Category Archives: Repeater

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.

New Repeater Getting Ready

Thanks to Mike W2HYP and Fred WO2P, the new repeater is close to being ready for installation.  Mike donated this Motorola cabinet, and Fred made some modifications to allow our repeater to fit.

The cabinet is nice because it is fully enclosed, but it is very shallow.  The repeater depth was quite a bit deeper, so Fred reversed the orientation of the brackets to give us an additional inch and a half, then cut an opening in the rear cover of the cabinet to allow the repeater to protrude out the back.  Since the repeater is fully enclosed, it should be fine.

He also fabricated a shelf for the repeater, as Yaesu recommends a shelf to help support the weight.  Additionally, he made plates with threaded holes to captures the bolts to hold the repeater.  So it looks like a solid installation that should last for years and handle future expansion if required.

90% of the ventilation holes in the repeater chassis are outside of the cabinet, so cooling shouldn’t be an issue.

XRX Repeater Cabibet 3 XRX Repeater Cabinet 1 XRX Repeater Cabinet 2

Repeater Back on the Air

Despite some rain and wind, Mike Rink W2HYP, Jim Stefano W2COP, and I managed to get our antenna mounted about 45 ft up the tower, and get the repeater on the air.

There is still an issue with the radio.  Seems squelch related, but while there, we could not find any simple answer.  It was working OK with some occasional issues that were minor compared to what it sounded like 6 weeks ago.
Even though the antenna will be going up another 120ft or so, I hear it fine from my shack with a collinear dual band up about 20 ft close to Lake Ontario.  It was fairly noisy mobile with a 1/4 wave north of 104.
Unless we get some unusually decent weather that falls on a weekend where Tim is free, we may wait until spring to raise the antenna.
I’ve gotten info that the Yaesu repeaters are taking 3-6 weeks to ship out.  So we may get it by the end of January.  They have shipped over 600 so far.  Very few have been turned down, usually due to incomplete paperwork.
Linking up to other systems (WiresX/Echolink. etc) will be in the not-to-distant future.
Thanks to Mike Rink and Jim Stefano for helping getting the antenna up and on the air today.  Thanks to Fred Miller WO2P for doing some metal work with the antenna mounts.
Also thanks to Tim Warth AA2RS for his work on the tower last week, and all the XARC guys mentioned previously who have helped with moving and antenna work.
Below is a photo of the hill where the repeater is located.  This is from Route 15A just south of Lima and before Hemlock.  There are two towers up there, and the bigger tower can be seen from here – it is 200ft and has a flashing light on top.
IMG_0831a

System Fusion Info

As you might have heard, we have made a decision to buy as Yaesu DR1X repeater than operates supports the Yaesu digital mode called, System Fusion.

Obviously many things have to happen before we’ll see that on the air, but in the mean-time, here are some links (some of this is obviously Yaesu marketing driven):

 

Antenna Work Party

We attempted a work party at the new repeater site, but the weather didn’t cooperate.  Foggy up on that hill, colder too.  We did manage to get some things done, and we have a plan to do some more work after Christmas.  Here are a couple photos –

Repeater antenna Work Party
Repeater antenna Work Party

L to R – AA2RS, W2COP, AE2EA, K2AS, K2RAH, W3MUD.  W2HYP photographer

 

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L to R – W2COP, AA2RS, W2HYP, K2AS, K2RAH, AE2EA   photographer W3MUD

End of an Era

Over the years, the XARC has been known for several things: Foxhunts, Field Day, our club station, and our repeater, among others.  The repeater, actually three repeaters , were located in the premier location in the city of Rochester.  The Xerox Tower, the tallest building in the city.  There were other commercial repeaters located there, but the XARC repeaters were the only amateur radio repeaters at that site.

It started in 1981, with help from member Dan Thomas KJ2E, when we got approval to locate a repeater in the building.  We partnered with Paul DiLorenzo, WB2IMT to place a 220 Mhz repeater at the site.  Sometime in the mid-80’s, a 440 Mhz repeater was added.  Pete Secrist, WB2SUN was our repeater trustee at that time.

In the late 80’s, a fairly recent ham, John Wright, KE2MK who had interest in building controllers, proposed adding a 2 meter repeater to the mix.  It was at first located in Webster, NY at the Xerox facility there, but was eventually moved downtown.

A new controller in the mid-90’s allowed the three to be linked together, and the two meter machine had excellent coverage and experienced heavy usage for many years.

By 2010, corporate support for employee clubs disappeared at Xerox.  We lost our club station, the club languished a bit, and repeater usage dwindled.  In 2013, the Xerox Tower was sold to a real estate company.  Xerox still leased most of the facility, but the roof of the building was no longer controlled by Xerox.  We received word in early 2014 that the locations of our repeater antennas were income generating space, and that they would be available only with a lease agreement.  Since the monthly cost would be higher than our yearly budget, there was no way we could afford to stay.  We would be allowed to stay rent free until upgrades were in place at the site and a paying customer was located.

Also in mid-2014, there was renewed interest in re-activating the club.  We investigated alternate repeater locations, and found something south of the city.  While plans were being worked out, a mysterious signal started to interfere with the 2 meter repeater, intermittently.  The 220 and 440 machines were shut off.  With an eviction notice not far off, we decided it wasn’t worth a huge effort to investigate the source of the interference.  Then it began to get worse.  We had some delays to getting an antenna installed at the new site, so some decisions had to be made.

With the ongoing interference issue getting worse, the repeater essentially unusable most days, we either had to shut it off, or move it.  So we are planning to remove it from the Xerox Tower in the near future, and hopefully get the 2 meter installed and running at the new location.  It may not have a permanent antenna at first, but something at least usable.

When complete, we hope to have something at an excellent elevation, though at 25+ miles south of the city.  HT coverage will likely suffer in the city and north, but we hope mobile and base access will be very good throughout the Rochester area, with increased coverage south.

With any luck we will continue to have use of the 145.29 repeater for many years to come.