Weekend Propagation

I hope people got a chance to work some DX this weekend.  20 Meters was wide open all night Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  I actually heard more DX stations than US.  Several Australia and New Zealand stations were heard at S7-8 at my QTH.  Dozens of Russian calls were heard at 59+.  Hopefully these conditions will persist for the near future.

First Digital QSO

Not sure if anyone else has had a digital QSO yet on the repeater, but Steve KA1CNF, Tom KC2TCK, and myself had a digital QSO on the repeater earlier today.  Steve was going back and forth between his truck and his shack, and had some issues hearing the repeater from his truck, but he was loud and clear on my rig, as was Tom who was mobile on 590.  It was like they were sitting right next to me.

My first listen to digital, and I was impressed.

Maybe we can get a quick demo in Thursday night.

Yaesu System Fusion Repeater on the Air

4/4/2015

I went back down this afternoon and finished installing the System Fusion repeater.  Assuming I set everything up correctly, in order to use the repeater in FM mode, you’ll need  110.9Hz encode AND decode.  The reasoning behind this – if two people are having a QSO in digital mode, no PL tone is transmitted and FM users will not hear the digital signal.

It is set to Auto mode, which means if two users are both digital, the repeater will transmit digital.  If one user is analog FM, the repeater will transmit analog FM.
Digital users “should” be set to Auto in most cases.  This will allow FM users to co-exist.  We may set up some digital skeds (4 of us?) to test out the digital mode.
My initial observation is that the signal strength is close to what is was.  We may be a few watts less than before.  It is set to 20 watts.
I’ve had a few FM QSO’s so far, and seems good.
Some photos of the site access
IMG_0987 IMG_0988 IMG_0989 IMG_0990
Video – A short video of the path to the repeater.  You can see my tracks from the day before.  Much colder today, maybe 34 degrees versus 52 yesterday.  Snow is not quite as slushy.

4/3/2015

Well, the new repeater was almost up and running tonight.

Since I was thinking about going to the RARA meeting, which is about halfway to the repeater site from my house, I decided to leave a bit early and see if I could get the repeater installed without any help.  I brought a hand truck and some straps, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to drive my FWD vehicle in the wet muddy conditions, all the way to the tower.
Since most of the snow is gone around here, I figured there might be a little more up on that hill, but I was surprised how much was still up there (I should have listened to Rich).  The first 100 ft or so was plowed by someone previously to allow access to the first tower, but they piled snow in front of the road back to the other tower, and it was still about 3-4 ft high and 12 feet wide, completely blocking the way.  Behind it there was snow cover on the road as far as I could see.
I was worried about hauling the repeater through mud and standing water, so my initial thought was I had wasted my time driving down there.  But I thought about it for a couple minutes and saw a possible way around the initial barrier, so I thought I’d give it a try and if it was too difficult, I’d stop and give up.  So I pulled out my hand truck, lifted the repeater and cabinet out of my vehicle and strapped it to the hand truck.
The snow was wet and icy like a slushie, and varied from 10 inches to about 20 inches deep.  Underneath the snow was 4-6 inches of water.  As I had only sneakers on, it was clear my feet were going to get wet.  The hand truck has pneumatic tires, so it wasn’t too bad.  It took me maybe 10 minutes to go the 100 yards or so back to the repeater shack.
All in all, not too bad.  At least I’ll accomplish my goal.  So I shut off the old repeater and started hooking everything up to the new one.  That’s when I realized the jumper cables have PL-259s and the repeater has N- type connectors.  I knew I would forget something.  I bought a couple UHF – N adapters when I was testing it out at home, but totally forgot what was down there.
So I reinstalled the old repeater for now.  If I can, I’ll get back down this weekend and finish the job.  We should at least get a comparison to the old machine using the same antenna.
We’ll need more than a day or two of warm weather to get things melted down there before any more antenna work can be completed.