Latest from the Portland crew

SERG Mt Eckersley Repeater Project                                                                       28/06/2020


Report #5  

VK3HAQ, VK3HJV, VK3FJET, VK3HEW, VK3VET visited Mt Eckersley today laid the floor in the container.

The next project will be to build and install the work bench.

The internal dimensions of the container are approximately 1.8m long by 2.3m wide. We will need to know where the radio rack is to be located and how big it is and how big a bench is required and where it is to be located.

After that, the major part of the project, laying the footings and the mast base will be next on the agenda. However, before that Gus will need to partition a piece of land and install the fence and gate and level the site. I will contact him asap to discuss this. Weather will be a determining factor.

Thanks to VK3HEW and XYL for providing afternoon tea.

VK3HJV has posted some photos to the Facebook page and for those not on Facebook I have attached 2 images to the email.

Bearers going in for VK3RSW room
Finished floor

Tony Hutchison AM

Congratulations to Tony VK5ZAI on his becoming a Member of the Order of Australia. His AM was announced today on the list of  Queen’s Birthday Honours recipients.

Tony is recognised for his twenty year involvement with ARISS and NASA. In this time he has done much to promote Amateur Radio to many young people who had their first experience with Amateur Radio during his many, many school ARISS contacts to the Space Station.

All of this happened at significant cost to Tony and Jill, but that was never a factor in his dedication. Jill was always there alongside Tony and I’m sure Tony would credit  much to her support.

Tony has always represented our hobby in a professional manner and no doubt has prompted young people to further careers in electronics and communication and maybe even an upcoming astronaut or two.

Well done Tony, our club salutes you.

Re-arranged controller for VK5ROH

I’ve used the old Naracoorte Mk1 controller and installed it on a face plate to be used for VK5ROH. It will make it easier to see what is going on in future. One day Peter and I will install it at The Bluff. It may require some re-wiring of the plug but at least it will be ready for the IRLP/Echolink when we get our WIFI connection from the clubrooms.


Waiting for labels and the cover

UHF repeater relocated

Peter VK5BE, Andrew VK5VKC, Colin VK5DK and Leith VK5FLAR installed the UHF repeater (439.825/434.825) at The Bluff on Sunday 24/5/20. The unit is now running off mains power.

The antennas are temporarily placed at this time until tower issues are resolved. In the meantime there are much improved signals, especially to the NW. Well done fellas. There was quite a lot of activity testing the repeater this afternoon. Not as good in Mt Gambier as expected – it’s a long way away, but still usable mobile. David VK5HDW had usable signals mobile in Millicent.

2 metre repeater in left cabinet, 439 MHz repeater in right cabinet with 2M backup battery. The Portland link will require some re-arrangement to go in the left hand cabinet.
The workers (Leith, Col, Andrew), with Peter as photographer
UHF antenna in temporary position

Low voltage detect

The LVD for the Mt Eckersley repeater is now finished and working ready for installation in the VK3RSW cabinet.

The device makes use of a solid state relay. A microprocessor looks after the management of voltages. If the battery voltage falls below 11.9 volts the relay turns off and does not turn on again until the battery voltage exceeds 12.7V (80% charge) for 100 minutes. The timer ensures the battery is in good condition before the repeater is used.

The normal on range is from 13.8V (fully charged) to 11.9V (20% charge).

The device was home brewed and software program written in the VK5DJ shack.

LVD for VK3RSW (photo off centre to stop reflections)

Update from Portland

Report #1            Team visit 17/05/2020

                                VK3HJV; VK3HAQ; VK3FJET; VK3VET

  1. The outside of the container is in good condition. The rear (original) door is welded shut and it was decided not to remove the weld. At the roller door end there is rust damage at the very bottom LHS looking in. This damage is below the level of the floor but it might be prudent to repair it before the new floor is laid. The roof is in good condition.

  2. In a phone call to Gus before we went out, he suggested that we clad the outside rather than patch and paint. We thought that this was a very good suggestion as it will provide an air insulation gap as well as remove the need to patch and paint the exterior. We may be able to source some second hand zinc alum cladding either free (Gus and or VK3LTL). David has suggested using 90*45mm treated pine for batons, cut to length an screwed/bolted to the container to hold the cladding.

