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.
JEREMY PRINE
KC7VCG
SECRETARY/TREASURER
CAPITOL PEAK REPEATER GROUP

Current update status 4/19/2017

On Apr 19, 2017, at 9:00 PM, Jeremy Prine <kc7vcg@47repeater.com> 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

 

Information net

As per KB7ED, the President of CPRG, the following will take place…….The Information Net will suspend operations after Sunday April 30th. The net will resume operations on Sunday Sep 10th.

New duplexer installed

On Apr 2, 2017, at 3:27 PM, Jeremy Prine <kc7vcg@47repeater.com> wrote:

The trip up the hill went pretty well.  We installed the new duplexer and removed the old one. To see the new duplexer along with the old one click here to go to the update in pictures page.  We tested the old one to see how much signal it took to open the squelch on the repeater before removing it and took .5 microvolts.  After installing the new one did the same test and it took only .22 microvolts.  That’s a cut in half roughly of signal to open the squelch!  So I will be testing the old duplexer to see what happened if it got out of tune or damaged somehow.

We also tested the cat5 lines that are connected to the Hamwan in the building next to us.  They passed with flying colors to get our EchoLink node on the hill instead of relying on a RF link into town.

We measured for the remaining feedline jumpers from the polyphasers to the cabinets so they can be put together down here in spare time.

Looked at what needed to be done to get the APRS Digipeater back on the air and will be getting that projects logistics in line for a trip in the near future.

We will be doing some extensive antenna testing in the near future that will involve climbing the tower and testing feedlines, antennas, and jumpers individually.  When we look at the antennas with a antenna analyzer from the ground things just don’t look 100% and can’t determine why.

 

Thanks for everyone’s support and patience while we work threw our projects!

Jeremy Prine    KC7VCG

Board member of the Capitol Peak Repeater Group

A note about work being done on the hill

We will be doing some work on the hill Sunday April 2nd.  This will include installing a new duplexer on the main repeater, checking the internet connection for EchoLink, measuring for feed lines from the polyphasers to the cabinets and if time get the APRS digipeater hooked up and on the air.

While installing the new duplexer we will be on the backup repeater so you will notice a different courtesy tone, coverage might be slightly lower, and EchoLink will not be connected to the repeater.

Sorry for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience!

 

Jeremy Prine

KC7VCG

Board member of the Capitol Peak Repeater Group

Latest update 2-2-2017

So as some have probably heard I was able to make a trip up the hill Wednesday to install our backup repeater.  It has already help guide us in the correct direction in figuring out the receiver problem on the main repeater.  It seems that the duplexer filter system is not doing its job to its full potential.  this is probably because of the cabinet move and not being tested or adjusted for 20+ years.  We figured this out because the back up system is on its own duplexer and antenna system, we are able to change to the backup system when the problem is there.  We did that last night and the noise disappeared instantly when switched to the backup.
The plan of action is to retune the filters and see how far out of adjustment they really are.  If that doesn’t improve the problem we will borrow a different kind of duplexer and install it to see what the result is.  Finding this issue does not rule out that there is possibly a “rouge” station on the hill producing the interference and that no matter how good of filter system we have it will filter the interference out completely.  We are hoping to fix our issue and find the interference at the same time with out having to purchase a new filter system (very expensive).

Make sure you reserve the date!

annual2017repeater-meeting

annual2017repeater-meeting

Saturday 9/24 Hill trip

Well yesterday’s trip was kinda a bust.  Went up the hill with the intention of installing the cabinet fans but changed that to finishing the control receiver installation.  Ed made the trip up also and helped make the power cable for the receiver.  So after getting it all hooked up and the old one removed from its temporary spot we powered the new one up.  It immediately started flashing a “alarm” light that something was wrong with the receiver.  Noticed the COR light on the controller was on so figured the was configured incorrectly.  Grabbed the laptop and started looking for the Motorola programming cable but couldn’t find it, left it out of the laptop bag when I got a new one that holds both laptops a while ago. So I ended up reconnecting the temporary control receiver and calling it a day.  Chalk it up to a educational trip, can’t win them all.

We did make some new friends while we were up there though.  A gentleman came in the building while we were working and asked if we had some spare hardline jumpers.  Ironically David had donated two large storage totes of hardline jumpers.  Turns out he was with the 440 dmr repeater that is in the building next door in the same cabinet as Brett and Brian’s 440 repeater and hamwan.  So got to see how there system works and they really encouraged me to get a dmr radio and try it out.  They also complimented us on our repeater and its coverage sense they lived up by Seattle and have no problem getting into the repeater.

Looking to try and go up the hill next Saturday if things go good this week getting prepared for the new job.

 

Jeremy  KC7VCG

The repeater informational net

Beginning Sunday October 2nd the repeater informational net will once again become active. Please check in. The more the merrier! The net will begin at 8:00 PM on the repeater frequency 145.47 mhz negative offset, 100 hz tone. See you on the 2nd!

New address for the Repeater group

Repeater address now is:

Capitol Peak Repeater
P.O. Box 2755
Olympia, WA 98507