About VK5BB

Licenced radio amateur since 1973. Previous call signs, VK5ZBB, VK5ABE (1978) Worked in the radio communications industry since 1970. Interests are in 6 metres, home brewing, SDR, have a HPSDR, Wireless Institute of Australia advocate.

IRLP Node 6214 back on air!

The AREG IRLP node 6214 via VK5RSB 70cm is now back on air and available for general use.

The IRLP nodes “new” computer is now a Raspberry Pi 2, with modifications to the IRLP board to allow for operation on 3 volts as is used by the Raspberry Pi.

During both the morning and afternoon drive times, Monday to Friday, the node 6214 will be off line. It is available all the time Saturday and Sundays.

Weekday morning:

  • off at 07:00am
  • on at 09:30am

Weekday afternoon:

  • off at 3:00pm
  • on at 7:00pm

Access for IRLP operation still requires the current issued access code.

(details may be found at  http://www.areg.org.au/activities/irlp-node-6214)

DTMF “0” is the only “free” access to advise the status of the IRLP linking.

I will write up a blog report with photos for the AREG web pages in due course.

Feedback on the IRLP operations is most welcome, might need to make some level adjustments???

Ben VK5BB

AREG IRLP Node 6214 Administrator

VK5RWN D-Star repeater site antenna tower replacement.

Back in mid August 2017, the tower supporting the antennas for the VK5RWN D-Star repeater system was damaged during the big blow that accompanied the storms. The tower, which was a section of a Hills Telemast bolted at the roof line of the communications hut, has been in service for about 27 years and was in good order. It appears that the wind loading had been exceeded during the August storms and the tower was bent just above the roof line of the building and the top section with the antennas was approximately 30 degrees off the vertical.

Well, no option, it had to be replaced!

The working bee at the VK5RWN site was scheduled for Tuesday 19 December 2017.

Ben VK5BB was at the site around 0845 hrs local time and the other members of the work crew arrived shortly afterwards.

Apart from initial preparations, and the OH&S site survey, the first job of the day was to erect the scaffolding, on the roof of the building! Gave us very easy access to all antennas for disassembly. The scaffolding was also used for the reassembly, thereby minimising the need to actually climb the tower, though Colin VK5ACE later did, to re-mount the 2m antenna at the top.

From there the antenna equipment was easily removed and the bent tower was cut off just above the bend in the tower (just above the roof line) and the tower easily removed. The coaxes were laid out to one side so as not to be damaged and ready for re-installation.

Whilst the old tower was being removed, other members bolted the new tower sections together ready for erecting. The new tower is two sections of Hills 330mm Butt Section mast, with additional plates fitted at the join of the two sections to provide some additional strength at the join.

The top end of the new tower was lifted (man-handled with ropes) above the adjacent hut and then the base lifted into position near where it was to be mounted. Using the ropes, the tower was then pulled upright, across the gap between the two buildings to its mounting position, loosely bolted in place whilst we marked out where the base bolts were to go, drilled and fitted the Dyna bolts and the tower was firmly bolted in place. Actually went in place quite well with a minimum of jiggling etc!

Lunch time! (about 1300 hrs local)

After lunch, the antenna cross arm and antennas were refitted, thanks to Colin VK5ACE, the main climber/rigger for the day. As the Wi-Fi dishes were refitted, the day started to get a bit blowy but the dishes were pointed approximately in the right directions. The 2m 7 element Yagi for the Broadcast Source transmitter was re-installed as a 3 element Yagi and pointed at Crafers. All coaxes were resealed, dressed and cable tied to the tower.

All antennas are back in their old positions, determined by the lengths of the various coax feeds. The tower, now 9m high, carries a 2m, a 70cm and a 23cm vertical “white stick” collinears, two 200mm Wi-Fi dishes and a 3 element 2m vertical Yagi.

Job done!

All equipment was turned on again and the various systems tested, we even had the Internet back on at the site, so we did get the dish right, either that or it has strong side lobes. (The Internet connection was previously still working even though the dish was pointed at the sky? A relay from the ISS??)

Clean up, and we were gone by 1700 hrs local.

The D-Star operations were checked at the site and later again from Ben’s QTH and all was good, including remote access to both the D-Star and the Broadcast computers.

Crew on site;

  • Trevor, VK5ATQ, roustabout and also supplied the scaffolding, (NERC member)
  • Rod, VK5ZRK, roustabout, (NERC member)
  • David, VK5MDF, roustabout, (NERC member)
  • Colin, VK5ACE, rigger, (AREG member)
  • Jeff, VK5IU, “supervisor” and roustabout, (AREG member)
  • Ben, VK5BB, project manager, 2nd climber/rigger, (AREG member)

Many thanks to the crew who helped during the day and especially Olga VK5FOLG, as she supplied a fresh cut lunch for all and delivered on site about 10 minutes before the lunch break.

Reports from the D-STAR users have reported a significant improvement of signal strengths at Balaclava and Mt Barker on 2m and from Hallet Cove on 70cm, so all appears to be good again.

Next task for the VK5RWN D-STAR system is the upgrade of the computer to a new 64bit system running CentOS 7 64 bit and the new G3 gateway software. This is scheduled for early in 2018.

VK5RSB Maintenance Day – Battery Backup & 6m Antenna

Since the statewide power blackout last year, AREG has been assembling replacement parts for the battery backup system on our VK5RSB repeater system. Now that this last weekends excitement is over, I am now able to compile and present a detailed report on the working bee at the VK5RSB repeater site at Summertown.

