April 2, 2018, Alpine, Texas
Alpine has a new frequency to access the club’s repeater system. It is an odd configuration and is only in test mode at this time, but as we work out the details, we hope we can make it permanent.
The frequency is 446.150 SIMPLEX with 146.2 PL tone. Do note, as you try to program your radios for this frequency, most modern radios may try to use an offset transmit frequency for 446.150. You will likely have to force the SIMPLEX operation.
This is one of our Cross-Band repeater boxes that we have been using for some events in the Big Bend Ranch State Park and will probably use in Big Bend National Park. We have 3 of these boxes and each time we need them we have to borrow someones dual band radio, get it programmed and mounted inside the cross-band box, and after the event we extract the borrowed radio and return it to its owner and put the box back on the shelf. We can go into more detail on the box at another time, but in short, it is an empty equipment box with a removable top. it has power terminals on the outside, a coax connector on the back and an NMO mobile antenna mount on the top cover. Inside the box we mount a mounting bracket for a mobile radio. The power terminals, coax connector, and mobile antenna mount have pig-tails to complete the connections to the mobile radio.
Recently, an older model Kenwood model TM-V7A dual band radio was donated to the club so at least one of the 3 cross-band boxes could be equipped and ready to go at a few moments notice. That is nice, but as experience has taught us, as with the 145.23 emergency repeater, equipment that sits ìReady to Goî , inactive on a shelf for long periods of time, may not be quite as ready as we would like when we need it. That is part of the purpose of Field Day, to check equipment and see if it needs attention.
So it seemed a good idea to build this, one equipped cross-band box, and put it into service in Alpine so we could know that it is in working condition on a daily basis.
Today this unit was installed at the Alpine True Value store. In this ‘Phase One’ part of our test, a mag-mount dual-band mobile antenna has been mounted on top of a commercial down-draft water cooler on the True Value store roof and coax runs into the offices inside the store to the cross-band box.
Performance tests today were very promising. There is full quieting HT performance from inside the store, which is an all steel building, and also from inside the old Wool and Mohair building on Murphy street. This is good since the Wool and Mohair building is now a Morrison True Value property and its owner is Bob Ward, wa5roe, who is also our ARES Emergency Coordinator.
But aside from giving Bob HT monitoring capabilities from downtown Alpine, it also provides HT access to our repeaters for visitors to Alpine who might only be traveling with HT radios.
So phase one; is the idea of maintaining a ready to go cross-band, in service and monitored on a daily basis possible? The answer seems to be yes.
For now we don’t know how far the usable range extends, but a more efficient antenna may be considered later.
Phase 2 is a technical matter of operation format for a permanent station. Then phase 3 will be the consideration of higher gain antennas.
For now this project is considered under development and temporary for the time being. But we expect to work out the details to make it permanent in the future.
As we are an open repeater system, so the cross-band is open as well. While we know the range is very limited, ( good within a mile probably, but local building obstructions will have an effect,) we will be interested in signal reports. What we will be looking for is whether a station is a mobile or an HT station? What is the station location? If it is HT, is it from inside a building, is it from inside a car or bus or train, etc., is it using an OEM rubber duckie antenna, a high gain HT whip antenna, or an HT connected to an external mag-mount or other antenna. And since this station is just installed and the frequency not widely published, BBARC members will probably be the only users for some time. So for tose members who are in the Alpine valley, or those who travel in and out of Alpine regularly, please feel free to work this cross-band and note its performance.
IF AT LEAST ONE STATION IS ON THE CROSS-BAND, we would like a signal report.
Here is the info we are interested in on signal reports:
Were you on a local repeater or the cross-band?
Was the other station on a local repeater or the cross-band?
If a local repeater, which repeater and which station?
Precisely were was the cross-band being worked from, (location, outdoors or indoors?)
What was the location of the other station?
Was the signal full quieting, solid but noisy, did the audio drop out and how bad?
Common sense, where were you, where was the other station, who was on which frequency.
Collect your signal reports and you may give them on the Wednesday 2-meter net so everyone can share, and/or you can e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.