  3. David suggested that the roof slope from 200mm down to 100mm across the length/width of the container and again zinc alum the clad. He noted that the slope needs to be either pointing downhill or towards the clad and sealed end of the container.

  4. The old floor has been almost removed. David and Paul did all the hard work, and it was hard, as the flooring was heavy duty ply and screwed into steel bearers. Some of the steel bearers are damaged and rusted away from the support side frame. We will need to put some bracing in to help support the new floor. The new floor will most likely be heavy duty waterproof chipboard. David and I are hopefully heading out there this Friday to finish removal of the floor.

  5. In the preliminary phone call to Gus I mentioned getting the container up the hill when it is ready. He will organise a flat bed tilt tray and is going to take it up the gravel road through his neighbour’s property. This is the road access to the Telstra/Optus set up. He is prepared to cut his fence to allow access for the truck/trailer. This removes the hazard of getting the container up a very steep and slippery hill.

  6. We had some discussions (whilst enjoying the view from the top of the hill) about how the seat and bold the container into position. David had a great suggestion which involves 4 raised concrete pads to sit the container on and bolted or welded lugs to the container which will attach to the pads.

  7. David and I will draw up a materials list this Friday (time permitting) and then we can see how much we can scrounge without spending money.

Denis VK3VET

View from Mt Eckersley

VK5ROH down

On Sunday, May 17th, a team comprising of Peter VK5BE, Colin VK5DK, Andrew VK5VKC, and Andrew VK5MAS fully dismantled the 70cm repeater from the Crouch Street North water tower site in Mount Gambier.

This included the repeater and link equipment rack, all coax feeders and power cables, antennas, and solar panels.

As a result, the VK5ROH repeater will be off the air until further notice, for hopefully only a week or so.

The 70cm repeater will now be re-built using mains power in lieu of solar power, plus will no longer be linked to the 2m repeater VK5RSE at Mount Graham, once it is re-installed in our new facility at The Bluff.

Improved IRLP and Echo-Link facilities will also be added later.

Initially we’ll retain the off air feed from the clubrooms but a wifi link is highly likely. WiFi will be a significant upgrade by allowing us to put the IRLP/Echolink node at The Bluff. We await some work to be done at the Gambier Electronics site.

VK5RSE at Mount Graham still remains on air as a stand alone 2m repeater.

Report by Peter VK5BE on behalf of the repeater committee

Mt Eckersley Frequencies

We have received notification from ACMA that our frequencies for the new Mt Eckersley repeater will be 146.875 MHz TX (user receive) and 146.275 MHz RX (user TX).

The link frequency will be 449.875 MHz but users won’t need to worry about that.

John VK5DJ
Repeater coordinator

Naracoorte fence removed

The Naracoorte fence has been removed, not only does this tidy up the site but it also means that the Council people who tidy the whole site can also mow closer to the the repeater site – with the exception around the tower. I guess we’ll look to the NARC to poison regularly.

This will be great for the repeater maintenance team as they will no longer have to wear pith helmets when entering the area.


Mt Eckersley Cabinet now in Mt Gambier

Thanks to Brian VK5VI for arranging the cabinet and President Peter for getting it from the VK5RHO site.

The solar charger will be mounted at the top on the non removable back of the cabinet. Below this will be the repeater for Mt Eckersley which will be on 19″ mounting holes. The cabinet is quite wide so the right hand side of the 19″ mount is on a bar that is fastened from top to the horizontal bar. This leaves about 200mm gap at the right for limited access.

Peter plans to cut an access port in the rear of the cabinet behind the repeater. Normally this will have a covering plate attached by bolts with captive nuts. The cover will maintain the vermin proofing. Rear access to plugs, antenna connections etc is necessary as Tait equipment is quite heavy and difficult to remove from the cabinet if only one person is present.

In the lower section will be placed the 4-6 cavities (until we have tested we won’t know how many we’ll need) and the battery.

We are still waiting on the allocation of frequencies although the callsign VK3RSW has been confirmed.

The VK3RSW cabinet