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.

VK5RSB Repeater Extended Outages

Photo of downed powerlines courtesy ABC News

AREG’s VK5RSB Summertown repeaters  have been off air since Tuesday evening’s violent storm which has taken out power lines that feed the site. The restoration work according to SAPN is still progressing. The latest estimate for restoration is now 1.00pm today (31st December)..

We apologies for the outage on these major Adelaide repeater services, and are looking to see what can be done to reinstate the battery backup at the site which has failed.

VK5RSB Repeaters undergoing Maintenance – COMPLETED

The VK5RSB 70cm and 23cm repeaters may be off air for a period today whilst the mains power wiring at the site is worked on. Apologies for the short notice!

The 6m repeater should remain active as it is connected to the battery backup system on site.

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.

VK5RWN D*STAR 23cm 128kbit Data port in hibernation

wncdstar_logoThe Amateur Radio Experimenter’s Group wishes to advise that the 1299.700MHz 128kbit/s port of the VK5RWN D*STAR node has been placed into “hibernation”. In the entire life of the repeater this port has been accessed 3 times, and so rather than continuing to pay to keep it active it has been switched off. The equipment remains installed however so if you do desire to experiment with this aspect of D*STAR it will be a simple matter of contacting the club, and we can go and re-enable it for you. (This is to help further combat the $1000+ power bill the club foots to run this site each year).

Regards – The AREG Committee

16th October Meeting: D*STAR for Beginners

wncdstar_logoHave you ever wondered how to navigate the myriad of ways to access a D*STAR repeater and make contacts either locally or via the gateways? The come along to the next meeting of the Amateur Radio Experimenters’ Group on Friday October 16th where Ben, VK5BB,  will take you through how to get the most from your D*STAR radio when using VK5RWN. He will include information on how to access gateways, reflectors etc and will give you clues on how to set up your D*STAR radio to make the best use of the available network that sits behind the AREG D*STAR repeater.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Zuzu

ICOM IC-91AD D-STAR handheld (CC BY-SA 3.0)

So if you are new to D-STAR or would like to know a bit more about how to use D-STAR, here is an opportunity to find out and meet with some D-STAR users.

The meeting will be held at AREG’s club rooms at the Reedbeds Community Hall, Fitch Road, Fulham. The doors will be open at 1930 hours for a meeting start at 2000 hours local summer time.

As well as the formal presentation there will be ample time to meet with AREG members and talk about any and all things Amateur Radio. Visitors are most welcome, so please come along all and say hello! If you need help finding the hall, call on the 439.900 repeater (91.5Hz CTCSS).

Coffee, tea and cake will be on for a light supper, over which guests and members may ragchew on topics of the evening. Put it in your diary, AREG meeting this Friday the 16th October, 7:30 pm!

 

VK5RWN DSTAR – Operational Future secure until June 2016

VK5RWN D*STAR Repeater’s FUTURE without the WIA?

In November 2014, the AREG took over VK5RWN2Mover the full maintenance and financial support the VK5RWN D-Star repeater system in Adelaide after it was originally co-sponsored by the WIA. Since then, AREG has been working to reduce the operating costs of providing this service to the Adelaide amateur radio community.

Currently VK5RWN is the single largest operating cost the AREG currently has on its budget (the power bill alone is ~$600/year). Insurance, license fees, maintenance and rent nudge this figure closer to $1000/year.

At this stage, the AREG committee has agreed that the club has sufficient reserves to be able to support the system until the end of June 2016, at which time the system will again be reviewed. In order to maintain it beyond this time, the AREG really needs the registered DSTAR users to offer their ongoing financial support. As such, the club is now actively seeking yearly donations or preferably more of the D*STAR user community to become members of AREG.

If you are a registered user of this system then please consider joining AREG and throwing your support behind it’s continued operation. Alternatively, you can also consider making a yearly donation.

What is AREG doing to try and secure the systems future?

DStar_Radios_2014102402AREG has not been sitting idle in trying to find ways to keep the system running. So far, the following strategies have been implemented:

  • The ADSL Internet link and associated phone line have been replaced with a microwave system and donated internet bandwidth from a club member (This was the single biggest expense to running the system).
  • The system power supplies were replaced with more efficient switchmode ones

These changes yielded an operating cost reduction of around $1000/year.

The next areas being tackled include:

  • likely closure of the 1299.7MHz 128kbit/s data port (which records show hasn’t been accessed since being commissioned)
  • review whether the 1273.7MHz port remains on air considering it’s very low utilization.
  • replace the current PC with one that consumes a LOT less power

These changes will occur over the next 6 months, and will go someway to overcoming the operational costs of the site. None the less, it will still remain the most expensive to run site on AREG’s books.