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.

Scott Stadium was evacuated at 4:20PM due to lightning warning and the football game didn’t resume until about two hours later. This is reporttedly the first time Scott Stadium was evacuated during a game (it was evacuated due to a bomb threat during a 2005 rolling stones concert). There were also flash flood warnings.

The Albemarle/Charlottesville/UVA twitter feed issued the following warnigns.
40404: ¡CommEmerg: There are numerous roads blocked due to high water and trees down throughout Albemarle County and the City of Charlottesville. Use… 6:08 PM
40404: ¡CommEmerg: There is a flash flood warning for southern Albemarle County until 9:15 PM. #39 m.twitter.com/CommEmerg 6:35 PM
40404: ¡CommEmerg: Albemarle County is experiencing high water in multiple locations. Please use caution when approaching bridges. #30 m.twitter.com/CommEmerg 7:57 PM
40404: ¡CommEmerg: The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for small streams in Albemarle County until 12:15AM. #30 m.twitter.com/CommEmerg 9:23 PM

I reused the picture from previous story: Lighting Protection and Station Grounds which you may want to revisit in the wake of an apparent lightning hit.

UPDATE: 2013-09-04 Repeater is back up. Bill Pond N0WP writes:

Thanks to Dave Damon for helping me today with the Marshall Manor repeater site and providing 4WD transportation. We first did some very basic repeater testing and learned that indeed the repeater controller was at fault with respect to the missing audio. We replaced that controller with our spare, and adjusted both 2 meter and 70 cm audio with our new service monitor to specs. We think it now sounds great! We may want to long term look at tailoring the audio a bit on the 444.000 transmitter since it does sound a bit strong on the high frequencies. We’ve left CTCSS output tone off for now.

We did install a surge protector AC outlet strip to hopefully avoid another episode like this last one if a similar hit were to occur on the incoming power. We also installed the polyphaser on the 440 feedline, and verified all grounds are intact.

It appears that Tim scattered some snake repellent around the inside perimeter of the building when he was there yesterday because we could obviously smell it, but the lack of snakes was the real clue.

I’ll see about trying to repair the controller we removed, but historically, lightning hits are pretty brutal. Since it seemed as though the processor and logic was functional, but the audio path was defective, we may be able to chase it down.

Please give the 146.760 a try. It should be back to normal operations.

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