In town receive off the hook

Looks like the receiver at the main site for the Stadium Remote has gone deaf. We can hear the link signal, but it's not getting through the repeater.

Unfortunately, the main receiver seems to have reduced sensitivity as well. Given work schedules, it may not be possible to get out to the site until 11/18.

Watch this space for updates!


August update

The purchase of a cabinet was approved at the August meeting. The Technical Committee expects to have that on-hand in the next two weeks or so (the manufacturer is right here in Wynnewood - buy local!).

Programming of the controller is under way. The guts of the system are much more capable than the older RC-85 controller in the current system. Not that there is anything wrong with the current controller, just that it's design is some 15-20 years old.

Arcom, the new unit's vendor, is active in providing on-line support as well; the ham that runs the company is always answering technical questions in the support forum. He also solicits and accepts ideas for new features for future updates - yes, this controller can be "flashed" with new microcode!

Jeff KT5OK, Treasurer and SKYWARN coordinator, worked with Tech Comm members after the August meeting and we will be converting that conversation into programming macros for the new system shortly.

In addition to a sampled digital voice, similar to the old RC-85, the new controller has room for a number of recorded voice tracks. As a result, you may start hearing familiar voices making announcements on W5NOR/R.

Another addition is a scheduler that will automagically set the repeater for regular net operations and announcements.

Peter N5UWY
For the Technical Committee


Main receiver again and cabinet update

Didn't find a cabinet at Ham Holiday, but did get a couple of leads. Following up on those now.

The Main receiver (the "+ input") is flaky again. Jeff KT5OK had to remotely shut off that receiver today as it caused the transmitter to lock on. Please use the Stadium Remote ("- input") in the meantime.



Cabinet update

Bill, KD5DOB, suggested we wait on purchasing the cabinet until after Ham Holiday in the hope that a suitable one can be found there. If one cannot, we will make a motion at the August meeting to purchase the cabinet from the folks in Wynnewood.


Main receiver down

The main receiver on the VHF system is in an intermittent state, due either to lightning or to the 18 feet of rain we've had. Ken B has been out to look at what can be done and as of about 0830 local on Saturday, the main receiver (the "+ input") was functioning normally. The Stadium Remote (the "- input") has functioned correctly all along.

As a reminder, your HT, mobile, or home station should have the following channels programmed into memory slots:

  • 147.0600 +600 kHz offset, transmit tone 141.3 Hz
  • 147.0600 -600 kHz offset, transmit tone 141.3 Hz
  • 147.0600 simplex, transmit tone 141.3 Hz
Following this pattern allows switching between repeater receivers with a minimum of hassles.

The repeater also transmits the 141.3 Hz tone, but whether you include that in your configuration is up to you.

If you can set channels to be "skipped" or "locked out" on scan, you should consider doing that for the 2nd and 3rd channels above as they all carry the same audio.

Why the simplex version? Should the repeater go down completely, you will be able to talk to folks on the repeater's output frequency. This will alert others to the fact that the system is down since they may be able to hear you.


About that cabinet ...

Ken B has a cabinet suitable for temporarily housing the new repeater.

In the meantime, we have been actively seeking a new weather-resistant cabinet and believe we have found a suitable candidate. Please see http://www.ddbunlimited.com/indoor-nema-enclosures.htm. The one that meets the club's needs is the model ST-30D. One neat feature: these cabinets are built right here in Wynnewood, Oklahoma!

Many members have suggested that we should be able to find a surplus cabinet. Thus far, however, the members of the Tech Committee have not been successful scroungers. So, a challenge. If any member can find a suitable enclosure (19" rack, minimum inside depth of 18", maximum inside depth of 24", front and back doors, prefer one with filtered vents) and can deliver it to N5KUK, then the club will take it with thanks!

If, however, no one is able to come up with one by the next meeting (July 14), then we will work towards purchasing a cabinet from the above supplier.


