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ARES BULLETINS REGARDING NEW REPEATER FOR NORTH HAWAII

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1/3/2014

This is a progress report for the 2 meter ARES voice repeater and digipeater we're planning to install at a site on the northwestern slope of Mauna Kea. Since the last progress report: 

We are still waiting for a decision from the Parker Ranch board of directors regarding the formal agreement for the site of the 84/24 repeater system. Although this process is taking longer than expected, coverage from this site promises to be exceptional so we will continue to work toward securing this agreement before exploring alternative sites.   

The MSR 2000 modules and power amplifier that were promised by Jim, K2LM, and Frank, KA2QYE, arrived and have been added to the system; however, the Motorola GM300 radios for the packet node and the additional equipment that was promised has not yet arrived. Jim has assured me that these items will be shipped in January.  

In the last report, I mentioned I discovered a faulty internal cable that needed to be repaired and that I would fix it soon. Well, that didn't happen. Shortly after I released that report a medical problem cropped up that required immediate attention; and, as a result, I'm just now getting back to work on the repeater. During my down time I was only able to keep up with a few administrative tasks.

Looking forward, I want to make sure that once the repeater is installed it can be maintained even if I am not available for whatever reason. To that end I have asked Marc, WH7CA, Steve, WH7TW, and Dale, KH7LZ, to assist me in keeping the system operational and running at peak performance. I will be bringing them up to speed on the design and maintenance requirements of the system in the near future.
 
As of 01 January 2014, this project is still about $250.00 in the red and I think we will probably need an additional $100 to bring the proposed site up to snuff. According to the most recent edition of the ARES membership list, there are 72 members in the North Hawaii ARES jurisdiction. If you have already contributed, thank you very much. If you haven't contributed yet, please consider making a small donation so we can "get 'er done." I will accept cash and checks directly or, if you prefer a tax write-off, see the previous posts on how you can do this.

10/11/2013

Aloha,

This is a progress report for the 2 meter ARES voice repeater and digipeater we're planning to install at a site on the northwestern slope of Mauna Kea. Since the last progress report: 

Negotiation with Parker Ranch to obtain a formal agreement for the site of the 84/24 repeater is moving forward. John, KH7T, made a comprehensive presentation to the Parker Ranch land asset manager and it was well received. Big Mahalo to John for stepping up and taking on this challenge. The Parker Ranch board of directors is scheduled to vote on our proposal later this month (October).  

John, KH7T, Bill, KH6BI, and I had the opportunity to visit the site and run some preliminary tests. Standing at the base of the telephone pole and using my 1 watt HT, I was able to talk to stations in Waikoloa and Kohala Estates with full quieting signals both ways. The station in Waikoloa was Mary Kay, NH7ZF, running 10 watts into a groundplane antenna in the attic. The station in Kohala Estates was Norm, NH7UA, running 5 watts into small beam in the attic. We were also able to talk to Dale, KH7LZ, in Kapaau but needed Bill's 50 watt mobile radio working into a 1/4 wavelength antenna on the roof of his SUV in order to do it. Dale was running 50 watts into a J-pole antenna mounted outside on his house about 15 feet above ground level. While the signals were readable, they were not full quieting. The fact that this worked at all, however, was a pleasant surprise since the path from the repeater site to Dale's house is the worst with respect to terrain. When the actual repeater is installed, the transmitter will put out 100 watts and the antenna will be 80 feet higher and have a gain of 9 dB in that direction. Based on those numbers,  we are confident that full quieting signals will be possible from the Kapaau area of the island. 

Jim, K2LM, and Frank, KA2QYE, read about our repeater initiative on-line, and offered to assist with the project. Frank donated many MSR 2000 modules including a 100 watt power amplifier and Jim covered the shipping cost to get all of it here. Big Mahalo to Jim and Frank. In addition, Frank has promised to ship some Motorola GM300 radios for our packet node and provide some additional equipment for the packet station too.  

