February & March Engineering Committee Update

I’ve combined February and March updates due to lack of time on my part, and not lack of activities, so let’s get right into it.

In February the club sold the older Vertex repeaters to a ham club in North Dakota for a small profit.  These old Vertex repeaters were replaced by the new DR-1X Yaesu repeaters some time ago. The Vertex repeaters are going to be used for spares in a statewide linked system, so we were glad to give them to another ham club vs selling them for parts or trashing them.  Our club will take this profit and put it towards buying a new DR-2X repeater to install at the 443.075 repeater to run our Wires-X room. The DR-1X hardware that runs the 443.075 will move over to the 442.100 repeater. After we purchase this DR-2X and swap out the 442.100 machine, we will have all upgraded 2m and 70cm repeaters.

The club setup a dedicated St. Louis Wires-X Room (synonymous with a DMR “talkgroup”) named STL-METRO.  You can find this room at node #43072. Right now you can join this room on the AT&T 70cm (443.775+) repeater as it’s currently connected to it.  In the next month the SLSRC’s 443.075+ repeater will be connected to this room also. Hopefully by summer, we will have 3 or 4 local repeaters all connected to this room stretching from Jefferson County to St. Charles County with everything in-between.  As we build out the digital network, the 146.940 digital repeater will also be connected to the Wires-X network. We are currently working on adding the STL-METRO room to a FCS reflector which would allow hotspots to connect directly to this room.

In the month of February the committee purchased a new CAT-800 controller to replace the existing CAT-1000.  Joe (WØFY) has been programming this new controller with the same functions as the existing controller so there will not be large end user differences.  The new controller will give us the ability for better command and control with the 146.850 repeater. It will also serve as a connection point for our new AllStar node and run our new Echolink server.  Talking about AllStar, the club secured node number 40105 to serve as our “gateway” AllStar node/Echolink server connection. More to come about this new network and how it ties into the larger picture of linking SLSRC repeaters together.

In March the engineering committee visited the 146.940 and 442.100 repeater site and did some major upgrades.  There was a large open air cabinet housing the repeater equipment in the pool penthouse. Anybody inside the building who wanted to gain access to the equipment could.  We replaced the open air cabinet for a closed lockable cabinet with some massive 120m fans donated by Dan (KEØOZU) and a fan controller. We also consolidated all of the equipment into this smaller cabinet, upgraded the network switch and replaced some coax with lower loss.  We also replaced the 6 can duplexer for a smaller 4 can duplexer with lower insertion loss. The 6 can duplexer will become the club spare.

If you haven’t noticed, in the past few weeks we’ve had some issues with the 146.970 repeater and choppy audio.  In April we will swap out that DR1-X with a spare DR1-X to see if we have a hardware issue. If the choppy audio continues, we’ll know we have a power supply or interference issue.  There is quite a bit of equipment on the 146.970 roof, and some of it is government related, so there are no records detailing what frequencies it’s operating at so more troubleshooting needs to be completed.

In April we will also do more testing on the AllStar network and AREDN (Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network) setup.  During the April work day, we will replace the 146.970 repeater and also clean up the 146.850 cabinet, check the weather proofing on the coax connectors and do some general maintenance.

Below are some pictures of the March work day at 200 S. Brentwood Blvd (146.940 repeater site).

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”34″ gal_title=”February 2019 Engineering Work Day”]