Repeater Update 9/16/2017

Hello all,

Just a update on this weekends antenna projects.  Although there was a couple hang ups on u-bolt sizes for the mounts of the antennas we were able to improvise and get things done.  We got two new antennas on the tower, one at 80′ and another at 20′.  The 80′ is now our main repeater antenna and the 20′ it the APRS Digipeater-control receiver antenna. We also removed the old main “North” antenna and the old feed line to old North and south antennas.

So a recap, there is a “main” antenna at 80′ that the repeater uses normally.  A antenna at 40′ that we can remotely switch to if needed and our just to see the difference in coverage because of elevation. Also we still have the backup repeater that is still a completely independent system with its own antenna at about 15′ off the ground.

We also removed the old EchoLink link antenna off the tower to be “reconditioned”.  Once that is done we will use that one to systematically remove and recondition the north and south link antennas for the Evergreen intertie.  As we do that we will also be relocating the antennas to kinda group all of our antennas together and also replace the feedline going to them.

All this work will help the repeater group in the future keep thing going at top notch performance easier hopefully.

We have already in around the first 24 hours of the 80′ antenna being in service gotten contacts with stations that have already noticed a improvement in signal.  The main thing we have noticed is that we have better coverage within about a 20 mile radius in know “shadow” spots.  A example is the Mud Bay Area on 101 and farther out towards Shelton in the lower dips of the terrain on that highway.  We haven’t had any long distance stations in King county or to the south yet but hopefully we will also be surprised with that too.

I would like to thank personally and for the repeater group all that was able to come up the hill Saturday and Sunday and help with this project.  Everyone contributed and made this major project go pretty smoothly and get many man hours done in a short amount of time!


Jeremy Prine


Antenna switch install

This is the latest of upgrades, as told by Jeremy KC7VCG

I installed a “relay driver” and antenna switch into our system on the main repeater.  The relay driver is in place because the controllers output circuits can only take a very low amperage less then a ¼ amp (150milliamps).  Almost all normal relay coils take more then that. So the relay driver I found uses far less then that with the help of transistors that actually drive small relays that can handle up to 10 amps of current. The pictures show a small circuit board with 4 blue cubes (the relays).  Right now we are only using one to turn the antenna switch on and off but we have 3 more open for other expansions like door alarms, fans controls, and AC power loss alarms.  I also have another relay driver board if the need arises in the future

With the antenna switch installed the we are able to compare the “old” north antenna verses the “new” North.  The old north has not been moved and is still on its old feedline.  The new north is on new feedline and the true north leg at 40’.  After installing the switch I did analyze both antennas  threw the switch to make sure it didn’t compromise anything.  With the weather as nice as it was both antennas looked great.  After playing on the way down the hill and with our “traffic net” guys it is pretty apparent in my observations that the old north antenna is a “horizon antenna” meaning its pattern is to go long distance not close in coverage.  Not saying it doesn’t do good close in 15-30miles but the new antenna seems to be able to get into valleys better like Nisqually and Puyallup valleys along with highway 3 in Shelton.  I think this response will do nothing but get better with a antenna at 80’ on the tower.  Ether way I was talking to one of our newest members while he was on Moclips Hwy going home in Pacific beach switching between antennas and was making the repeater fairly well, that is a rough trip over the coastal foothills of the Olympics to get to the repeater.  One thing I did notice when I got home on my base station is the old antenna does not peg my analog meter like the new one,  the highest it goes is 60 “over” and swings down to 9 with a “waving” sound on the audio.  I am line of site to the repeater and can actually see the tower on clear days.  I have not seen this on any of my digital read out radios as like a multi meter they just don’t react as fast as analog meters but can hear the wave.

Also installed hinges on the relay driver plate and punch down blocks to make it easier to access the back of the controllers and repeaters in the future.

Pictures can be viewed here.

New antenna install

To see pictures of the newest antenna being installed at the 40 ft mark please click here.

New pictures

There are new pictures posted in the Repeater upgrade set. Please click here to access the new pictures. The pictures are of the crew installing the new hardline. Photo credits go to Don Prine KD7AVI

2017 Annual Picnic

CPR Picnic 2017

CPR Picnic 2017

Antenna work set

On Saturday June 17th a work party is scheduled to happen. At that time the current south antenna will be moved to another leg of the tower and will become the north antenna. The current north antenna will come down and will be tested to see what is exactly wrong with it. Also with the antenna move it is planned to replace the hardline with new. A lot will be going on that day. If you would like to help you can give Jeremy KC7VCG a call on the repeater or send him an email or you may send a note via the webpage. It will take several people on the ground plus those on the tower to accomplish this move.

