October 1 repeater update

As everyone probably knows, the 146.925 continues to be our problem child. Within the past month, we’ve made at least 3 visits to the site, attempting to resolve, improve, or at least understand the problems that seem to be multiplying.

Problem #1. The nasty noises in conjunction with average to weak input signals continues to occur with “random regularity”. (one of my favorite nonsensical descriptions) We’ve chased this issue over changes of repeater hardware, duplexer hardware and tuning, antenna replacements, repeater frequency change, feed line jumper changes, power supply replacement, site ground repairs and enhancements, controller changes and upgrades, site power issues, etc. About the only thing we have not replaced or swapped out is the physical tower! The tower is an approximately 110 foot Rohn 45 that does have some pretty rusty joints we can see with binoculars, so it’s possible that’s the root cause of the noise issue, or is contributing. We’re continuing to evaluate and investigate the problem, always optimistic we’ll find something we’ve overlooked.

Problem #2.  The repeater controller recently began a new behavior where it drops PTT towards the transmitter.  This results in the transmitted signal dropping with the user that’s transmitting being unaware of any problem.  The controller replacement described below should resolve this problem.  We’ll address the offending controller after it’s removed from the site.  Until this issue is confirmed as resolved, we’ll need to leave the Monday evening net on the K4DND 146.730 repeater.   We’re very grateful for Dave’s permission to use it for this net.

Problem #3.  The Vertex VXR9000 repeater has begun to show power amp issue codes with “random regularity”.  These don’t seem to be causing any real problem, so we’ll address this one after we resolve problem #2.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.
The club recently approved the purchase of a new replacement controller that gives us some added capability that we’ll hopefully be able to roll out as these improvements are added to the software. The new controller will soon be installed at Marshall Manor, then we’ll begin a process of sending our older controllers to Arcom to upgrade them with the same capability. The upgrade requires a replacement of a VERY SMALL 64 pin surface mount microprocessor.  The upgrade microprocessor is $25.00 and replacement service is an additional $25.00.  I certainly don’t have the ability or tools to replace the microprocessor, so I believe factory replacement justifies the $25.00 cost to have them perform it.
The 444.250 repeater at Martha Jefferson Hospital was upgraded to one of our two Yaesu Fusion machines 2 or 3 months ago. It seems to be working fine in “ams” mode. This means it’s operating exactly as the old FM only repeater with FM input signals, but will recognize a Yaesu Fusion digital input signal, and repeat it as digital. (FM in, FM out. Digital in, Digital out). The remote base operation remains as always on this repeater.
146.895/224.760 repeater at Bucks Elbow continues as before, with the 2 meter being our other “newer” Yaesu Fusion repeater operating in AMS mode like the 444.250. I’m not aware of any problems with the equipment at that site.
146.760 at Heards Mt. has been back on the air for a few weeks after having a controller issue in August. At the time we replaced the controller, we installed a new remote power control mechanism that allows us to power off or on the 2 meter repeater AND Arcom controller remotely with a DTMF command over the link/control receiver. (We have also installed the same mechanism at Marshall Manor.)
Thanks again to everyone for their patience, assistance, and understanding. Please use the repeaters and let us know of issues you may experience, or suggestions you might have. Everyone has ideas as to the best way to operate our repeaters, especially the linking behavior of them. I’ve had a suggestion that I think is a good idea especially in light of the current noises with the 146.925.  Soon, we’ll try a behavior where the .925, .760, and .895 will be unlinked by default. Activating net mode will result in linking the repeaters for the duration of the net, and turning net mode off will unlink them. We’ll evaluate how this functions, and determine if and when a change is needed. Again, please continue to let us know of any issues or suggestions.
Bill, N0WP