Cheshire County DX ARC
Recent history of:
The VHF "KEENE" Machine
NEWS FLASH NEWS FLASH NEWS FLASH
On September 5th, 2000 at about 6pm local time, the callsign was changed to K1TQY and the Cheshire County DX Amateur Radio Club officially became the new Trustee for the 146.805 2m Repeater located on Hyland Hill.
NEWS FLASH NEWS FLASH NEWS FLASH
(The Old "Henry" Micor based repeater with the ACC850 controller)
When Dawn - K1TQY the former trustee of the repeater passed away, many of the users of the 2meter repeater requested that the repeater owners attempt to obtain Dawn's callsign for the repeater as a tribute and memorial to her never ending service to the Amateur Radio Community. It was initially thought by some that it was just a simple matter of getting the appropriate forms completed and submitted, however, it was soon discovered that there was a lot more to it than that....
The CCDX ARC became involved in this when Len - WA1UNN, one of the repeater's co-owners began talking to Joel - WA1ZYX, about what was going on. Len had hoped that the local club might be interested in pursuing obtaining the TQY call so as not to have to wait the two year waiting period required under the Vanity Call Sign program. Len also wasn't really interested in getting involved with another project of this magnitude. The club could obtain the call almost immediately - under the "In Memoriam" provision, because Dawn was a member of the CCDX ARC. Keep in mind that "immediately" in dealing with getting licensing requirements taken care of equates to "months", but that is a lot sooner than years!
Joel had Len make a formal request so that he could present it to the Club at it's next meeting, which was scheduled to take place on Apr 19, 2000. That also provided ZedYX with some time to gather information about what was needed to make this happen and have everything handy for the potential gazillion questions that may be asked. ZedYX supported the idea and thought it would be a win-win situation for everyone. The users could get the TQY call back on the repeater and if all went well, The CCDX ARC would gain some more new members.
At meeting night, there was a fair amount of discussion, but it ended in a unanimous vote to proceed in obtaining another club license to use as a repeater call.
The licensing is still in progress, as there were a couple issues that needed to be addressed prior to beginning the 2nd callsign process. Those have since been resolved, so we're now ready to begin.
Also, there has been horrible interference on the input to the repeater from a nearby "garbage pump" (aka paging transmitter) that has made the repeater pretty much unusable unless you have a rock crushing signal. Len had been making arraignments to actually move the entire repeater from the Hyland Hill site to Pinnacle Mtn which is on the other side of Keene. ZedYX suggested that rather than move from Hyland, perhaps it might be beneficial to set up remote receiver sites, beginning with one on Pinnacle linked over to Hyland on UHF. Then we could add additional receive sites where they were needed, all linking back to Hyland. Each receiver could use a different PL tone and the users could select which ever receiver was closest to them. The Hyland Hill site provided excellent coverage, and it would be a shame to loose that. So....as of right now 5/6/2000, that's the plan.
As of a couple weeks ago, Len - WA1UNN - has taken multiple trips up the hill. Mostly because we had a bunch of electrical storms roll through the area. The first trip was because all of a sudden, Nobody could get into the repeater. It "sort of" responded to being called on the telephone line, but wouldn't accept any commands except acknowledge that the phone was answered and hung up. The next trip was because we lost the TX. It could be heard, but just barely. It would just about break squelch, and that was less than half a mile, line of sight......Not good. So Len waved his magic wand over the 'ole box, yet once again, and breathed some more life into it. Also, GREAT NEWS, one of the users was persistent enough to keep bugging equipment owners that share the building with the repeater and low and behold, it was discovered that a lo-band transmitter was pretty nasty, you might say it was "state of the art" as it sure was transmitting "spread spectrum", which was mixing with the garbage pump - mentioned above - and creating all sorts of hate and discontent. Well, now our interference is pretty much cleared up. It hears pretty well again. Of course this didn't happen before all the remote receiver equipment was purchased and delivered awaiting installation.......So, looks like we're still going to install it, but our plan of attack has changed.
The licensing is still in progress. The first attempt at filing for a secondary club call got kicked back by the FCC for lack of a piece of information on the application. This caused us to loose about a months time or a little more, but the new application has been submitted and we're just waiting - again - for that to be processed. We're expecting that to be done any day now.
Update 9/14/2000On September 5, 2000, the callsign of the repeater was changed to K1TQY. The license was issued to the CCDX ARC a few weeks prior to the change. The delay was caused because the change required a trip up the hill. Typically this would be done over the phone line but, it seems the sometime over the summer, the phone line became full of water, which has been an on-going problem, and the autopatch wouldn't work. The second problem was because this change came when the phone company was on strike, so we couldn't get the phone line repaired - they still managed to get the bills out though.... Now after the phone line was fixed - sort of - it still isn't right, we discovered that during the time it wasn't working, lightening got the autopatch board inside the controller, apparently, water conducts electricity - go figure.... so we're now in the process of tracking down parts for an obsolete controller that nobody really supports now. Yes, we could have made the change "over the air", but the touch-tone decoder isn't reliable because we're still getting hammered with interference.
Len, WA1UNN went up the hill again sometime between 9/5 and 9/19 - I can't remember, and made another adjustment to the repeater. He lowered the TX output slightly because it had been determined that the repeater's output was also part of a mixing interference problem, and this was another test to try and solve the problem. That helped a lot! There still was a little interference, but not too bad.
