BBARC is Testing a New Radio Repeater Installation in Alpine

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 billato@mztv.net.

Christmas Mountain Recon Trip

12 Aug 2017
Repair Trip – Site Went Down During Storm
W5ATO – N5HYD
  • D.C. SYSTEM:
    • Lightning damagr.
    • No LED indications on Sunsaver SS-20L-12V #08151515 Charge Controller. Unit later showed failure of open circuit during continuity test of points 3 to 1 to 5. These are the negative terminals points and should all show continuity to each other. Replaced with Sunsaver ss-20L012V #09499269?
    • 2 or 3 solar panels fried. Only had time to remove all but one working panel from system. 1.7 amps into 4.0 VDC
    • Batteries at 4.0 Vdc. Up to 4.5 or so after hooking up one panel.
  • LOCAL REPEATER:
    • Replace multiple adapters at Duplexer to antenna coax junction with a UHF-F to N-M.
  • SITE:
    • Posted license.
    • Left with batteries slowly charging and hoping the site may come on-line while we lick our wounds.

Repeater Maintenance / Repair at Elephant Mountain

13 May 2017
Repair trip
N5HYD

Short info:
1: A.C. to D.C. power issue found. Did a short-term repair.
2: 147.020 Local Repeater now back on-line, unless the noise returns.
3: I may have fixed the Weather Alert receiver. Also fixed an issue where I forgot to include the Presidio are alarms in the decode list.
Long info:
• HUB REPEATER:
o Hub Repeater had a strange ‘square wave’ sounding noise that started shortly after the system was in use, and slowly became more pronounced as it went.
Temporary swap to a spare Hub Repeater showed no change.
Problem immediately went away when I turned off the A.C. to D.C. switching power supply and bypassed the A.C. surge protection.
Decided to leave the Hub Repeater as-is.

• LOCAL REPEATER:
o Was in disable due to the TX interfering with the RX. I’m hoping it may be related to the D.C. power interference issue noted below.
Enabled Local Repeater.

• POWER SYSTEM:
o ‘Square wave’ noise on Hub Repeater went away just as soon as I unplugged the Power System from the A.C. socket on the wall.
Removed rack mounted A.C. surge protection.
Removed A.C. to D.C. switching power supply. Replaced with a small (15 amp) supply that was left on-site.
o Tested two DEKA 12AVR-145LLPS backup batteries with test set. 60%.

• RLC-4 CONTROLLER:
o #0208 causes rogue “ERR” code in CW somewhere in the system.
Toned: #0059 76 0 to maybe disable “ERR” code in system.

• WEATHER RECEIVER:
o Presidio area alarms not being decoded.
Discovered that I had forgotten to enable them the last time I uploaded the personality
Enabled Presidio area alarms and uploaded the changed personality in the Weather Receiver.

o Possible drop-out during audio portion of weekly test.
Tried to use computer-Icom IC-92 test system that worked at the house on my desktop WX radio.
Unable to get it to work. I may need to actually send the tone audio to a TP-1 on the motherboard but was unable to find TP-1.
Decided to save issue for another day.

o DATA:
Default codes: 012099, 012011, 012025, 012086.
K5FD codes: 048043, 048243, 048377

Using the UHF Hub Link Radio

While we are without the VHF 147.020+ repeater at Elephant Mountain you may use the UHF system hub radio as an alternative.

The hub transmits at 448.000 and receives at 443.000… that means a user wants to program 448.000, minus offset and 146.2 PL on their radio to use Elephant Mountain.

Repair trip, Elephant Mountain

N5NYM, W5ATO, N5HYD

SITE:  Vacuum

TOWER:  Static on VHF on occasion. Added temporary rubber to top of south guy wire.

WEATHER RADIO:

  • Reset to default personality using SW#4 and power cycle. Tried to use laptop speakers into a handheld to fake a weekly test but was unable to get it to work
  • Electrically erased personality in radio (via SW#4). Reloaded personality stored in my laptop.
  • We’ll wait until next Wednesday to see if it will work.

LOCAL REPEATER:

  • Unable to align duplexers.
  • Left repeater turned off.
  • Removed duplexers to bench test

146.920- Glass Mountain/ Ft Stockton Repair

Repair Trip – BBARC Link (Port #4) not up. Unable to bring it up remotely.
N5NYM – WA5ATO – N5HYD
>LINK #4 (BBARC) LINK RADIO: Not working.
>RLC-4 controller, Port #4 (BBARC LINK) showing constant RX and COR. This means the RLC-4 controller has decided Port #4 has locked up in receive, so has held the port inactive.
>No PTT vial local microphone.
>We decided that Link #4 Link Radio Motorola CDM750 #103TBU8993 may be defective.
>Swapped programming frequencies with Link #2 (WINK LINK ) radio.
>Swapped this radio with LINK #2 (WINK LINK) radio.

>LINK #2 (WINK) LINK RADIO: Swapped programming frequencies with LINK #4 (BBARC LINK ) radio.
>Swapped this radio with LINK #4 (BBARC LINK) radio.

146.920 Repeater, July 13, 2016

146.920 Glass Mountains Repeater

Filed by: w5ato

13-JULY-2016

Crew; No trip.

ISSUE: Site has lost link to BBARC hub again.

Shortly before the weekly 2-meter net we lost the link from the 146.920 repeater site to our BBARC System hub. Once again we have been unable to restore it remotely.

CURRENT STATE OF SITE: The 146.920 repeater is functioning but is NOT linked to our system. It does seem to be linked just fine to the West Texas Connection system.

FOLLOW UP ACTIONS: The exact problem has still not been identified. It is likely that we have a bad link radio. It is also possible we may have a problem with the controller. It is going to require at least one or two more trips to the site, and possibly some, “try this and see what fails where the next time,” steps before the exact problem can be pin-pointed.

It will be some time before anyone can schedule another trip, but we hope to get to the site within the next 3 to 4 weeks.

146.920 Repeater, July 10, 2016

146.920 Glass Mountains Repeater

Filed by: w5ato

10-JULY-2016

Crew; N5HYD, KB5R, W5ATO

ISSUE: Site has lost link to BBARC hub

Why the hub link to the 92 site went down and could not be re-established could not be determined. It seemed a power recycling of the link radio may have been what restored normal operation. These particular radios are somewhat unpredictable when voltage levels become unstable.

CURRENT STATE OF SITE: Fully functional as designed. The link to the BBARC repeater system has been restored.

While on site, a change was made to the link radio to the West Texas Connection repeater system which we use for the region wide emergency link to connect us to Midland/Odessa. In the past we had linked that radio to the WTC repeater at the Notrees. That has now been changed to link to the Odessa WTC repeater hub. We now hear no extra repeater drops that tell us we are linked to the WTC, and the audio is much better.

FOLLOW UP ACTIONS: We will, in the future, add some type of tone, courtesy beep, or something that will let us know when the WTC is linked to the BBARC system.