Most of the MSR 2000 repeater has been refurbished, tested, and is working properly; and we now have nearly a full complement of backup modules on hand; however, I would still like to have an extra Multiple PL Encode and Multiple PL Decode module for spares. An additional problem was discovered prior to testing the RF power amplifier. One of the internal coaxial cables is intermittent. While this problem isn't all that hard to fix, it involves totally disassembling the unit in order to gain access to the coax connector. This will be done as soon as time allows. 

As of 10 October 2013, this project is still about $200.00 in the red. If you haven't already contributed, please consider doing so. See the previous posts on how you can do this.
I will issue additional progress reports as this project continues to move forward. Len, KH7LW, is publishing these updates on his web site. You can find all of them at
www.hamradioandmore.com/khrc.htm. Until next time, thanks for supporting the North Hawaii Community Amateur Radio Emergency Service Repeater.

6/28/2013

This is a progress report for the 2 meter ARES voice repeater and digipeater we're planning to install at a site on the northwestern slope of Mauna Kea. Since the last progress report: 

The duplexer and bandpass cavities shipped on 31 May 2013 and arrived 7 June 2013. I assembled them into a 6 foot tall rack cabinet, tested them, and the performance was better than expected. Insertion Loss (IL) is 3.3 dB for the voice receiver channel and 3.5 dB for the voice transmitter channel. Those numbers include the IL of 1.45 dB for the receiver channel and 1.42 dB for the transmitter channel resulting from the combiner needed for the digipeater. Isolation between the receiver and transmitter channels is more than 100 dB. The theoretical target for a 100 watt repeater using 600 kHz spacing is 88 dB so we have plenty of headroom to add a receiver preamplifier if that becomes necessary. I'll post some pictures and Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) plots to the KHRC website as time permits.

All of the MSR 2000 primary and backup modules have been tested. Leaky electrolytic capacitors were replaced and replacement trimpots were ordered. They should arrive early next week.  

The primary receiver board was re-aligned with the new Channel Element installed and the sensitivity was better than expected. The factory specification is 0.5 microvolts for 20 dB of quieting and this board required only 0.3 microvolts. The backup receiver board was also re-aligned and tested; it too was more sensitive than the factory spec. 

During receiver testing a problem was discovered. The audio supplied by the receiver to the Squelch Gate module became intermittent on a random basis. After a lot of testing and head scratching the source of the problem was identified. There was a hairline crack in a printed circuit trace very close to the pin of the Squelch Gate module. Apparently, when the former owner soldered a wire onto that pin, the trace was partially severed in the process. I soldered a jumper across that part of the trace and that resolved the problem.  

Exciter and transmitter testing will be performed as soon as the replacement trimpots arrive and are installed. 

The DB224 antenna was assembled and tested at ground level and is good to go. Measured Return Loss (RL) was 22 dB which corresponds to an SWR of 1.1:1 and a reflected power of 0.6%. The resistance measured 51 ohms and reactance measured 7 ohms. 

Negotiation with Parker Ranch to obtain a formal agreement for the site of the 84/24 repeater continues. The site visit prior to antenna installation still has not been scheduled. 

As of 28 June 2013, this project is still about $250.00 in the hole.

If you haven't already contributed, please consider doing so.


This is a progress report for the 2 meter ARES voice repeater and digipeater we're planning to install at a site on the northwestern slope of Mauna Kea. Since the last progress report 5/29/2013:

The duplexer is on schedule to ship via FedEx on 31 May 2013.  

Negotiation with Parker Ranch to obtain a formal agreement for the site of the 84/24 repeater continues.  

The site visit prior to antenna installation still has not been scheduled. This may be because we don't have an agreement in place.  

As of 28 May 2013, $5,320 has been donated to this project; $1940.35 has been spent; and, $3,678.40 has been committed for the purchase of the duplexer and bandpass filter. At this time, it appears we will need an additional $298.75 to complete the project. So, if you haven't already contributed, please consider doing so now. There are two ways you can go about doing this.