443.7000 Repeater back in service

Thanks to Ken B, the 443.7000 system is back in service at the regular site!


Lightning damage

This is part of the power supply for the 440 system. See the label that says 8 AMP? See what appears to be a black spot just beneath it? That's where the magic smoke escaped when lightning struck the tower back on 5/8. Click on the image for a better view.

This is the back cover of the 440 system. See that black spot? That's where the magic smoke forcefully contacted the cover. There is a terminal strip that shorted and Ken B will try to remember to bring it to the next meeting.


443.7 back! Mostly.

Thanks to quick work by Tech Comm member Ken, N5KUK, the 443.7000 system is back up ... at a different location temporarily. We hope to get it back to its rightful spot sometime this week.


443.7 repeater down

5/8: As of about 08:00 this morning, the UHF system was down. 147.06 and the NORMAN digipeater (144.3900 MHz) seemed to be OK. A site visit will be made, weather permitting.

Update 5/9: KC5OU made a site visit yesterday. He was able to reset the power on the NORMAN digipeater, but the power supply for the 443.7000 UHF system is, apparently, dead. Further updates soon.

Update 5/18: The 440 machine has been transported to N5KUK for diagnosis and repair (and cleaning!). If repair time is to be "extended", we may be able to turn up an interim system. Stay tuned!

Update 5/19: Looks like we may be back on the air sooner than later as damage was less than feared! Again, stay tuned!


Band plans

I've added a few links, over there on the right margin, to the band plans for the 2m and 70cm amateur bands. The band plans are "gentlemen's agreements" amongst us all that divide the band in to different areas for different uses.

The band plans also incorporate FCC regulations, namely our frequency allocations.

Do they have the force of law? In some cases directly, yes. For example you may not, as a matter of FCC rule, operate anything but CW between 144.000 and 144.100.

In other cases, indirectly, yes. The FCC has said that it is good amateur practice to follow the various band plans and since §97.101(a) of the amateur service rules says "In all respects not specifically covered by FCC Rules each amateur station must be operated in accordance with good engineering and good amateur practice.", then it follows that band plans have the force of law!

For an excellent discussion of band plans, please see this discussion from the Utah VHF Society.


Almost all here

We're still searching for a permanent cabinet. This reporter was up at Total Radio (a Motorola Service Station) in OKC last week to have an NMO mount installed in a vehicle and noted a number of surplus cabinets in their shop. The tech committee may send an expedition there to see if they'd be willing to part with any of them and whether or not any are suitable for our use.

The repeater itself, the controller and Arcom accessories, power supply, and most of the smaller components have arrived so assembly should start soon.

Again, it will still be a while until the equipment is assembled, tested, programmed, installed and tuned, so don't expect to hear the new machine this weekend!


And ... we're back!

Ken KC5OU and I went out to the repeater site. We found that three fuses had given their lives in service to the club. The VHF, UHF, and NØELS digipeater are all now back in service!

Your reporter thanks Ken for his "tour of the cables"!

Repeater outage

As you are likely aware, the W5NOR repeaters, as well as the Norman Digipeater, ceased to function Friday, March 30, at about 1915 local time. Fortunately, this was after the severe weather net had gone into standby mode!

Since all three transmitters are off the air, we believe that this is power-related. Once we have secured site access, we will visit the site and make a further diagnosis and repairs as necessary.

In the meantime, Ken N5KUK has set up a temporary repeater using the Stadium Remote and some parts of his own at N5KUK. This repeater uses the -0.600 MHz input (146.4600 MHz) and outputs on the usual 147.0600 MHz. Please note that service on this repeater may be interrupted as we work to test and repair the main repeater.

Note: the temporary system is in Carrier Squelch ("CSQ") mode meaning that no tone is needed to access the repeater but more importantly, no tone is transmitted! Therefore, if your transceiver is set to listen for the usual 141.3 Hz tone on receive, you will not hear the temporary system.