On both Saturday and Sunday, Nov 11th & 12th, crews gathered for a brush cutting detail at the repeater site. Part of the site rental agreement, is that the Amateurs keep the towers clear of debris. Also on Sunday, Len, WA1UNN and Joel, WA1ZYX spent most of the day working on the repeater. The autopatch was repaired after several months and now works just fine again, and we began installing the remote receiver equipment on the Hyland end. The next wave of projects will be to finish that and get the 220 and 440 links back on-line. There seems to be a problem with the PL encoder that is common to both, so that shouldn't be a real big deal - unless of course the ACC RC-850's serial outputs are hosed. None the less, great progress has begun!
On Saturday, Dec 02, Len and I (ZedYX) went up the hill - yet once again. This was hopefully the last trip until spring. The remote receiver project is now complete and operational. Basically, what this means is that if we find a hole that we need to fill in for HT access, or a temporary set up, we can set up a cross-band repeater, go in on the usual 2m input freq (146.205), use a different PL tone and link up to Hyland on UHF to come back out on the normal 146.805. One of the things that we discovered is we really need to go through the repeater and set audio levels. I have been wanting to get the links going again, but didn't really know what the trouble was, so I brought those back up and reinstalled them. They work, but I have found the PL tone output level to be too low for most repeaters. No problem, that's an easy fix. The output power of the repeater was turned back up. We had it up over 100 watts, so we turned it down to about 80.
On another note, we (CCDX) now have all the money from donations, set up bank accounts to handle that and of course, we get all the bills now. Oh well, gotta take the bad with the good.
As everybody knows by now, at least around here, is that our site rental for Hyland Hill has DOUBLED! Negotiations (read groveling) to the landlord failed, and they're still planning on charging us the 100% increase. So, bottom line is that I told them we'd be leaving in the Spring. Now the good news - No, make that GREAT news - is that we're going to be remaining on Hyland Hill, in the Mutual Aid building on their towers. We were approved for the move, unanimously I might add, by the SWFMA (SouthWest Fire Mutual Aid) board of directors. The kudos we recently received from the City of Keene and Keene Police Department for our assistance with parking and traffic communications didn't hurt either. Thanks Dale N1NCI, for presenting the proposal to the board!! Other recent changes to the repeater are that we dumped the AT&T (or whatever their name is this week) long distance carrier on the phone line to save a few bucks there. With all the cell phones out there now, no sense in us footing the bill for phone calls. Local calls only (Keene area) can still be made however.
Things that are going to be happening probably in the Spring...
One of the first projects to be done, is that the repeater is going to be physically removed from the current building and tower and moved to the new building. While we're doing that, we're going to completely overhaul the repeater. All audio and rf levels will be set. The 220 link antenna will be replaced with the new one that we already have. The backup batteries are going to need to be replaced as well. Plans are - at least right now - are to put up a temporary repeater, very basic, bare bones, while we're redoing "Henry".
The first phase of the repeater relocation went fairly smoothly. If all goes well, we'll have the main repeater back on the hill before the end of June 2001. Rather than duplicate my typing, please visit the Repeater Moving - part 1, page for further details.
In the very beginning of June 2002, a very severe electrical storm raged through the Monadnock region and lightning struck Hyland Hill, damaging numerous radio systems, including Fire radios, Police radios, Paging outfits, County equipment, and "Henry". Lightning made a direct hit on a StationMaster antenna for the Fire radio which was next to the Repeater antenna. The picture below just doesn't do the damage that was done, justice... but you'll see that the antenna has some nasty black marks and resembled a white bottle brush...
Actually seeing the top portion of "what's left" better shows what happened. The point being, we're in serious trouble now, because the controller (ACC RC850) is blown beyond all repair, and we don't know about the actual radios yet. The temporary repeater is on the hill now until we get things up and running again, but it won't be for a while.
Okay, so it's been a while since I've updated this page... but the latest news flash is that "Henry" has been hit by lightning - again!! Dale N1NCI made a trip up Hyland Hill to take a quick look at things, and preliminary findings are that the 7K controller is okay - we think, it powers up, resets okay and initial ID's just fine, the trouble is, the transmitter remains continuously keyed. So, Dale and Joel WA1ZYX are headed back up the hill in the morning to take a closer look.
As promised, Dale and Joel went up Hyland to try and get the repeater back on the air. The first test was to plug things back in and see what happens, sniff for smoke, listen for snaps, crackles and pops, etc... The controller came up just fine. Initialized, ID'ed itself and then went into normal idle state. We then plugged in the MSR2000, and it went right into transmit, even though the 7K didn't appear to be telling it to. Joel disconnected the 7K from the MSR and it was still transmitting - okay, we've narrowed down the problem to the radio. We opened up the cabinet and pulled out the "station control card" (For those that are Motorola literate, you'll know exactly what we're talking about). The radio then stopped transmitting. HEY - That's a good thing! Those cards are about $5 bucks for a wheel barrow full. Just for kicks, Joel re-connected the 7K, and wouldn't you know it? We didn't need that card anyway! It worked just fine! Back in business..... Except for the CDM1250 UHF remote base radio. That too went into full-time transmit as soon as power was applied with nothing else connected to it. Oh well. At least the primary repeater functions okay. We'll get the remote base radio fixed. The satellite receiver radio was fine too.
On another note, while we were working on "Henry", Dale got a phone call from dispatch at SouthWest Fire. Seems "channel-D" was out. So now we began working on that problem. To make a long story short, we found the link radio and the tone remote card had been zapped. So after swapping those two devises out and a couple audio level adjustments later, that was back on the air. Now the primary "415" fire radio antenna - that was a different story all together.... Pictures to follow. Yup, you guessed it, another fuzzy white pipe cleaner... Or what was left of it...
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Friday, March 18, 2005 03:02 PM