Tacoma Trail Cruisers Smuggler’s Run

The Tacoma Trail Cruisers will be using the repeater to coordinate and pass rider safety information during their annual Smuggler’s Run in the Capital Forest.  Motorcycle riders use trails within the Capital Forest to reach check-points on the way to the final destination. The Smuggler’s Run is scheduled for July 29th and July 30th during the hours of 8:00 am through 4:00 pm each day.  The repeater will remain open to all licensed users throughout the event.
As always, emergency message traffic from any station at any time has priority.

The Tacoma Trail Cruisers are looking for volunteer FCC licensed Amateur Radio Operators to help officiate the Smugglers Run at trail check-points. Contact Dan Burgess at (253) 318-7162 for more information.

The Capitol Peak Repeater Group supports community activities.  Thank you for your cooperation.

Edward Keim, KB7ED

President, Capitol Peak Repeater Group

4/28/2017 Hill Trip

There was a trip up the hill today to try and trouble shoot the antenna and feedline issues and adjust the audio levels threw out the system.
We found a few different issues with the antennas and feedlines. We corrected and repaired what we could with the time and materials we had on hand but the repeaters board will be discussing the options to correct the problems permanently.
The audio issues brought more problems then expected, as of now EchoLink is off the air and the Evergreen intertie is not accessible from our repeater but the north-south trunk is still working threw our site. Because of the complexity of our system there are numerous adjustments that need to be done to make everything work together. We just ran out of time and will complete the adjustments in the near future.
Sorry for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

Jeremy Prine
Board member of the Capitol Peak Repeater Group

Also the APRS digipeater is back on the hill and working properly on 440.800 MHZ.

Update 4/24/17

 Hello all,
Saturdays trip went well and the list of tasks were completed. I went up to complete installation of the “control receiver” and to analyze all the antennas with more knowledge of the tools I was using.
First I finished the control receiver install.  It took a little bit to get the controller programming correct to know when the receiver was active.  Then after that had some audio issues and adjustment.  With the receiver being adjustable on its audio output the controllers audio input and output adjustable its a little tedious getting things just right.  All is connected and working at this time.  Also removed the Icom mobile radio that Bill had been letting the repeater use and will be returning it to him.
Next was to analyze or “sweep” the antennas. (see pictures here) I went threw all the antennas and did this with a Bird SiteHawk and Anritsu S311D Sitemaster.  They both are very accurate TDR (Time domain reflectometer) that will both show you if and were a antenna is resonate and also how long a feed line is or the DTF (Distance to Fault).  When testing for antenna they sweep a frequency range that you set.  In our case we have VHF and UHF systems and I swept different areas for the different antennas.  In the Pictures you can see on the bottom in the left corner a start frequency and the right corner a stop frequency.   At the top of the picture you will see what kind of test it is (Return loss or Distance to fault).  On the Return loss pictures the vertical scale is what signal level in DB that is not leaving the antenna or is getting reflected back.  The horizontal scale is the frequency.  A feed line and antenna that is in good shape should be at -14 or lower, -14DB is about a 1.5 SWR.  So as you can see we have some issues on some of the antennas.
The DTF pictures are a used to find bad connectors, damage in a feed line and a very precise measurement of a feed line if it is unknown. The test equipment lets you choose what kind of feedline you are using and takes into account the los of the cable on your frequency, velocity factors, ext. On the picture for the “Southlink you can see the line is pretty flat till about 20 feet then there are two bumps, that is the length from the jumper from the cabinets to the polyphaser.  The first bump is the connector and second is the Polyphaser.  The large spike is the antenna and the complete length of the antenna system. Some of the DTF pictures you can see where the main hard lines stop and then go to a short jumper to the antenna by the small bump befor the large spike of the antenna.
The “mainsouth” picture shows a flat line or completely dead antenna system, not a good thing. The northmain there are two pictures that show how the wind was “changing” the resonance of the system, that indicates that there is probably a mechanical problem (bad connector or damaged feed line-antenna).  The “backup repeater” return loss picture shows what a antenna in good condition looks like.   The “V” on the graph is clean, smooth and on frequency.  It is a very precise Ham band antenna and not a broad band commercial type antenna but gives a good idea of what its suppose to look like.
The North, South and Echolink link antennas are Log Periodic Yagi antennas and look different then a Omni vertical because they are designed for a very large band of frequencies.   The Echolink is the best example of what they should look like.  Each dip is the different elements on the yagi and what frequency it is resonate at.
The APRS and Control Receiver antennas are both “open stub jpoles” and both have issues as you can see in the pictures.  They are good antennas and have there uses but really are not built for the conditions on the hill and probably just need to be replaced.
I think I covered it all, if not let me know or if you have questions.

