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.

Adelaide Rally using VK5RSA / VK5RSB Repeaters

WICEN has approached AREG to help with their communications nets during the Adelaide Rally this year on the 7th,8th and 9th of December. For the most part, WICEN will use the VK5RHO Ansteys 2-meter repeater (146.850) but for 2 other stages they are requesting to use the VK5RSA 70cm repeater (438.025). AREG is very supportive of this type of use of the club repeater assets and so naturally has agreed.

The times and stages are:

  • Thursday – Old Norton Summit (approx 2:30pm till 5:30pm)
  • Saturday – Norton Summit (approx 12:30am till 5:00pm)

WICEN may also require access to Summertown VK5RSB (439.900) as a possible backup for a Saturday afternoon stage.

WICEN’s role is backup communications and radio traffic should be minimal.

Amateurs who hear the rally traffic on these repeaters are asked to give WICEN priority access during the event. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated!

AREG News: September Meeting – Power Supplies

AREG’s next meeting is this coming Friday the 15th September at the Reedbeds Community Hall, Phelps Court Fulham, doors opening at 7:45 pm.

This coming meeting will be another in AREG’s Amateur Radio Beginners Series and the topic for this evening will be, Power Supplies.

Matthew, VK5ZM, will take people through the basics of power supplies, what their characteristics are and what do people need to look out for when selecting a power supply for Amateur Radio use. He will also discuss the pros and cons of Linear vs Switchmode and what makes a good or bad power supply.

AREG Repeater News:

We have noticed that VK5RSB 70cm appears to be dropping coverage. Our fault investigation team will take a look at our earliest opportunity but we suspect a problem with the antenna feeder or connectors. Also the VK5RWN D-STAR repeater is suffering from reduced performance due to mechanical issues with the antenna mounts. Plans are well underway to make repairs at both sites, which we hope will be completed in October.

Contesting news:

AREG is again making plans to mount a portable DX Contest Station for the Oceania DX Contest in October. This will be a QRO Multi-Multi station this year operating from a new site north of Adelaide. We hope to see other VK5’s get involved in this contest this year too, as it is your one opportunity to have the DX stations around the world pointing their antennas our way looking for us! The OCDX SSB contest is being held on the weekend of October 7th and 8th.

In DX News:

AREG wishes Grant VK5GR good luck in his activation of Niue starting next week. Grant should be heard across VK signing as E6AG, Echo 6 Alpha Golf, from September 14th through until September 25th on most HF bands. So keep a lookout for Grant and Grant, goodluck with your operations.

2017/18 Subscriptions now Due

Finally, all AREG members should note that their subscriptions are due for 2017/18. It is a great time to be a member of AREG and this year will be big, with the club turning 20 years old next July – who would have thought! Look out for some special activities throughout 2018 marking the occasion.

So remember folks, come along to AREG’s next meeting, it is this coming Friday evening, everyone is most welcome.

After the formal events, a light supper of tea, coffee and cake will be available whilst you can mingle, review and discuss the topics of the day.

 

VK5RWN DSTAR Repeater Damaged – Repairs Pending

In the wild weather over the past few weeks the VK5RWN repeater system has sustained some structural damage.  The original tower section is currently bent at a rather alarming angle and will require replacement.

In the past few days we have had our repair crew up there to shore up the tower section and make temporary repairs until a more permanent solution can be found.

There is still internet connectivity to the site and the D-Star repeater is still operational for the time being.   Users may find that the coverage of the repeater is somewhat disturbed however.

In the coming weeks the antenna system will need to be upgraded, so there will most likely be a prolonged period where the system will be off air while repairs are being made.

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.