October 31, 2004

Updates and enhancements


I'm happy to report that the newer receiver for the TVC link (voting receivers, 145.27 link) has been installed and appears to be functioning well. It's possible that with this change there may be tweaks needed to assure the voting systems are unbiased, but I am encouraged that the newer receiver will work so well we'll all forget that it's in the system. Time will tell as to whether it's all it's cut out to be. I expect that we've heard the last of the interference from the shorwave broadcaster on 12mHz.

With this update comes a few more linkable local repeaters. An updated 'cheat sheet' will be forthcoming denoting the additional frequencies available. Of note also is that the 2mtr synthesized remote base, when operated in VFO mode is set to encode a 114.8hz PL tone. This is an interim solution until the remote programming of the PL tone can be done, but that's likely a ways off.

Of interest also is the change to the remote base inactivity timer. This timer now will cause the repeater to key up and say 'link under active timeout... remote links off' when it unlinks the remote base after 30 minutes of inactivity. The timer now will fully set the remote base back to the known default mode too, instead of just unlinking it.

With this update is the loading of the newest 'beta' firmware for the RC210 controller, version 4.29. Hopefully this latest software will be reliable and trouble free. There's a phenomenal amount of complexity in the system, when it runs smoothly it's a wonderment.

73 KF8KK

October 30, 2004

Voting/TVC Link RX work


I'm happy to report that the crystals have arrived from Bowmar and the new 'Motrac M series' receiver for the link from W8TVC has now been tuned to frequency. I now need to pull the existing 'H series' receiver down from the repeater and swap in this better one. With luck, this should only take a few hours.

The plan is to start this work about 5pm today, Saturday Oct30, with the removal of that receiver (which disables the 145.27 link and the remote voting receivers). If all goes as planned, I will return to the site later this evening (again, Sat 10/30, likely around 10pm) and install the new receiver. The new receiver should not be prone to interference from shortwave broadcasters (or so we hope).

If all goes well, I may update the RC210 controller to newer firmware that allows the unit to notify repeater users when the remote base times out due to inactivity. Presently, when there's no activity on the remote base for 30 minues (and it was enabled) it quietly/silently disables the remote base. It'd be nice to get an indication on the repeater when this occurs (helpful if a sked has a vague start time). I also plan to put the battery backup battery on charge. In the past month there was a period (about 10 hours) where the site lost power and the repeater was running off the battery. The machine operated fine in this mode, with the only notable oddity being that the PL encoding on the 444.725 output was continuous with PTT, which is a minor annoyance but something to ponder.

I'll post another update once the new receiver is re-installed.


October 21, 2004

Repeater On Vacation


Since it seems most of the regular users (and all the control ops) for the wI0OK 444.725/52.92 repeater are taking a few days vacationing out of town it has been deemed appropriate to let the repeaters have a few days of rest too.

In other words... the repeater will be off the air for a few days.

I expect it to resume normal operations late in the evening on Tuesday 10/26.

Thanks for your understanding.


October 05, 2004

Anonymous Mode


Today (er, Monday Oct 4) found the repeater apparently working normally, but it would not automatically identify. If the ID's were called up using the '888' ID command, it would ID both sides (6m vs 440) properly, which confirmed that the repeater knew who it was-- just that it wasn't wanting to broadcast this to the world without someone prodding it with tones.

Issuing the code to force the 2am housekeeping reset didn't make the ID's reappear. Harumph.

Late in the evening I issued the remote software reset (and then set the repeaters clock and date) and that caused the ID's to return to normal functionality.

The cause of the 'anonymous mode' is still unknown. Harumph.

73 KF8KK

October 03, 2004

Link RX & Battery Backup work


Tonight I made one final 'last ditch' attempt to alleviate the 12MHz shortwave interference from the UHF link receiver. This involved increased shielding of the old Motrac receiver. While I did measure an improvement on the workbench, it's hard to determine if it's enough. Time will tell. Sadly, the next alternative involves ordering crystals which will slow up the resolution by a couple of weeks.

I also added a little kludge box to the system to 'brute force' solve the problem of the power sneaking into the 6m Mitrek from some 'back door' during operation off of the backup battery. My earlier fix, did not appear to solve the problem of the 'continuous beeping' (6m cos triggering repeatedly) when the repeater was operating off of the backup battery. It's not pretty-- but it will assuredly get the job done while I explore the circuit and figure out a better way. While I was at it, I also added a power-cutoff for the UHF link receiver so that that unit goes dead when the AC power does. I noticed that the receiver PL decoders didn't like the slightly lower voltage of the battery, and they were operating erratically on the backup power. My new relay box cuts off the 6m COS line and removes power to the link receiver when the AC mains goes out. The repeater was run for about 15 minutes on the backup battery power and it seemed to function well. The 220 link worked fine, but the weather radio oddly would not hold up the PTT on the repeaters (it does work properly when on A/C power).

There were a few other minor programming changes performed tonight also.

Hopefully good progress on both issues (link interference and backup power operation) has been made tonight. Time will tell...

73 KF8KK