Current update status 4/19/2017

On Apr 19, 2017, at 9:00 PM, Jeremy Prine <> wrote:

I think most everyone knows what has been done on the hill lately but I wanted to give a update of what still needs to be done and some ideas to think about.

We all know there is major testing to do on the antenna system to do that will involve climbing the tower.  David and myself talked about this today and we will probably be scheduling to do this in a month or so when weather hopefully becomes more predictable.  Because of scheduling with Davids family and his wife’s business project we will probably do this work on a weekday as a “community service day”.  We can do the testing side with just us two but more people would be nice.  If a antenna or feed line needs repair or replacement it will be needed to have more people. We will try and give as much notice as possible so everyone knows and can get the day off to attend if they want to take part. There are still a few jumpers needed to be made that go between the polyphasers and the cabinets also.

I also have been learning more about some of the equipment I have access to from work so I will be doing more detailed analysis of the antenna systems so we have a better idea of what we need to do when we climb the tower. I will do this testing this weekend.

We also had a new Control receiver donated to us that is in the cabinet but not hooked up an functional yet.  I will be tackling that this weekend. The current control receiver is a radio Bill let the group use in a pinch when we had the malicious interference a couple years ago, once removed it will be returned to Bill.

Although not a major thing but the weather radio is very old and was modified to give the necessary signal for the controller to activate when a alert is sent by NOAA.  After a little research I have found a few manufacturers that make weather alert radios that have a “Signaling” circuit built into them and audio outputs that will work with the controllers for around $50.  Another nice thing about the newer radios is when the alert is done the signal goes away so the controller does not have to be set to listen to the weather radio for a set amount of time that’s usually longer then the actual alert.  Another small reason I suggest this upgrade is the audio quality will probably be better although after listening and watching the signal from NOAA’s radio station today on a spectrum analyzer it is way over modulating and is most of the crappy audio problem we hear.

There is a couple cables that interconnect different components in the cabinets that honestly just bug me (but work) that are the wrong length or superficially damaged that I don’t like.  I will have to custom build these in time.

Something that is going to take time and patience is numbing or labeling all wires or cables.  This will involve numbering, writing a description of the cable and circuit, fuse value if power wire, and if a audio-control cable the port of controller and pin-out of that cable.  One of the reasons this project was proposed is to clean things up and make it easier to work on.  After all the cables are labeled like this there will be a block diagram and simple schematic put together along with a control operator programming book that can be easily followed and modified as repairs and or upgrades are done in the future.

Like I said I will be going up this weekend on Saturday after breakfast and will do more detailed antenna testing and trying to get the control receiver switched over.  If you want to join me or help let me know. it will probably be a all day trip about 3-5pm before coming down the hill.

Also the APRS and control receiver antennas are both “homemade” open stub jpoles.  There is nothing wrong with these antennas but are not really designed for the conditions they endure on the peak.  If anyone has ideas of what these could be replaced with and or antennas to donate might be something to put on the list down the road.

I’m getting to much gray hair! lol another thing is EchoLink.  We have all the necessary components (Rigblaster that was acquired at the swap meet, internet at the cabinets and computer) to move the EchoLink up the hill.  I need to configure the Rigblaster and bench test it and then move it up the hill.  I did testing a couple weeks ago with internet on the hill and there is no need to do any firewall or port forwarding within the Hamwan system. That was a big relief.  I will try and do this move in a couple weeks.


Jeremy Prine    KC7VCG

Board member of the Capitol Peak Repeater Group