Working bee members,

  • Ben VK5BB
  • Colin VK5ACE
  • Paul VK5BX
  • Adrian VK5ZBR
  • Rod VK5UDX (both Rod and Adrian were on an official task at the site in their employment but were able to spend time assisting at the site)
  • David VK5MDF (invited visitor from NERC)

The aim of the working bee was to replace the cavities on the 23cm repeater, reinstate the battery backup system for the 70cm repeater (disconnected several years ago when the repeater was replaced with one requiring 24v input) and install (finally) the permanent replacement 6m repeater antenna (delayed multiple times in the past due to weather).

Work completed successfully included

23cm Repeater:

  • 23cm duplexer fine tuned (thanks to Paul VK5BX and his Specan/tracking generator)
  • the old 23cm removed and the new one fitted, tested into the antenna and live on air, all good

70cm Repeater

  • the 12 volt to 28 volt inverter installed into rack and wired in,
  • RF power out of 70cm when on battery backup has been set to 30 watts (normally 75 watts whilst mains power is active)
  • repeater tested on battery backup, draws just on 8 amps and puts a “beep” every 60 seconds to identify unit running on battery backup.
  • whilst on site, Paul took the opportunity to “Sweep” the VK5RSB 70cm antenna, return loss was good BUT it was identified that there IS a problem, a ringing or ripple on the return loss sweep, possibly due to a faulty connection in the line. We believe that the problem is most likely the coax connector on the top end of the LDF 450 coax, as this was not serviced or replaced when we changed and fitted the new antenna a couple of years back.This means another working bee, when the weather for working at the top of the tower is conducive.

6m Repeater

  • during the above work activities, Adrian and Rod were able to swap out the old 6m repeater antenna and install the new antenna. Once the new antenna was connected, a return loss sweep was done and all looked very good.
  • with the the 6m repeater reconnected to the antenna, it was still “going nuts” keying up very regularly on “spurious” Checks of the spectrum could not identify any specific signals the could be causing this other than the high noise floor. So Adrian wound the mute setting a bit higher and this fixed the regular intermittent keying of the repeater. (subsequent observations and reports are that the 6m repeater seems to be working very well and is generally quite when not being worked)

A big thank you to everyone who contributed to the work at VK5RSB. I am sure it will improve service for all amateurs in the greater Adelaide Metropolitan area.

VK5RWN Internet connectivity re-established.

wncdstar_logoFollowing up from the previous report that VK5RWN D-STAR system was off line due to site mains power failure.

Well the power came back on last night, 13 July 2016, but the internet connectivity did not?

A site visit this morning, 14 July 2016, identified that the POE power supply had died.

This is one of those little Blue QSKJ inverter modules that lifted the 12 volts to 16 volts to feed the router switch and the Ubiquiti WiFi unit up the tower. The faulty unit was replaced with a loan unit.

With the POE PS restored, connectivity was re-established and all is now good. Confirmed that the VK5RWN D-STAR system was fully operational and reporting to the respective D-STAR reporting sites.

Feedback on VK5RWN’s performance and operation may be sent to AREG, vk5arg@wia.org.au or the D-STAR Systems Administrator, Ben VK5BB, vk5bb@wia.org.au

VK5RWN D*STAR Repeaters OFFLINE – Mains Failure

During the wild weather in Adelaide over wncdstar_logothe past 48hrs, VK5RWN’s mains power was lost. Batteries held the site up for a while, but due to the extended nature of the outage these have now been exhausted.

AREG is monitoring for the mains power to be restored and will bring the system back online as soon as we can.

AREG IRLP Node 6214: Back online!

repeater tower clipartThe AREG Internet Repeater Linking Project (IRLP) node number 6214, is back online with the repairs to the ADSL line fault having been repaired. The repairs were effected quicker than advised by the Telecommunications provider. Contractors have replaced the land line from the street pit back to a service pillar. The new cable appears to be providing a clean noise free service.

The AREG wishes to thank IRLP users for their patience with this outage of service and trust that all users can now enjoy the restored service.

IRLP Node 6214 requires users to be registered and be issued with a PIN or Access code number. If you do not have this access number, you are most welcome to apply to the Node 6214 Administrators via email. Please see IRLP Club News for details of how to apply for access.

Please enjoy using the IRLP service as sponsored by AREG.

AREG IRLP Node 6214: Offline due to Internet Outage

The AREG Internet Repeter Linking Project node (IRLP) repeater tower clipartnumber 6214 is currently off the air due to an ADSL line fault affecting the internet link it is connected to. ETA on restoration currently is now Wednesday 20th July.

In the interim, the Internet service may or may not be available and if it is then the IRLP node may be available, depending on the quality of the service.

The AREG wishes to apologise for the distruption of the IRLP service via the 439.900 Summertown repeater, but ask people to please understand that the problem is beyond our control.

We are in contact with the telecommunications provider and will restore the service as soon as possible.

January General Meeting

Happy New Year to everyone from the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group, we hope that your projects and DX activities are fruitful for the new year.VK5GR portable VHF Field Day Jan 2016_4

AREG has started the New Year with the club station VK5ARG actively participating in the Summer VHF Field day contest this week, as well as Matt VK5ZM and Grant VK5GR going roving in the contest (VK5GR mobile 6m, 2m & 70cm, multiple grids on York Peninsula).

15th January General Meeting

AREG’s first general meeting for the new year is this coming Friday 15th January 2016 at the Reedbeds Hall, Fulham, doors open at 7:30 pm.

This meeting will be a business meeting followed by open general discussions, where you can enlighten the group on your latest ham radio related endeavour or project.

The invitation is open to everyone interested in ham radio activities, so come along and meet the AREG members, put a face to those you may have had QSO’s with over the last year and enjoy the evening with an active outgoing group of technically minded people.

Coffee, tea and cake will be on for a light supper to round off the evening.