ARES BULLETIN 2013.04.23 REPEATER PROGRESS REPORT

This is a progress report for the 2 meter ARES repeater we're planning to install at a site on the northwestern slope of Mauna Kea. Since the last progress report: 

The matching funds from Google were received and the duplexer has been ordered. The manufacturer graciously agreed to sell it to us for the previously quoted price even though the original quote had expired. That's the good news. The bad news is that the shipping cost increased and they had to increase the delivered price accordingly. So, I placed the order but we will need to come up with a little more money to cover the additional cost of shipping. Estimated delivery date is 31 May 2013. 

I have located and purchased most of the sub-assemblies I expected to get from the second CAP repeater. Some of these items were needed to complete the repeater while others will be set aside as backups. The only item I wasn't able to get was a spare RF power amplifier. I was hoping to get one of my buddies on the mainland to buy one for us at the Dayton Hamfest, but there isn't enough money in the kitty to pay for it, so we'll have to forgo that for now. I anticipated having to spend in the neighborhood of $200 or so for this plus shipping.   

Negotiation with Parker Ranch to obtain a formal agreement for the site of the 84/24 repeater continues. The site visit prior to antenna installation still has not been scheduled. This is probably due to the fact that we don't yet have an agreement in place. Marc, WH7CA, asked to be added to the list of antenna installation volunteers. The volunteers are: Steve, WH6N, Dale, KH7LZ, Eric, KH6CQ, Eddie, WH7DG, Marc, WH7CA, and Bill, KH6BI. 

At the March KHRC meeting, liability and equipment insurance for the repeater system was a topic of discussion. The club decided to buy these policies. The hat was passed, donations received, and Steve, WH6N, is in the process of buying the policies. 

Our goal was to raise at least $4,000 for the ARES repeater project. As of 23 April 2013, $5,020 has been donated; $1,656.34 has been spent; and $3,678.40 has been committed for the purchase of the duplexer and bandpass filter. This leaves a negative balance of $314.74 and I still need to buy a bracket for mounting the antenna to the pole. Since the bracket I have in mind costs $162.00 plus shipping, and we won't know if it will be suitable until the site visit, I haven't ordered it yet.  

There are three reasons for the cost overrun. First, most vendors instituted a 10% price increase on their products after I made the initial estimate. Second, the cost of shipping increased substantially. The most outrageous example of this was for the antenna. The actual shipping cost was $469.74 whereas the estimate was $125.00. In addition, the duplexer and bandpass filter have to be shipped via Fed Ex rather than by the USPS because the girth exceeds the USPS limit. I honestly didn't anticipate these increases when I put together the initial estimate. Third, although the original plan was to build the voice repeater first and then add the digipeater in the future, it became a lot more cost effective to do both simultaneously. In fact, doing this saved approximately $800. At this time, it appears we will need an additional $600 to finish the project. So, if you haven't already contributed, please consider doing so now. There are two ways you can go about doing this. 

First, NK-CERT has made arrangements with the North Kohala Community Resource Center (NKCRC) to help fund this initiative. The NKCRC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, so contributions should be tax deductible. To make a contribution through them you can: 

Go to http://www.northkohala.org

Click on Donate (near the top),

Scroll down to "Find a specific project to donate to" and click the link, In the drop down box, scroll down to "North Kohala CERT" and select it, Click "Donate Online Now" and make your contribution. 

Finally, earmark your donation for the ARES Repeater Project by sending an email to info@northkohala.org and say your donation is intended to be used for the ARES Repeater Project. 

Second, if you would like to support this project but are not interested in the tax deduction, I will accept cash and personal checks made out to me for deposit into the repeater account. This method actually allows more of the money donated to go into the project since NKCRC charges an 8% fee for their services. 

Either way, mahalo for your donation. 

73 and aloha, Eric KH6CQ

District Emergency Coordinator

Hawaii Amateur Radio Emergency Service

ARES BULLETIN 2013.03.25 REPEATER PROGRESS REPORT

Negotiation with Parker Ranch to obtain a formal agreement for the site of the 84/24 repeater continues. Since the last update was issued, Bill, KH6BI, has met with them several more times. 

