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Alexandria, VA    VA Equipment and Site    

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Alexandria, Virginia site:

In progress

Click for Alexandria, Virginia Forecast Components and changes

The main unit is an Hamtronics repeater REP-200. There are two controllers on the system and the available options will change depending on which is active.

The main controller is a CAT-700B in an RME-1000 Enclosure with a DL-1000 Audio Delay. Additional accessories are, a DR-1000 Digital Recorder with S.A.M.E decoder,  a RLS-1000 Remote Link Switch and a WX-200 Digital Weather Receiver enclosed in a RME-200L Enclosure.

The 100 watt PA and matching power supply are from Henry Radio. The 28-66-02A Duplexer and 80-05-06 Cross Band Coupler are from TX RX Systems Inc.

Antenna remains an unsolved mystery, mainly because one has to be chosen. More gain, less gain, length, etc. The transmission line will be Andrews (now CommScope) Heliax SuperFlex coax, FSJ4-50B. Part of the delay is analyzing what the best operating power, placement, and configuration is before assembly. The repeater is operating into a dummy load without the PA operational for testing and initial set up.

Haven't determined which interface for Echolink and/or IRLP. Probably going to build one as I did previously. They work great but I am going to add isolation transformers this time.

A few notes about this machine. I purchased it used and found numerous areas that may save someone time and grief. The Henry PA, I really like them so this is just a check it over in case. The interior power wire from the main power feed to the distribution point for the various boards was completely melted off. It looks like it may have been a cold solder joint but nevertheless, it was completely disconnected. By the looks and condition of the unit, I wonder if this PA has anymore than a few minutes of transmitted time on it, the inside is absolutely perfect with zero traces of heat.

The REP-200 repeater and connecting cables/harness have been problematic since arriving. The cabling is functional, all shielded, not too heavy, etc, BUT it is way too stiff. Any movement, which is inevitable, causes grief.

I found some good replacement cable by Belden, 9539. Nine connector with a drain, flexible, shielded, nice jacket and very nice to work with. This cabling will be used to replace all existing harnesses.

The cables, ran though the REP-200 case, were cut through the wire insulation for two reasons. One, the insulation on the original cable is made of a rigid plastic material that doesn't take abrasion well. Two, the punched hole through the repeater case is super sharp, finger cutting sharp, and  there wasn't a grommet or extra protection where harness fed though.

The cable stiffness probably attributed to a ground coming loose and disconnecting inside the repeater. If you have to use a more rigid cable, use a small length of flexible jumper. I fought with feedback and numerous other issues before realizing that the ground had become disconnected. I blame the stiff cables for no less than three other bad connections in the multiple DB9 connectors as well. While the DB9s are a neat idea for removing parts of the harness, how many times will/have they been apart? Not once since the repeater arrived here. Each piece of add-on equipment has it's own connector interface on the device. The repeater does not have a disconnect so I can see leaving one there but the others have to go. 

The power cables are going to be replaced at the same time. Standard two conductor wires are feeding the CAT controller and Weather receiver, they will be replaced with shielded cable. All of the power will be changed to feed from a fused junction block like the Waupaca station has. The grounds will also be fed to a terminal strip like Waupaca.

A note on the weather receiver, I detect a bit of hum, not sure from where yet but the audio through the repeater sounds better than NOAA weather radio. :) The SAME decoder works great, warnings and tests are automatically transmitted by the repeater, NOAA can also be activated manually at anytime.

I sent the Weather Receiver to CAT Automation for repair, didn't get a repair statement so I can't say what was wrong with it but the hum seems reduced. There was mention of a reset, or a master reboot but I am not sure. Part of the problem seems to be related to the necessity of reducing the audio levels, the WX unit has a significant amount of audio drive.

The LMR400 patch cables (jumpers) used to connect the repeater, PA, Duplexer and Multi-coupler will all be changed to CommScope (Andrews Heliax), probably half inch. I am contemplating 1/4" in the receive path because it is available with BNC connectors which would eliminate adapters on the Duplexer and tentative preamp. It would seem to me that 1/4" on the transmit side would be sufficient  for the short runs (less than 36") and relatively low power to the PA, any thoughts?

DTMF Tones for the CAT controller - Alexandria
162 NOAA WX radio on   1620 NOAA WX radio off
375 DTMF pad test   400 Time of day
5001 Link on (disabled)   5000 Link off
5002 Link on - listen only      
700 Voice Demo Prefix   725 DVR play 01-16

Alexandria, Virginia:

Alexandria Equipment and Site


Waupaca, Wisconsin:

The system had an Astron power supply failure. The unit has been replaced by a GE supply with battery back up.

