Due to a request from the owners of the site we will be moving from the brick building to the ATCO hut next door. We appreciate the continuing support of Gambier Electronics.
This has necessitated us arranging to put power onto the ‘new’ hut. This was approved at the meeting on 21/2/20. We don’t know how long this will take as the power was disconnected several months ago.
Because the antennas will temporarily remain as they are we will need to make adjustments to their cables – their entry is currently on the east of the brick building and they will need to come in on the west of the ATCO hut. Secondly the VK5RMG VHF antenna may have to be moved sometime soon, so we may have to put a temporary antenna on the old tower. It is likely that range will be initially compromised and it is possible that the repeater may be off air for a week or two awaiting power and working bees.
Heywood Repeater Group inaugural meeting – 16th Feb 2020
On Sunday February 16th, and held at the QTH of Denis VK3VET, the inaugural meeting was held to plan the Heywood repeater project on Mount Eckersley.
In attendance were Peter VK5BE (Chairperson), John VK5DJ, Brian VK5VI, Denis VK3VET, Paul VK3HJV, John VK3FJET, Peter VK3HEW, Steve VK3ZAZ, and David VK3HAQ.
Apologies were received from Ian VK3DNQ, Phil VK3FDAA, Colin VK5DK, and Gus McLean (Land owner)
Peter VK5BE opened the meeting with a summary of the progress made so far, outlining that a site sharing agreement had been secured, all RF equipment such as 2m repeater, 70cm link, all antennas, cabling, and a tower had all been (or being) acquired through SERG members including Brian VK5VI, along with the 12V DC solar power supply. Subject to club approval SERG will create a project support budget.
A letter has been forwarded to the WIA Frequency recommendation group requesting frequencies for both the 2m repeater and the 70cm link. Those present agreed that we apply for VK3RSW as an appropriate call-sign.
Discussion then followed on the topic of the type of hut to be constructed. It was agreed that a small brick and concrete hut be built on site subject to the acquisition of suitable material.
For the purposes of securing possible government grants, the Portland group will consider reactivating the dissolved Portland and South West Amateur Radio Club This will also enable the repeater to be a “WIA repeater licenced” device ensuring the licence is paid annually by the WIA in accordance with their policy of supporting one repeater licence per club.
All the VK3’s present agreed to form a repeater planning group, led by Denis VK3VET, to coordinate the construction phase of the project, and will hold planning meetings at Denis VK3VET’s QTH, with possible remote members sitting in via Skype.
Paul VK3HJV agreed to create a private face-book group for the project to keep everyone informed.
At the January business meeting, Peter VK5BE sought club support to investigate building a repeater at Portland to support our members there. The club agreed to the investigation.
Since then Peter and Col Vk5dk travelled to Mt Eckersley, just north of Heywood to see what might be possible.
While there they were able to access our Channel 6 repeater on The Bluff from ground level using a 1/4 wave antenna on the roof of Peter’s car. This gave the group some hope. The distance is 100km.
Col had brought along a yagi for 70cm and using that they were able to work the repeater via the UHF links at The Bluff. Signals were noise free and it should be understood that the UHF beams were pointing to Naracoorte and Mt Benson, not Mt Eckersley. So a link will not be a problem.
This gives strong hope that a repeater at Mt Eckersley would be a good proposition for both linking and providing coverage to the area. The view from the top was very impressive.
While there they spoke to the farmer and he was positive about hosting the repeater on his farm.
Further updates will be made when more progress is made. No final decision on proceeding with the project has been made, it’s investigations at this stage.
Naracoorte repeater The repeater is now up and running again, thanks to Peter VK5BE for making two trips to Naracoorte. On arriving at site on Sunday, Peter found that the battery and charger were operating as they should. The various receivers and transmitters also seemed to be working well. The problem was traced to the controller. Recently the Naracoorte repeater was locked for two days, so to save the TX I decided to turn it off by remote control to save wear and tear. Well that turned out to be the wrong thing. Unfortunately there was a bug in the software (nope, not the 6 legged variety) which resulted in once a transmitter was turned off it was not possible to turn it back on from the same receiver. It would have been possible to do it through the links but we didn’t know that until later.
So Peter brought the controller to my QTH where I had a spare ready to go but in the meantime I was able to identify the problem on the spare and use the plug in keypad to recover repeater control if it was turned off. So when Peter arrived here it was just a matter of telling the controller that it was OK to work the repeater and it could be returned to site with the warning to me not to turn off the repeater by remote control until I had killed the bug. When we install the antenna which is now ready to go (just waiting on personnel and the crane), I will reload a corrected version of the software.
So Peter then drove back to Naracoorte, re-installed the controller and all was well again. While he was there he has turned the mute off a little harder as it was on the edge of noise. That should sort the noise problem.
Thanks Peter. I have disciplined myself accordingly, a couple of quick slaps on the wrist.
Problem in software found and fixed. Will update both Naracoorte and Bluff when next on site. Cheers John
At present Naracoorte is not responding. A few days around Christmas time it was locked on with receiver noise and this is usually either interference or low volts. As it went on for a couple of days I think the unit was losing power. Probably the battery charger.
At present no-one is going that way with a key so it will be off until further notice. I think the links are down too.
ALARA is the Australian Ladies Amateur Radio Group.
The Associations mission is to encourage women’s interest and active participation in amateur radio.
have created a grant scheme to encourage more women and girls to get
their amateur radio
licence qualifications. This scheme covers approximately half the cost
of getting a licence and callsign. It is also available to enable
current Foundation Licence holders to upgrade their qualifications to
Standard or Advanced.
Users would know that about two weeks ago we lost the transmitting link to Mt Benson from the Bluff.
Today, Andrew VK5MAS and I visited the site to identify the cause of the problem. Turned out the transmitter itself was faulty and was outputting a VERY weak signal only just audible 20 metres away.
We had prepared for all eventualities and so had a spare TX on board. A quick swap and all was OK again.
Unfortunately my IFR blew a fuse and so it was not possible to set the audio level to the standard 3kHz deviation for a 1kHz tone. I needed the IFR to monitor the deviation. Consequently it was set by ear and will need to wait for another time once the IFR has been repaired.
In the meantime, the whole repeater system is again functional.
While we were there our power meter was read. We will now be able to pay the proprietor of the site for electricity used.