events thus eliminating voice ID, courtesy tones, and shortening hang times. As a REACT member you will be notified once modes will have gone into effect. If you are not involved with an event once the repeaters go into event mode it is asked that only event and emergency related traffic be passed via the repeater.

Also now the repeaters broadcast a PL tone of 100hz to help prevent squelch crashes and what not but that is still being worked on. It is worth noting that on the 146.780 repeater if you set up a receive tone of 100hz you may not hear the repeater ID, this was done intentionally to help cut down on user radio traffic.

It is also important to note that at this time repeater controller fine tuning is still taking place so repeaters modes or timings may be changed without notice.

Future Plans

AJ K6LOR is still working with fine tuning the controller for our needs. As for other physical work will have to wait till summer of 2020 such as moving the antenna to the higher proper location shown in the pictures above. At this time, it is uncertain but it may be possible to add a VHF power amplifier to the 146.780 and weather radio alerting down the line.

Summary

For the time being, we have achieved our greater goal of replacing the old equipment with new equipment and it appears that handheld coverage and coverage in general has greatly improved.

Well that is all for the time being, however we will do our best to keep you informed of future upgrades of the repeaters including our Valley Ops and West Ops repeaters. If you have any questions or concerns please shoot us an email at info@vwreact.org or you can come check us out our meeting the 3rd Wednesday of every month at the Nampa IHOP on Caldwell Blvd. at 7 pm MST.

We want to give a thanks to all who were involved in the upgrade project, and a big thanks to AJ K6LOR as he took and is still taking big chunks out of his busy schedule to help keep our repeaters humming along.

73’s and see you next time, Tyler K7XTS signing off.

Beautiful view of the Treasure Valley from the repeater site.

New updated DMR Codeplugs

I’ve updated the Boise DMR MotoTRBO codeplugs for popular radios and fixed a zone naming issue. Old codeplugs have been moved in to the Old Codeplugs folder.

Right click to save as – these are NOT working in Microsoft Edge browser for some reason.

Connect Systems CS750

Tytera/TYT MD380 (may work with MD380G/MD390 versions as well – just copy and paste)

Motorola XPR4550 mobile

Motorola XPR6550 handheld

Also available is the 450-512 MHz split to Amateur conversion file in case you have a high split radio. READING the radio with this codeplug will reset it back to the factory split – just write and save, using the saved file moving forward.

Motorola XPR6550 450-512 modified codeplug for Amateur Use

73 all,

AJ, K6LOR

Welcome to 2015

Happy New Year! It’s going to be a very busy year for VWR. Your help is needed to make the events we support go smoothly. Volunteer now!

On the topic of repeaters, DMR aka MotoTRBO had a very big year in 2014, with 3 times as many active repeaters on DMR-MARC as there were in 2013. We are working together to find the best solution that will serve the community.

If you are interested in DMR aka MotoTRBO, please contact me at aj.grantham at gmail dot com!

Brief website outage & Fit One 2014

Sorry for the downtime everyone! The domain name that this site’s DNS points to expired a couple days ago and I thought it was set up to automatically renew. Oddly enough it wasn’t. So when it expired, the private NS entries dropped out and hosed several other sites. We’re back up!

Major thanks to everyone that came out this morning to assist on Fit One 2014 put on by the folks at St Luke’s. No major issues and things ran pretty smoothly. This year the organizers were on DMR rental radios (Motorola MotoTRBO XPR6550s) so we were only able to communicate with them using the one spare radio they had. In years past they’ve been on analog narrowband UHF that we were able to communicate directly with. Major improvement over last year as logistics was on simplex and medical was on the only repeater. This year both medical and logistics were on the repeater (different timeslots).

Quick edit – handhelds used were XPR6550s, not the mobile XPR4550 🙂

Field Day 2014

We’re putting together a Field Day team for June 28-29 with set up starting after 5 pm on Friday June 27. This will be at a location in south Caldwell. Email me if you are interested or call me directly.

-AJ, K6LOR