Saturday, June 8, 2002

Clayton Repeater Site 6/8/02

On 6/8/02, more work was done at the Clayton repeater site...mostly work/upgrades to the antenna systems. The folks out at the site were Steve KD4WIW, Jay KQ4MS, Reg W4REG, Ron K4JDR, and Dave WB4IUY. I took a few pictures while up the tower, to give some of you a better feel for what things look like at 200 feet above the ground, while standing on a piece of Rohn 25 tower... Here are 10 photos for your enjoyment:

This is a shot looking down at the ground from about 190 feet. Notice KQ4MS's truck (rh side) and Ron K4JDR's truck (LH side). The white antenna is used by the new K4JDR 444.150 pl 100hz repeater, and partially shared by the W4RAL-4 145.01 packet node.

Here's a picture of the 147.39 repeater antenna mounted on the top of the tower at 200'. Boy, the sky was nice and blue!


Here's a picture, taken through the tower, of the south side of Clayton. Whew, the birds love this tower, check out the white stuff. It was EVERYWHERE!

This picture is a bit farther south, shot through the tower at a different angle. The vertical tubing in the picture is part of a low-band 3-bay array that will soon be part of the 10 meter repeater's receiver system. This should dramatically improve the repeaters ability to receive weak signals on 29.520. 

This picture is of the water tower at hwy 42 and I-40's intersection...probably 10+ miles away. Visibility was pretty darn good from up there!

Hey Ron!!!! Hehehehe....there's Ron K4JDR at the bottom of the tower, looking up to help get the alignment correct of a bracket I was working on.


Waaaaaaayyyyyyy down there are two motorcycles... They are Steve KD4WIW and Dave WB4IUY's bikes. We rode those to the job. It was such a nice day out, it was a shame to waste it by riding in a steel cage!!


Here's a picture shot across the western edge of Clayton and towards Garner. Man, it's beautiful country to view from up there!

Here, I'm looking back down at the tower crew. Wow, they sure do look to be a loonnnggggggggg ways down there! Are they really people, or just bugs??

 This last picture is of the buildings in south Raleigh. I screwed the telephoto lens on for this shot, to help you see them better. The big towers on the left are channel 5 and others in the Aubern area.

After this work was done, the W4RAL-4 packet BBS node and the 444.150 pl 100 UHF repeater were returned to service. We rode out motorcycles (with KQ4MS in tow in his truck) over to Jimmy K4CMH's house to look at his tower work (to be done), and finally on to WA4MJF's shack to climb the tower and make an adjustment to the W4RAL-5 BPQ switch yagi. Twas a good day for antenna work, indeed! 



Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Construction of the new 147.39 Rptr #3

A new 147.39 repeater is under construction for TEARA, and is on the air in 'test mode' at the time of this writing. Temporarily located near Rolesville, in the shop of WB4IUY, the new repeater is already getting signal reports and some activity from area amateurs. The following pages will contain a growing list of images for you to view. At the right is a picture of Steve KD4WIW, installing some of the terminal strips to be used to interconnect the controller to external devices.

Above is a picture of Tim Richards, as he completes the assembly of the Digital Voice Recorders. These are used to store various messages for the repeater in real human voice.

Tim (R) is installing a set of connections for the backup battery power input. The repeater will be fitted with a system that will change the courtesy tone and reduce output power when operating from emergency power. Steve KD4WIW (L) is working on the mounting brackets for the repeater controller 


The new repeater, sitting atop the HUGE Wacom duplexer. The duplexer is designed to handle high power, and should handle about anything we can afford to throw at it. Excuse the engineering department at usual, it is in a state of flux from several projects underway at once.

Here's another shot of the new repeater, with a myriad of wires and connections hanging all about. This phase is necessary, as _nothing_ ever works as one would expect. Also, it's always necessary to pull pieces of the repeater out for adjustments and debugging.

Here's a quick shot of other repeater projects underway. The gray cabinet is part of the new 442.300+ repeater, which will serve as the backbone for the 29.62 (10 meter) and 53.07 (6 meter) repeaters. The repeater in the bottom right of the photo is the 224.80 repeater. The next farthest assembly on the workbench is the 29.620 repeater transmitter and linking equipment (now on the air from my shop). On the distant workbench, just beyond and to the left of the gray cabinet, is the 10 meter repeater's receiver and linking equipment (also running from the shop for testing)  

The photo above is of the repeater as it continues to progress towards it's completed state. It was operational at the time of this photo. Here, you can see the two digital voice announcers (in white) installed in the rack, new blowers up high atop the PA's heat sinks, and a RCA test unit (sitting on the duplexer, along side of the repeater) connected for measurements.

Here, the repeater was online, retransmitting a local user, and operating at about 55 watts from the duplexer and into the antenna. With about 3db of duplexer loss, the transmitter would have to produce about 110 watts to get this much usable power from the cavities.

Here's a better picture of the digital voice announcers, and the S-Com 6K controller (far down in black).

Considerable testing was performed on the repeater's receiver sensitivity, when in "repeat" mode. The receiver was very sensitive, but would often become desensitized when the transmitter was online. Lots of testing was performed on the duplexers, transmitter, exciter, etc, in an effort to isolate the problem. Finally, it became apparent that the transmitter was intermittently generating wide band noise and exhibiting some instability in tuning. Here's the repeater, awaiting PA surgery...