The second MSR 2000 repeater we were expecting to receive from CAP will not be coming according to Paul, KB2RUZ. This means that we will have to locate a few more pieces of equipment than originally anticipated in order to complete the repeater. I have notified all those who might be able to help and check the auction sites on a regular basis. So far, I have located and purchased the PL modules, the 100.0 Hz reeds for the PL modules, the microphone, and the station manual. 

At the February KHRC meeting, we discussed the work that needs to be done at the site to install our new antenna. It was decided that a group of us should visit the site to see what we have to work with and identify any issues that could be addressed in advance. The following members volunteered: Steve, WH6N, Dale, KH7LZ, Eric, KH6CQ, Eddie, WH7DG, and Bill, KH6BI. A date for the trip has not been set yet. 

I'm still looking for a Motorola GM300 VHF transceiver for the packet digipeater station. If anyone knows where we can get a GM300 with model number M43GMC29C1 or M43GMR29C1 at a reasonable price, please let me know. (The C2 version will not work in the lower portion of the 2 meter band.) 

Our goal is to raise at least $4,000 for the ARES repeater project. As of 26 March 2013, $3,180 has been donated; $1,571.07 has been spent; $55.47 has been committed for the purchase of parts; and, a balance of $1,809.01 remains in the account. This amount plus future contributions will be used to purchase the duplexer and the other items needed to complete the project. At this time, there is not enough money in the account to order the duplexer. If you haven't done so already, please consider making a contribution. There are two ways you can go about doing this. 

ARES BULLETIN 2013.02.25 REPEATER PROGRESS REPORT

Negotiation with Parker Ranch to obtain a formal agreement regarding the site of the 84/24 repeater is progressing. Bill, KH6BI, met with them again on 25 February and provided additional information they requested. I received the instruction manual for the Kantronics KAM Plus TNC from Herb, WY6G, on 18 February.  

I received the Andrew DB224E antenna on 22 February. The next step is to assemble and test it prior to installation. Again, a big mahalo to Paul, KB2RUZ, for his assistance with this purchase. 

I have been testing, troubleshooting, and refurbishing the MSR 2000 repeater. The power supply has been restored to operating condition and now meets factory specifications. I have identified some components in the plug-in modules that need to be replaced. They need to be ordered. 

At the last KHRC meeting, we discussed the work that needs to be done at the site to remove the old antenna and install our new antenna. It was decided that a group of us should visit the site to see what we have to work with and identify any issues that could be addressed in advance. The following members volunteered: Steve, WH6N, Dale, KH7LZ, Eric, KH6CQ, Eddie, WH7DG, (who was off island but expressed an interest in helping), and Bill, KH6BI. A date for the trip has not been set yet. 

To implement the 100.0 Hz PL tone recommended for use by all two meter repeaters on the island of Hawaii, we need to obtain two additional Motorola plug-in modules. They are a TRN5073A PL module and a TRN5292A MPL Encoder module. I have begun searching for these on e-Bay and elsewhere, but if you happen to know where I can get them, please let me know. 

I'm still looking for a Motorola GM300 VHF transceiver for the packet digipeater station. If anyone knows where we can get a GM300 with model number M43GMC29C1 or M43GMR29C1 at a reasonable price, please let me know. (The C2 version will not work in the lower portion of the 2 meter band.) 

I updated the purchasing and technical documentation folders so this information will be available in the future. 

Our goal is to raise at least $4,000 for the ARES repeater project. As of 25 February 2013, $2,680 has been donated; $1,239.74 has been spent; $131.25 has been committed for the purchase of channel elements; and, a balance of $1,440.26 remains in the account. This amount plus future contributions will be used to purchase the duplexer and other miscellaneous items needed to complete the project. At this time, there is not enough money in the account to order the duplexer.  

ARES BULLETIN 2013.01.07 ARES REPEATER UPDATE

Aloha,

This is a progress report on the 2 meter ARES repeater we're planning to install at a site on the northwestern slope of Mauna Kea. Since the last progress report, I have done the following.

