March ARES Meeting (March 23, 2017)

The agenda for our March ARES Meeting has changed due to new information from our state ARES Coordinator. Instead of the meeting being on Digital Modes we will now be discussing and planning for a state-wide exercise that will be held Saturday, April 15th, between 8:00-10:00am. We’ll discuss our group’s plans and how we can participate next Thursday night at the meeting. Digital Modes will be moved to the April meeting (April 27th).

Here’s the general info about the event:

April 15th   8:00 AM to 10:00AM

Spring 2017:  Rapid Response Saturday Drill

ARES ECs, DECs, Leadership,

A quick thumbnail of the spring exercise discussed at the most recent BirminghamFest.

Essentially the drill is a “Check In” event giving operators a chance to test their mobile and portable capabilities by operating remotely, or if they choose to simply check in with those remote operators to confirm coverage, signal strength, etc.  Each county EC is advised to set up a mobile Incident Command System (ICS) location and assign a Net Control Station (NCS).  The EC will dispatch other operators wishing to deploy may select locations that may have potential as a shelter location, remote ICS location, or other outdoor spot that can afford them the chance to test their equipment, skills and operating modes.

Many operators have “Go-kits” that include a complete portable station with emergency power supplies (batteries or generators, or both) radios, antennas, feed lines, etc. to operate away from home.  Operators are encouraged to use this drill to determine what they would put in their “Go-kits” for the next real world emergency.  There is no right answer to what should be included, every Go-Kit is a personal reflection of the operator(s) who put it together.

I suggested that ECs make the final determination for their locations.  We recommended an operating window of 8:00 to 10:00 AM.

VHF calling frequency 146.520 will be the primary frequency, and we encourage operators with HF equipment to also use the 3.965 and 7.243 frequencies to attempt contact with other stations outside their operating county.

I encourage you to work together, make it fun, and use this as a learning experience.  All feedback is welcomed and most of it will be read.

Brad, K4NHA

Improvements to the 146.90 Repeater

The 146.90 repeater has been plagued with problems for quite some time. Recently thanks to a grant the club received we were able to replace several key components and alleviate almost all of the old problems that have been around for years.

The original Kenwood TKR-750 VHF repeater was found to be damaged and was only able to output around 20 watts on high instead of the 50 watts it should be capable of. This problem combined with a duplexer that was physically damaged, possibly by lightning, we were only seeing a mere 8-12 watts out of the duplexer. Inside one of the cavities the adjustment rod had become unattached from the tuning rod. We attempted to repair this but later found that the beryllium material inside the tuning shaft had also been damaged as well.

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The repeater has since been replaced with a Yaesu DR1-X that is operating in both analog FM and C4FM digital modes. The duplexer was replaced with a brand new Telewave 4 cavity model since the old duplexer could not be repaired or tuned. The feed line and antenna were also checked. After the upgrade the repeater’s coverage expanded greatly and is now covering the majority of Jackson County and being used and heard in two other states and at least 9 other counties. Below are the before and after simulations of the repeater’s coverage. The current simulation is very much on par with real-world tests and reports.

Before Upgrades (pre-2016)
Before Upgrades (pre-2016)
After Upgrades (2016)
After Upgrades (2016)
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After Upgrades Satellite View (2016)

Shortly after completing the new hardware replacement JCAR has installed internet at the site to facilitate the return of Echolink, IRLP, and other internet linking capabilities. Along with the internet Jackson County now has an APRS Digipeater and iGate once again running under the JCAR callsign K4SCO. Currently work is underway to add an Arcom RC210 controller to the repeater which will allow the addition of the internet and VoIP services along with RF linking to other sites and a remote base radio.

APRS Digipeater/iGate running through an FT-2900
APRS Digipeater/iGate running through an FT-2900

 

147.36 Power Supply Damage

I finally had a chance to open up the 147.36 repeater’s power supply that failed a couple of weeks ago and didn’t have to look far for the reason of the failure. The cause is still undetermined but the damage is easy to spot. The power supply was still functioning and could support the repeater however when the link radio and UHF amp were brought up it couldn’t handle it. ~K4NHA

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2016 Jackson County Fair

The annual Jackson County Fair is coming up, September 6th through the 10th at the VFW Fairgrounds in Scottsboro Alabama. Be sure to come by our booth and check out what’s happening in Amateur Radio and Emergency Communications! If you are interested in becoming a HAM we’ll have all the materials necessary to help you get your license and get on the air! Check out our Get Licensed! page for more details and enjoy some pictures from last year.

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