Category Archives: Repeater

Fusion Net Mar. 28 8PM

I have schedule another Fusion net on the W2XRX repeater – here is the info:

Fusion Net

Tuesday Mar 28 at 8PM, there will be a Fusion net on the 145.29 W2XRX repeater (Canadice, NY).  The mode will be digital narrow DN.  It will be on Wires-X room #21704.  The purpose will be to discuss Fusion news, equipment, Wires-X, tips, etc.  Check-ins are encouraged from all CNY/WNY Fusion stations.  Initially we would follow-on with a net every 4th Tuesday of the month.  More frequent nets could be added if enough interest.

145.29 Coverage Profile

Seeing the predicted coverage of the 440 repeater, I decided to try our 2 meter machine.   A few variables I took the default, but this looks pretty close based on my living at the fringe area.  It might be slightly better than shown here, but this is not bad.  Definitely can see the problems going east and south, with higher ground in both directions.

Predicted 145.29 Mobile Coverage
Predicted 145.29 Mobile Coverage

Repeater and Wires-X Updates

There was a kind of semi-bungled release of the long-awaited software updates from Yaesu this past week (long story).  This includes updated Wires-X node software, and new software for the DR1-X repeaters to allow connection to a Wires-X device.

Since we have no internet connection at the repeater site, the first option is more interesting to us.  I have a Wires-X device, a PC, and a FTM-400DR at my home QTH, that up until now, has only had limited functionality in analog FM.  With this new software release, I can now use my node to point to our W2XRX repeater and have full digital capabilities.  It can also work in analog FM, but setting the mode on a Wires-X node is not automatic, and has reduced functionality.  So I will likely concentrate on digital.
I’m starting to see what Yaesu has been trying to do.  Frankly, now that I see it, they probably would have been better off just forgetting about making it analog compatible so they could have more resources getting Fusion perfected.  But it is finally getting there.  I have a FT1XD handheld on order, and I’m selling my old HT.
Here are a couple of videos that might help with an understanding of Wires-X.  They aren’t great, but are a start.  For those of you who have asked “why would I want a Fusion radio?”, these help show some of their capabilities.
A couple of points – you don’t need to have your own Wires-X node to use one.  Best case scenario is that the Fusion repeaters in the area would be connected (directly or via a node like mine).  You can then connect as shown in these two videos (with an HT or mobile).
The PC screen in the first video is the PC running the node software that controls the node.  It provides connection to the internet and controls the node radio.
There will hopefully be more updates in the coming weeks.  Maybe some more videos – if I find anything interesting I will pass along.

— Brian

Repeater Upgrades

I went down/up to the repeater site today, and made the following changes:

  • Added a RF Concepts RFC-2-317 amplifier to the transmitter
  • Added an Advanced Receiver Research P144VDG Receiver Preamp
  • Added a Wacom Bandpass filter in the receive path
  • Added a Wacom Bandpass filter to the transmit path
  • Added a 12 VDC power supply for the amps
The bandpass filters were previously installed at the Xerox Tower site.
Mike Ishler KE2LU donated the RF Concepts amplifier.  Thanks Mike!
I had no serious test equipment, but everything seemed to be working.
The repeater is set to 20 watts, and according to my MFJ VHF Wattmeter/SWR meter, the amplifier is putting out around 80 watts.  The amp is not designed for repeater duty, but we are only running it about half rated power.  It has temperature protection, but I want to get a fan on it.
Initial reports are good.  I’ve had a few QSOs, including one with Harry W2HRY, just using an HT in my shack at home, about 39 miles from the repeater.  On my 2 meter mobile in my shack, it went from 1/2 scale on the s-meter to one notch from full scale.
Mike W2HYP had no trouble using an HT from the U of R just after I made the changes.
The addition of the preamp changed the squelch action, so I did my best picking the right level.  The squelch has always been questionable, so additional tweaking may be necessary, including an internal “threshold” adjustment.
If you get a chance, see how it is working for you, especially if you had some problem areas where it was marginal.  If things seem to be good, Fred Miller WO2P has agreed to help package things up in the repeater cabinet.

— Brian

Repeater Notes

On Saturday, I went down and adjusted the squelch on the repeater. Not a pot, but a digital control on the screen.  Simple description:  it was set to “2”, I changed to “1”.  “0” would be off.

I am now able to key up the repeater and hear it with an 2.5 watt HT and a rubber duck.  I am 39.2 miles away and close to Lake Ontario. I couldn’t raise anyone yesterday, so today I went out at lunch time, and in the parking lot of building 207, still about 35 miles away,  I got into the repeater and talked with Steve KA1CNF with my HT.  My meter was a little under 1/2 scale.  Steve said I was a little noisy but copy-able.   I went to my mobile and we spoke both on analog and digital, and Steve sent a photo as he was driving into the city.  He was on digital when he went down into the Browncroft Blvd valley, and the audio did garble for about 5 seconds.

Then on the way home I talked with Tom KC2TCK, and we switched to digital and we both had solid copy all the way home on DN mode.  I can do the same with analog, but with a bit of noise.

I also spoke with Dave, KC2DQS, briefly, but we stayed on analog for some reason.

Repeater Antenna Installed at Full Height

With cooperation from the weather man we were able to get the antenna up to about 165 ft today.   That would put it at about 1925 feet above seal level.   Initial indications are that there is a definite improvement, most places.  A few weeks of observation and use should tell us more.

Thanks to Tim Warth AA2RS, Mike Rink W2HYP, Dave Carlson KA2OQZ, and Mark Erdle AE2EA for all the help and hard work.

IMGP1712

Here are some more photos:

Repeater Antenna Work Party May 9, 2015

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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.