I followed up with Bill Wiecking who is working on getting written permission to install the repeater at the proposed site.

For those of you following the project from it's inception, there has been a change in the frequencies the repeater will use. This resulted from the fact that several members requested that a digipeater be co-located with the voice repeater in order to provide packet radio coverage to the same geographical area. Although I am in full agreement with this concept, it places additional demands on the voice repeater system.

The frequency separation between the digipeater's transmitter and the voice repeater's receiver would have been less than 1.9 MHz. This meant that whenever one of the transmitters was keyed, the other receiver would have been desensitized unless additional filtering was installed and this would have been expensive. So, by working with Rick, KH7O, the repeater coordinator, I was able to get a frequency pair higher in the band that results in a frequency separation of more than 2.79 MHz. The bottom line is that now both the digipeater and the voice repeater will be able to operate simultaneously without interfering with one another.

In addition, I will donate a combiner so that both the digipeater and the voice repeater can use the same antenna and feed line thus eliminating the need to buy another antenna and feed line for the digipeater. As a result of this change, the voice repeater will now receive on 147.84 and transmit on 147.24 MHz.

Just to be clear, the equipment I am buying now is for the voice repeater. The digipeater will be added to the system at a later date when and if a suitable radio and TNC (terminal node controller) become available. I just wanted to consider the implications of adding the digipeater now so that we would not incur additional expenses later on when the digipeater station is added.

I sent the transmitter and receiver channel elements to International Crystal Manufacturing (ICM) for reworking. They will remove the crystals currently in the channel elements, install new crystals cut to our frequencies, as well as test and calibrate the temperature compensated oscillators in the channel elements. The quoted turn-around time is 6 weeks after receipt of the channel elements. The quoted cost is $122 plus shipping by first class mail. I should receive the reworked channel elements by 15 February.

The vendor I have been using for silver plated coaxial connectors and double-shielded coaxial cable had a huge price increase last year so I felt it necessary to locate another source for these parts. I researched various vendors and sent an RFQ to The Wireman for the specific parts needed for the repeater.

I exchanged emails with sales engineers at Telewave and TX-RX Systems in order to clarify ambiguities in their company's product literature. Once I get confirmation on the performance specifications for their duplexers, I will decide which one best fits the requirements for this project. To date, the folks at TX-RX have been more forthcoming than Telewave.

Herb, WY6G, donated a Kantronics KAM Plus TNC for the digipeater portion of this project. This is an excellent unit and I'm looking forward to putting it into service.

I continued recording the purchasing and technical documentation for this project so it will be accessible in the future.

As of Monday 7 Jan 2013, we have $1,840 in the project account. The goal is to raise at least $4,000. Please consider making a donation if you can. There are two ways you can go about doing this.

NK-CERT has made arrangements with the North Kohala Community Resource Center (NKCRC) to help fund this initiative. The NKCRC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, so contributions should be tax deductible. To make a contribution through them you can:

Go to http://www.northkohala.org Click on Donate (near the top), Scroll down to "Find a specific project to donate to" and click the link, In the drop down box, scroll down to "North Kohala CERT" and select it, Click "Donate Online Now" and make your contribution.

Finally, earmark your donation for the ARES Repeater Project by sending an email to info@northkohala.org and say your donation is intended to be used for the ARES Repeater Project.

But that's not the only way to make a donation. If you would like to support this project but are not interested in receiving a tax deduction, I will accept cash and personal checks made out to me for deposit into the repeater account. This method actually allows more money to be applied to the project since NKCRC charges an 8% fee for their services.

You can read an article written by the North Kohala Community Emergency Response Team (NK-CERT) by downloading the December issue of the Kohala Mountain News from http//www.kohalamountainnews.com. The article is about three-fourths of the way down Page 4.

I will issue additional progress reports as this project continues to move forward. In the meantime, thanks for supporting the Amateur Radio Emergency Service in the North Hawaii district.

73 and aloha, Eric KH6CQ District Emergency Coordinator Hawaii Amateur Radio Emergency Service