WA4TFZ 146.760Mhz Repeater Storm Damage UPDATE: repeater is back up

NOAA Photolibrary image of multiple lightning strikes
Photo Credit: NOAA Photo Library

Bill Pond N0WP writes on Saturday 2013-08-31:

It appears the Marshall Manor repeater site may have experienced some storm related damage today. Mike McPherson notified me around 5:15 PM today that he heard some beeps, then nothing on the 146.760. We did some attempts to reset it, etc. Both the 146.760 and 444.000 appear to respond to commands, key up as expected, however there is no audio output at all. No audio from repeater generated audio, or repeated audio. Carrier hang time seems correct, but zero audio. In the interim, I've disabled both transmitters. I'll play with it a bit more tomorrow, but I think there's a good possibility we'll have to install the spare controller to get it back on the air.

I'll update this as I learn more. At a minimum, I'd expect we'll have to run the Monday night net on 146.895 this week.

Shelby Hamfest: Saturday/Sunday 2013-08-31 to 09-01, Shelby, NC

If you have been paying attention to the new club calendar you know that it is labor day weekend and that in addition to our every other week breakfast bunch gathering (separate story) it is also time for the Shelby, NC hamfest and that traffic in town will be a mess due to a UVA home game.
Shelby Hamfest Logo
Saturday August 31 & Sunday September 1, 2013
Cleveland County Fairgrounds
1751 E. Marion Street, Shelby, NC 28152

Gates open at 7:00 AM each day (August 31 & September 1)
Inside Dealer Buildings will be open 8:00 AM-5:00 PM on Saturday
Inside Dealer Buildings will be open 8:00 AM-1:00 PM on Sunday

Talk-In: 146.880 (-), No Tone - W4NYR Repeater

Breakfast bunch: Back at Panera

Image of Hot Air Baloon over Panera Bread
Hot Air Balloon over Panera
During AARC Breakfast Gathering
Click to enlarge
Photo Credit: Mark Whitis AK4OL
License: CC-BY-3.0US

Looks like we are back at Panera this saturday. Mike KQ9P writes:

This Saturday is our regular Ham Radio Breakfast Group! Let's make it Panera in the Barracks Road Shopping Center this time. I will be there by about 7:15am. Things usually wind down around 10am. Drop by any time.

Things that I am pretty sure we will talk about are scheduling the next foxhunt and an update on our KickSat satellite ground station project. Anything is fair game, though.

Panera Bread
1121 Emmet St N, Charlottesville, VA ‎
Barracks Road Shopping Center
(434) 245-6192 ‎
lat/long: 38.052218, -78.501571
google maps.

Virtual test equipment: computer audio signal generation tools

plot of sin(x) from -2pi to 2pi using gnuplot

Your computer and sound card can be used in lieu of some pieces of test equipment, particularly audio equipment. A couple times in as many weeks, I have needed to generate tones to send over the radio.

Most of the tools described here run on Linux; most are also available on Mac OS X, Windows, FreeBSD, etc.

AARC Breakfast Group Location Survey

Thanks for all the responses. The results are in!

Question 1 Part A

Review: Cheap SMA to BNC adaptors

(click to enlarge)
I just received an order of SMA to BNC adapters from www.rfsupplier.com. They are cheaper than most other resellers with an adaptor price of $1.60 or $1.80 and $3 shipping for multiple adaptors. More info below the fold for those who are stuck with SMA connectors on their radios, including pictures with various radios and antennas.

Video: "road" to Marshal Manor repeater shack. +Photos

Don't forget to reprogram your radios. See separate headline.

Part 2: This is the last part of the journey to the repeater shack. This is the Safari part of the journey. It does not include the drive to the winery or the drive through the winery which includes some rough and steep but traveled roads. This video starts just as we resume travel after closing the last gate. The site is located on "marshal manor" south-southeast of charlottesville which is actually the back side of the Carter Mountain Ridge but it is not on the portion where the commercial antenna farm and apple orchards are and what locals think of when you say Carter Mountain and is reached by a different route. "Marshal Manor" is actually a subdivision on the west side of the ridge (we are approaching from the west side) though in this video we will basically be travelling north along the ridge. We waited weeks after a rainy spell for this road to be considered passable even with a 4x4 truck with high clearance.

