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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.