OUARC Repeater Update

Your host is not only the Technical Committee Chair for SCARS but also a member in good standing (and past treasurer) of the OUARC so he ends up working on the OU repeaters, too (D-STAR on 444.7500 MHz, DMR on 443.8250 MHz, and good old FM on 146.8800 MHz).

Several weeks ago, the DMR system fell off the network. The RF side was still up and usable on the local talkgroups; only the remote talkgroups were unusable.  N5HZR and your host visited the site and were able to get the repeater connected back to the network.  

The next week, same thing.  Appeared, over the network, to be the same problem so your host visited the site but determined that the repeater was unrecoverable.  What your host didn't realize, possibly because the lightning was closer than absolutely necessary, was that the .88 FM repeater was also dead.  

Another visit was organized and it was determined that the power supply for the .88 repeater had taken a hit.  We removed the power supply as well as the DMR repeater as both would need to be repaired.  We're not 100% certain, but we are assuming that Thor played havoc with the equipment.

Forward to today and N5HZR, AG5DV, and your host returned to the site with a new DMR repeater (the other is being repaired and will be used elsewhere) which was placed in service.  We have some other clean-up work to do there so we'll be back soon.  Hopefully, we'll have the repaired power supply for the .88 repeater by then and we'll get that back on the air as well.


Nearly Thanksgiving Update

This update was delayed in the hope that the Stadium Remote would be back in operation, but that has yet to happen.  There are, however, other developments, most of which are probably generally known by now through other channels (RF channels, maybe, even).

Members of the Technical Committee mounted several expeditions to the County Yard in September and October.  Over the course of the visits, the following tasks were accomplished:
  • Replaced the Arcom RC-210 repeater controller;
  • Wall-mounted and connected the Telewave multi-coupler ("cavities") for the NORMAN APRS digipeater;  
  • Wall-mounted the existing Wacom duplexer; 
  • Installed the new radio for the digipeater and a new cabinet shelf to hold it and the TNC;
  • Relocated cabinet to allow more county equipment to be installed.

Cabinet with digipeater, repeater controller, repeater and power supply.
Above cabinet is multi-coupler (toward the rear) and duplexer (toward the front).  

Three things were driving these recent efforts.  Back a few years ago, the county needed to use one of the "retired in place" antennas that SCARS was using for the digipeater.  The expectation was that the county would only be using that antenna for a short period but that ended up not being the case.  No matter.  In the meantime, the RF portion of the digipeater was replaced with a new transceiver and, as noted, a shelf for it was built in the existing cabinet.  More importantly, the system was re-engineered to use a multi-coupler between the club's main two meter antenna and the duplexer for the repeater.  This allows both the digipeater and the repeater to use the same antenna at the same time without interference.

The needs of our hosts, Cleveland County, were the second driver.  The sheriff's office is in the process of installing new radio equipment at the county yard and SCARS needed to "reduce the footprint" occupied by club equipment.  With the wall mounting of the duplexer and new multi-coupler and inclusion of the digipeater in the cabinet that houses the repeater, this has been accomplished.

Lastly, the repeater controller needed to be returned to service.  The RC-210 controller was checked while it was out of service (See entry from July 10).  Unfortunately, no trouble could be found on the test bench.  When being re-installed, it was noted that the serial port interface was not behaving correctly as the configuration could neither be updated nor retrieved from the unit.  Reloading the firmware seemed to correct this issue.

Since the ATA that connects the controller to the PSTN was found to be dead and the WISP that has equipment at the same location had also needed to replace some equipment around the same time that the repeater controller failed, the general consensus of the Technical Committee was that lightning got into the building at some point this past summer.  If this is indeed what happened, it is entirely possible that the programming of the controller became corrupted without the controller itself being physically damaged.  Members of the TC will be monitoring the controller's operation in order to determine if there are any other anomalies.


147.060 back - as of 7/11

The 06 repeater is back in service.  The RC210 controller failed in an unsafe way (with PTT asserted).  The Kenwood repeater has its own time-out timer, so it shut off the transmitter when that timer expired.

While your SCARS Technical Committee considers the next steps (diagnosis, repair/replace) the repeater remains in service.  Because the repeater is running "stand-alone", the only noise it will make is the CWID at the appropriate interval.