Your Technical Committee will provide updates as they become available.

Thanks for your patience!

Update 4/2: The temporary system is down in anticipation of the regular system coming up. N5UWY and KC5OU will be making a site visit over the lunch hour and will hopefully have some good news shortly thereafter. Hopefully.


Update, 3/24

We're making progress. All the major parts of the replacement repeater have been ordered. Updates as they occur!


Arcom RC-210

Ken N5KUK liked the looks of the Arcom RC-210 repeater controller that we've spec'd out for the VHF System Replacement so much that he bought one for his own repeater. His unit has arrived and, so far, we're impressed with the workmanship. He bought the rack-mount case and one audio delay board. We'll be buying the same, plus another delay board and the autopatch board. Ken has also played some with the programming software and he hopes to have the "profile" constructed in software by the time we receive our hardware.

We hope to order the club's controller this week.

N5UWY for the Tech Comm


Stadium Remote mystery solved?

We think we know why the Stadium Remote has occasional problems!

First, a little background. Up in the Press Box area on the west side of OU Memorial Stadium, SCARS has a 146.46 MHz receiver. This is the "minus side" for our VHF system. That receiver is connected via a controller to a transmitter that sends the signal back to the main site east of town.

This system had been tended by a fellow ham whose call escapes me at the moment, but who works for a Major Cellular Carrier and had access to the site. Unfortunately, he now works in a different part of his company and is no longer available to help us.

At the last meeting, another ham, who works for that same carrier and who has been to the site, explained to us what may be happening. Seems that when any electrical work is done on the stadium, power is turned off to the entire stadium. This would include the Press Box. Since we don't have any kind of backup power, the Stadium Remote goes away. When the power returns, so does the Stadium Remote.

We're not 100% certain that this is the case, but the information presented certainly fits the behavior we've been seeing!

Once we get the main VHF repeater replaced, the Tech Comm will be working on access to the site and will explore a fix for the situation.


N5UWY for the Tech Comm

Expectations ...

We're getting close to actually ordering equipment, maybe even as early as this week. Ken and I were discussing what all needs to be done and it occurred to us that we'd better give you folks an idea of how long this will take.

Ken's example was this: If we got ALL the equipment tomorrow, it would still likely be 60 days until the new station is on the air.

Both major pieces will need to be set up, the Kenwood repeater itself (comes with programming software) and the Arcom controller (also comes with programming software).

Then we have accessories to get ready. There's the phone patch, the receiver for the Stadium Remote, the new control receiver. Once we get all those various pieces working together, and making RF (into a dummy load), we'll probably want to let it burn in for a few days as a unit, just to shake out what we call in IT "infant mortality" - new parts that die right away.

Once we're happy with that, then we'll need to move it to the site and start the real work. The biggest item that will need "tuning" is the audio levels - everything, the main receiver, the autopatch, and the Stadium Remote, all have to have levels that match.

It will get done ... just give us the time to do it right!

Thanks & 73,

N5UWY for the Tech Comm

Welcome to the Technical Committee's repeater blog

I'll post a PDF of the Tech Comm's repeater report here in a few days. The committee realized that there will be a lot going on over the next 60-90 days in regards to the repeater and that we needed to keep SCARS members up to date. So, a blog.

We have decided on the equipment, as we discussed briefly at the last meeting.

The main RF section will be a Kenwood TKR-750. This is a commercial Land Mobile repeater that covers the 2 meter ham band. Commercial repeaters basically have a CWID and not a lot else in terms of features. Fortunately, there is a plug on the back ...

To that plug, we'll be connecting an Arcom RC-210 repeater controller. We're ordering a number of accessories as well, including the automatic telephone patch board. The controller is what will give us the ability to have an autopatch, announcements, etc.

Some Hamtronics UHF receivers (for the Stadium Remote and the new control receiver) will round out the major purchases.

Oh, and of course, a weather-proof cabinet to house it all!

More later.

de N5UWY