The May 2013 Fox Hunt

Fox Hunt Transmitter (exterior view)We should be scheduling a new fox hunt soon. But not enough was written about the last fox hunt. Here is a picture of the Fox Hunt transmitter used in our May 2013 fox hunt. A fox hunt is a nickname for a ham radio hidden transmitter hunt.

Video: Repeater shack snake evictions

2011 Virginia Earthquake 2 Year Anniversary

Virginia 2011 Earthquake Map
Twitter 8/23/13 12:36 PM ¡CommEmerg: #Albemarle #Charlottesville Today marks 2 yrs since the 5.8 earthquake shook Central VA. Remember: Drop, Cover, and Hold On! (EM 2)


Great southeast shakeout earthquake drill is coming up on Oct 17:

Article backdated to anniversary date. Actually written 2013-09-01

Reprogram your radio 146.760 - August Marshal Manor Repeater Maintenance Trip

Al KF4AGT augering hole
Al KF4AGT drilling hole for Flamini ground rod
to be filled with bentonite clay and epson salts
Photo: Mark Whitis AK4OL

The configuration on the WA4TFZ 146.760Mhz repeater has been changed today so that, while you still need to send 151.4Hz CTCSS, the repeater does not send CTCSS. Some CTCSS does appear to leak through from the transmitting station but your radio is likely to not reliably stay unsquelched during reception if your radio is set to require CTCSS inbound. For chirp and many radios, this means the radio needs to be set to "TONE" instead of "Tone Sqeulch" or "TSQL" or something similar. My radio was squelching about half the time. Also, you won't hear the courtesy beep as there is no CTCSS from the transmitter to leak through.

This change was made as a temporary (weeks, months) measure since it is believed that 151.4 from the transmitter side was feeding through into the receive side and causing the repeater to rebroadcast large amounts of noise.

AARC 50th Anniversary Picnic and Silent Auction 2013-09-10 5:30PM EDT

Bill N0WP grill master
Bill N0WP as Grill Master
2012 picnic
Photo Credit: KA4JJD

K4JEC writes: Just a gentle reminder that time is running out to make your reservation for the club’s annual picnic and silent auction – new location offering new scenery. Please help us out by sending your reservation to Don N4UVA. He needs to know who much food and drink will be required to satisfy all the hearty appetites.

In lieu of the normal monthly meeting, we will be having our annual picnic and silent auction.
The location this year will be the Elks Lodge Shelter. I assume this will be the picnic shelter adjacent to the Elk's lodge on 389 Elk Drive where we have held our annual dinner banquet, NOT the lodge on 2nd Street downtown. Also note that it will not be held at Darden Towe park, as it has been in years past, though the primary route to darden towe park seems to be the one that takes you past the Elk's lodge.

Club Activities Calendar

New Google Calendar which you can import into your own google calendar or other calendar apps so you can see AARC events along side your personal events and events from other groups.

Breakfast Bunch Saturday 2013-08-17 Cavalier Diner.

Image of Cavalier Diner, Charlottesville
Photo: AK4OL. CC-BY-3.0-US
KQ9P says:

We'll have a shortage of Mikes at next Saturday's breakfast. As the last Mike standing, I have been authorized by the Council of Mikes to convene breakfast on Saturday, 17 August 2013. I'm going to exercise the privileges of the Control Mike and choose the location: Cav Diner (http://thecavalierdiner.com/, 1403 N Emmet, Charlottesville). I will be there sometime between
7 and 7:15am. They know we are coming (I'm having breakfast there as I type this...). If you beat me there tell them you are with the ham radio group. Turns out that one of the owners is an Italian ham, so we should get a warm welcome!