Late in the night of 4/4, I decided to replace the transmitter's PA (power amplifier) assembly. On 4/5, Steve KD4WIW and I met to formulate a plan and decide what we'd use for the PA. We were all set to pull the entire RCA transmitter (exciter) and PA, and replace it with a 100 watt Motorola Micor (requiring the modification of the Micor, a lot of hardware and electrical modifications, etc) when we were able to locate an exact replacement RCA Series 1000 power amplifier. Here's Tim salvaging the replacement PA from another radio, to be transplanted into the repeater...

Steve, Tim, and I began work on 4/5 around 7pm, and by about 11:30pm, a new power amplifier was installed and tuned. The wide band noise problem is now non-existent, and the repeater rx/tx performance in "repeat mode" is what we were hoping for. Here's Tim (L) and Steve (R) transplanting the new PA board into the repeater. That's NO SMALL FEAT on a RCA Series 1000 PA!

Here, the last jumpers and connections were being made by Steve KD4WIW on the new PA board. After alignment, the PA was making better than 100 watts

Here's a shot of part of the control system, including the refurbished S-Com 6k controller (black rack mount case in the bottom of the photo). Just above the 6k is part of the original RCA interconnect panel, and two Interalia Digital Voice recorders (in white at the top of the photo). The Interalia DVR's were originally used by the phone company to store messages. They were repaired from salvage and modified for use in our repeater application 

This is a picture of the new DC blowers added to the repeater. By using DC blowers powered from the main 12vdc buss, the repeater will receive adequate cooling even in the event of operation from backup battery power. Two blowers are attached to the PA (large heat sink), and one blower is attached to the power control regulator bank (small heat sink).

This is a picture of the new cooling fans from the back side of the repeater. The fan on the extreme left actually passes some air down the backside of the rack, providing additional cooling to the power control board (seen here as a light beige pc board)

Here, Steve KD4WIW is completing the installation of new back up batteries for the DVR's, and cleaning up the debugged control wiring for the controller/DVR interface

A Radio Shack talking clock is being gutted and modified to provide remote time of day announcements over the repeater. The repeater will automatically 'speak' the time of day at the top of the hour. In addition, users will have an access code allowing the time of day announcement to be requested at will.

Another talking function being interfaced to the repeater is the initial ID'r. The initial ID is usually the first message to be played when the repeater is 'awakened' from sleep. This is being built from the electronics originally used in a talking greeting card by Hallmark. You can see the insides of the greeting card here, with the tiny light green PC board being the voice storage module to be removed and interfaced tot he repeater. This module has an estimated memory life of over 100 years!



147.39 Repeater #3 Online!

On 5/21/2002, the newly assembled 147.39+ repeater was installed in Clayton and back on the air. This is from the old website...

'WB4IUY repeater in Clayton, NC. PL 88.5' is the voice of WB4IUY heard on this repeater every 10 minutes (when in service). This repeater is sponsored by the Triangle East Amateur Radio Association (TEARA). The repeater is located on private property, just south of Clayton near hwy 42 west. 

This picture on the right is the repeater (in the gray and beige enclosure), sitting atop the new repeater and node enclosure at the Clayton NC site. It is constructed in a RCA series 1000 repeater cabinet, and uses an RCA receiver and exciter strip. The PA is from a GE MastrII, the power supply is largly homebrew, and the interstage amplifier (between the exciter and PA) is a modified Aerotron Mpac module. An ARR GaAsFet receiver preamplifier is installed internally to improve weak signal performance. The controller is a refurbished SCOM 6K, rebuilt from parts of two controllers previously destroyed by lightning, and updated to include a digital delay to help hide squelch bursts. The digital voice announcers were built by Interalia and have been modified to include large capacity outboard battery backup. These Interalia units previously served time in the telephone industry. The repeater has 3 additional dc blowers installed to keep things cool during long transmissions. Circuitry was added to include CTCSS encode/decode for linking and interference control. A motorola UHF Micor was used for remote control and linking via RF.

This is an open repeater, although it may require a sub-audible tone of 88.5 hz for access on occasion. This is necessary to control unintentional interference generated by commercial sources as well as that which occurs during band openings. Several cavity filters are required to maintain control of the repeater and minimize interference from local hi-powered paging systems and commercial repeaters, as well as reduce the receiver desense caused by the high levels of RF from local co-located systems on a local broadcast tower. Some of these cavity filters are shown in the picture to the left.

This repeater also shares it's feedline and antenna system with the W4RAL-4 BBS node. This photo shows parts of the mixing network that was designed to allow the voice repeater on 147.39/99 and a digital node on 145.01 to co-habitate the same site sucessfully.

This repeater replaces the previous GE MastrPro repeater, described in the link info contained HERE. Being in a high spot, this tower is a regular attraction for lightning strikes. The previous repeater was destroyed by lightning, and this machine has been rebuilt from the ground up since it's destruction during the spring of 1997. The next photo to the right is a picture of the repeater with it's front panel removed, exposing the programming ports of the voice announcers and other components. That's Steve KD4WIW in the rear of the repeater, after having just installed a fresh batch of PolyPhaser lightning protection devices into the repeater's feedline. We DON'T want to rebuild this any time soon!!

 The tower structure is about 200 feet tall, and the repeater antenna occupies the top perch. The repeater's primary antenna is a Sinclair 4 bay dipole array fed through about 300' of 1 5/8" Andrews heliax. The Clayton site is about 335 feet above sea level, and the antenna is about 535 feet above sea level!

The photo below shows the tower structure. At the very top is the repeater's Sinclair 4-bay dipole array. You can view some pictures taken from the top of this tower by clicking HERE!