 Click for Waupaca, Wisconsin Forecast Components and changes

Well, the system has grown considerably since the original configuration. The first Maratrac transmitter lasted for over a year until it gave up. The second lasted less than a few months due to leaving the transmit power set too high. Mobile units do not have sufficient cooling even with three big fans on the unit. Rather than keep replacing transmitters, an actual repeater was purchased that includes a rack mount configuration and a power amplifier section that is rated for continuous duty.

This unit consists of a GE Mastr II UHF repeater, Arcom 210 controller, RFS/Celwave 526-4 duplexer, Advanced Receiver preamp, Motorola T1507 pass cans and a GE rack mount power supply in a Motorola cabinet. The station is producing about 100 watts, less out the duplexer.

The system is operational but still needs a complete system check to verify everything is working correctly. During the first couple of months, the Astron power supply died, no idea what happened yet. The unit has been repaired and waiting to be used on another project.

The Mastr II 100 watt rated PA feeds directly to a Telewave TZM-450 E-Z Match via a 90 degree UHF connector and then to the duplexer with FSJ4-50B SuperFlex, no braided coax and only one UHF to N female adapter off the Z-Matcher.

The Standing Wave Ratio (SWR) is 2:1 from the PA to the duplexer, strange. The SWR from the Vocom to the duplexer was nearly flat 1.1:1 so there is a mismatch but don't know where. I ordered and installed a Telewave TZM-450 E-Z Matcher that is tuned to 50 OHM at 444.675, hopefully that fixes the mismatch problems and the PA plays happy. Many of the newer GE PA's had Z Matcher units built on the unit OEM.

The Mastr II is fed by FSJ1-50A from the duplexer to the pass cans and then RG400 to the preamp and the receiver. The RG400 will be replaced with Heliax sometime.

The RC-1000 controller has been replaced with a three port Arcom-210.

The Arcom has an auto-patch but isn't isn't programmed for auto-patch activity yet. Phone number for the patch is 715-952-7578, which has voice mail and will send me an email of any messages are left.

The repeater is linked to the WINetwork via a GE MLS radio and a yagi.

Propagation Characteristics and Paths - old data before the last change out of equipment performed February 2009

The repeater site elevation and lack of antenna height above terrain are a problem. The site is at about 830 feet and the antenna at about 60+ feet, a tough match for the hilly terrain and climbing elevations to the West.

Foliage changes during the summer and winter are having a large impact on the low height and power of the signal, better in the winter, worse in the summer.

Seems to favor the East Southeast towards the Fox Valley with a handheld achieving a 14+ mile contact. Handhelds are averaging 3-8 miles with good signal reports. Great news with HT coverage to the Northeast. Symco, which is located on hwy 22 about 14.5 miles to the Northeast, a signal was first heard at 45 and C intersection in Clintonville about 24 miles out but was in solid by the 14 mile distance...maybe just conditions but here's to hoping.

Mobiles so far have gotten about 12-13 miles distance from the North, about the same Southwest with scattered hill contacts to about 20 out and a clear 16 mile signal to the east.

The higher elevation to the West is problematic with the first low power test giving us about 8+ miles depending on the location. Next test with better equipment, 9+ miles in the woods. AB9NS had a clear copy on the hill at the J and 10 intersection which is 23 miles to the West. Continued contact while inbound the repeater on Hwy 10 was a bit scratchy in the low areas initially but improved steadily. Super solid from Amherst.

Excellent mobile coverage to the airport in Appleton, about 26+ miles to the East Southeast. Good mobile coverage to downtown New London, about 16 miles East.

Southeast is where the coverage is best. AB9NS maintained good communications with the repeater to Hwy N and 41 just Northwest of Fondulac, which happens to be exactly 41 miles from the repeater! The repeater is heard on the higher elevations, once at 60+ miles out but not for usable communications.

A base from 13 miles North was full quieting. Any base stations please give us a call for additional signal reports. We're listening.

Will continue to add signal reports as they come in.

Looking for a local site with more height, any ideas?

Thanks to KB9MRR, KC9KIW, KC9KUJ, and AB9NS for help with the equipment, trouble shooting and extensive testing.

The Waupaca repeater is connected to an IBM Netvista machine running XP, Remote Administrator, Echolink, Echotime, and Ambient Weather. The IBM's are some of the BEST computers I have ever worked on and with. More on the Echolink and IRLP pages.

A number of Echolink stations, including this one, have had trouble with the onboard audio failing or being unreliable to the point that they have required the addition of sound cards. Don't buy high end cards, the audio stream can't utilize the quality.

Echotime has current weather and weather warnings (when they exist) rotating in and out of the announcement slot. This file can be played at any time.


    Waupaca, Wisconsin:

Waupaca Equipment and site

2007

Click for a bigger pictureClick for a bigger picture

UHF repeater antenna ASP705Diamond X500N digipeater antenna

September 2008

2009

Information for the 444.675 repeater has been moved to it's own web page


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