Another 06 update

A representative of the Technical Committee visited the main repeater site on Friday, 11/11.  The repeater controller was re-initialized using special software from the vendor then had the firmware and our configuration reloaded.  As of this writing, all seems well.

The recorded announcements were not reloaded due to a "connector failure" (as in the TechComm rep did not have the correct adapter!) so those will be added back at a later date.

The TechComm is still very interested in user reports especially if the repeater is heard to reset itself.  When the controller resets, it announces that it is an RC-210, reads its firmware version, then tells the world that it is "ready". 

Again, the committee wishes to thank the membership for its patience!


Repeater Status Update - November 6

Your SCARS Technical Committee has not been having fun over these past few weeks.  About the end of September, the crunch monster returned to the VHF repeater.  Since then, things have become less-fun. 

There are two things going on; RF issues and controller issues. 


Signals are appearing in the repeater that are unwanted.  Sometimes, these signals are retransmitted by the repeater because they act like signals that we would want repeated.  There are at least two different (at least, they seem to be different) scenarios. 

The first scenario is a mixing product getting in to the UHF link that brings the signal from the stadium receiver to the main site.  This happens when two or more transmitters' signals heterodyne together to create signals at other frequencies.  It's how a superheterodyne receiver functions!

In our case, one of the transmissions was easy to ID: it's the club's UHF repeater!  You can, at times, clearly hear either the voice ID from the CAT200 controller or the voices of club members chatting (Hi Gordon!  Hi Michael!  Hi Allan!). 

What's harder to hear -- and ID -- is the second signal.  It's there, but so far no one has been able to identify it.  It's definitely not another amateur signal and so far it has not sounded (to this 30-year scanner listener) like a public safety signal.  Perhaps a local government agency or a commercial repeater?

No idea what (fundamental) frequency it is on since we have yet to ID it, but one of the mixing products is entering the VHF repeater via the UHF link receiver and being repeated.  You can tell that's how it's getting in because the stadium link courtesy tone is sent at the end just as if a station was transmitting into the remote receiver at the stadium and being relayed through that same receiver. 

The other scenario appears to be the repeater "hearing itself".  This is more along the lines of the traditional "crunch monster" that has plagued our repeater for years (long before the recent technology refresh).  The noise usually appears while, or just after, the repeater is in use.  It sounds a little like what happens when you you key up an HT while in audio range of another HT and the audio bounces around between the two.  The difference in this case is that the transmitter and receiver make up the repeater and not a pair of HTs.  This scenario is why the hang time was dropped to zero seconds (see below).  And that actually seems to have helped a little.

One thing argues against this strictly being the repeater "hearing itself": sometimes it happens when the repeater is otherwise quiet and hasn't so much as IDed itself in some time.  We may find that the two scenarios have the same root cause. 

Root causes for either of these scenarios have yet to be definitively determined nor has a course of action been decided. 


In order to try to make the repeater less annoying, the hang time of the repeater was set to zero by entering a control code on the controller.  Macros were created to set and unset this, but those macros do not function (and the vendor is stumped as to why).  Instead, the hang time was set to zero seconds manually. 

The hang time is the period of time from the squelch closing on the repeater's receiver (because the user unkeyed) and the repeater's transmitter dropping.  Ordinarily, this is set to about 3 or 5 seconds.  With it set to zero you hear that double chunk at the end of a transmission instead of a proper courtesy tone (no idea why there is a double chunk, but there it is).  This change has seemed to help, at least a little, with the "crunch monster" noise. 

As members have heard, somehow the macro that announces the upcoming meeting  when it's at City Hall has decided to run.  It's not being run by the Set Point, a scheduler feature that runs the macro at the top of each hour the week before a meeting, because those have all been cleared.  Possibly, it is running as a "tail message".  The tail message was never intentionally set to do this, but there it is. 

At the time of this writing (Sunday afternoon), both the tail counter (where the number of "overs" that happen before the announcement is set) and the tail timer (where the announcement runs so many minutes after the last transmission is set), have been "zeroed out".  Hopefully, this "fixes" that issue. 

So ....

We're still in the evaluation stage.  Likely, there will be a site visit in the coming week.  If the most recent changes did not effect the controller issues, we will probably replace the controller in order to bench-test it and, possibly, return it to the vendor for evaluation.  The committee is also identifying the testing equipment that it has as its disposal, which turns out to be substantial.  Before embarking on a visit to the site, a test plan will be in place.  What is done after that depends on what is discovered!

The Technical Committee wishes to again thank members for their patience!


Noise on 06

Boy, if it's not one thing, it's another.  Sometime on 2011-09-26, we started getting noise on the 06 repeater.  Sometimes, the noise is near the tail end of a user's transmission, sometimes it appears on its own.  Occasionally, the UHF repeater voice ID can clearly be heard, other times not. 

Whether this is the old "Crunch Monster" that used to appear on the system years ago and not heard in a good two years, is unknown. 

The good thing is that, whatever it is, stations can transmit over it and be heard. 

Your SCARS Technical Committee is aware of the issue and is in evaluation mode. 


06 power update (UPDATED 9/22)

06 (and the UHF repeater and the Norman digi) are back on the air.

There was a fault in the underground power feed to the county radio hut.  The power provider has connected a generator to keep the radio equipment and tower safety lighting on.

Please note that repairs are not yet complete with no time-line known to this reporter.

It is expected that repeater service will be interrupted at least once and perhaps multiple times when commercial power is restored.

Your patience is appreciated.

UPDATE 2011-09-22: OEC has completed its work as has AT&T.  We now expect another 5+ years of uninterrupted service.  Many thanks to John G of the Cleveland Co Sheriff's Office for allowing us access to the site and coordinating repairs. 


147.0600 off the air

Looks like the power supply may have "crowbarred."  We are unable to access the site until Thursday afternoon, so in the meantime, please avail yourselves of SCARS' 443.7000+ (141.3) repeater or N5MS' OU repeater at 146.8800- (CSQ).



It's done

We'll need to make some tweaks, of course.  Kyle already dialled back
the too-aggressive kerchunk filter and I'm sure there will be others.

Special thanks to Ken B, Ken E, Kyle K for doing the work, Phil S and
Bill L for the supervision, and our friends from the Cleveland County
Sheriff's Office, John G and Jon L (both hams).

Next up:  Tower work!


West receive site off the air

But only temporarily. The room that houses it is being renovated, so it has been moved to a temporary location. Once power is restored, it will again be active and we expect that to occur TODAY, May 6.

  • UPDATE:  We're back.  Shouldn't be any change in operation as no equipment was changed, just moved.


We now pause for Station Identification ...

... This is W5NOR ...

Whenever you hear the repeater transmit its callsign, in voice or code, take this as a hint that you should identify your own station. The timer is set for 9 minutes, so if you've been in a long QSO, you should have enough time to stay legal.

Also recall that the repeaters have blab-off timers. Should you talk too long without allowing the repeater to reset its timer, the transmitter will be shut off.

The repeater will signify that the timer is reset by sending the courtesy tone. If you "tailgate" and start talking between the time the other operator stops transmitting and before the courtesy tone sounds, the timer will not reset!

Programming your radio (repeat)

(This has been posted this before but it's worth repeating)

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 100.0 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 passes the 141.3 Hz tone, but whether you include that as a receive tone 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.

For UHF:
  • 443.7000 +5 MHz offset, transmit tone 141.3 Hz
  • 443.7000 simplex, transmit tone 141.3 Hz
Again, lockout, or skip, the simplex version so that you don't end up scanning what are, essentially, duplicate channels.