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.


147.060 off the air - 7/9

147.060 off the air

Shortly after the July SCARS meeting, the 147.06 repeater failed.  In its absence, please make use of the W5NOR UHF repeater on 443.7 (141.3 Hz tone) or the N5MS OU repeater on 146.88 (no tone).

Your Technical Committee Chair happened to be listening at the time.  The transmitter came on about 1220 or so and stayed on for several minutes.  Usually, when a mobile station "sits on their key", you can hear other stations trying to key up.  Their signal will often heterodyne with the station holding the repeater open; sometimes their signal is stronger and they capture the receiver.  No activity of this type was noted.  The repeater did not ID or make any other sounds or announcements (i.e., "Repeater Time Out").  Since the Technical Committee Chair happened to be on Alameda at the time, and on his way home, he stopped in front of the repeater site and attempted to execute some commands on the regular input as well as the discreet control channel to no effect.  In addition, and of interest, he tried to key the repeater from his mobile while listening on an HT.  From that location, his signal should have easily overridden any other signal.  No heterodyning or other evidence of the mobile signal was heard.

Some time later, the transmitter dropped and has not been heard from again.

Several weeks ago, it was noted that the repeater controller (a component separate from the repeater itself that handles ancillary functions) was no longer answering the telephone line when a connection was attempted.  A visit to the site has been planned since then but schedules haven't permitted it.

It is hoped that members of the Technical Committee Tactical Squad will be able to visit the repeater site on Monday, July 11th, to investigate.

NORMAN APRS digipeater

On a happier note, some updates to SCARS APRS node are upcoming.  As readers will recall, the county required the use of the antenna the club had been using (but did not own) for the APRS digipeater and the digi has been off the air for the most part since then.

Using a new transceiver, this node is back on the air from a temporary location (the location shown on the aprs.fi map may be inaccurate).  More importantly, the TC has ordered a multicoupler which will allow the digi to be connected to the same antenna as is being used by the W5NOR 147.060 repeater.  More information about APRS can be found at the links above as well as kcaprs.org.