August Meeting: Tuesday 7:30PM: Green Bank/Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers conference

Picture of Green Bank Telescope (GBT)
Green Bank Telescope
Photo: Geremia on wikimedia.
Public Domain

The club monthly meeting is Tuesday 2013-08-13 7:30PM EDT at NRAO, preceded by a board meeting at 7:00PM. Presentation: Jim Wilson (K4BAV) will be giving a presentation about his trip to the Green Bank, WV NRAO observatory site for a 4 day Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA) conference.

Meeting Location: NRAO Auditorium, 520 Edgemont Road, Charlottesville, VA.
Lat/Long: 38.036817, -78.518115
google map.

False tornado alarm.

Weather alert symbol with exclamation point triangle over storm clouds
Daily Progress says someone accidentally pressed a button next to a canned message during a training session. As a result, about 500 people who had signed up for alerts (I posted the link in an earlier story), received calls and text messages warning of a tornado. I was one of them. I had signed up a couple weeks earlier because my phone didn't support WEA/CMAS mobile alerts. In the meantime, though, my phone got smashed (probably on the rough "road" to/from marshal manor repeater site) and I replaced it with a similar but newer model that does support WEA/CMAS. And thought it odd that I didn't get alerts there or on the weather radio or TV. Since WEA/CMAS is a broadcast method while the other system makes calls and text messages to hundreds or thousands of subscribers, the WEA/CMAS method should be much more reliable, faster, and less likely to overload the phone system for those who have newer model cell phones but the other system offers an alternative for older cell phones and landlines.

Breakfast bunch at Sam's Kitchen Saturday 7AM.

Image of breakfast plate at  Sam's Kitchen Restaurant
Sam's Country breakfast plate ($9) plus dutch apple crepes ($6).
Photo: AK4OL. CC-BY-3.0-US
The breakfast bunch (an informal gathering of hams) will be gathering at Sam's Kitchen (not Panera bread as we have been) in Albemarle County about 2.5 miles north of Charlottesville city limits.. Sam's kitchen is not where it used to be and is also not where google maps thinks it is (though this has been reported and they may update). This is in the Woodbrook Shopping Center, Diagonally across Route 29 and Woodbrook drive from Lowes, behind Kohr Brother's Frozen Ice Cream. It is at the center (inside corner) of the L shaped strip mall behind Kohr's where the Mexican restaurant used to be. We will meet at around 7AM and will probably run till 10:00AM or 10:30AM.

Curious about Spear's Mountain?

Summit of spears mountain
Spears Mountain Underground bunker site and Troposcatter reflectors
Photo credit: USGS Gladstone 7.5min quad 2013 USTopo GeoPDF

If you ever wondered about Spear's Mountain in Buckingham County, or Peter's Mountain in Albemarle County, you will definitely be interested in the following.

Recently, Lynchburg's Channel 13 aired a report on the Buckingham site, featuring our esteemed colleague Gordon Winn WW4GW, as well as the current property owner Steve Rann. If you look into the background during part of the interview, you will see the WW4GW repeater antennas and wind generator.

Ever wonder what it would be like to own a 40K square foot underground nuclear hardened bunker complex? Check out http://www.wset.com/story/22982860/the-mystery-of-spears-mountain

Many great photos of the installation can be found at http://coldwar-c4i.net/ATT_Project/Buckingham/

Repeater Maintenance - Marshal Manor and Bucks Elbow

Marshal Manor Tower
Marshal Manor Tower and Shack.
Photo Credit: AK4OL
This photo cost me 300 chigger bites.
We had two Repeater Maintenance trips in the last week.

Wednesday 2013-07-24, Marshal Manor

  • Bill Pond N0WP
  • Jim Owen K4CGY
  • Al Bogden KF4AGT
  • Jeff Bogden KK4SHN
  • Mark Whitis AK4OL

Buck's Elbow, Saturday 2013-07-27

  • Bill Pond N0WP
  • Jim Owen K4CGY
  • Dave Damon K4DND
  • Mike McPherson KQ9P
  • Mark Whitis AK4OL

Read on to learn a little more about these two sites.

August Issue of The Beacon is now available

The August Issue of The Beacon has been uploaded and now available for your information and entertainment.

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