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Saturday, May 21, 2016

County, Ham Radio Operators Hash out Rules for Emergency Situations

This is an interesting article about the Wichita County Hams working out how they will handle their emergency weather nets. The wording in this write up is a little ambiguous but they have decided to have "controlled nets" rather than "closed nets. However, later in the article they explain that 

"if  unofficial storm chasers are disrupting official business, then law enforcement can be called in to deal with the situation."

I'm not sure what form of disrupting traffic they are experiencing, but that sounds a lot like a closed net. I imagine that some people get annoyed with rain reports from hams that are miles away from a tornado, but discouraging reports seem to be a fast path to discouraging people. Locally, we can use all the help we can get. Judging from the wording of the policy, they have a need as well.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Monday, March 14, 2016

442.300 Repeater Update

It has been a while since the last post on Texas Ham Radio, so I thought an update on the 442.3 repeater would be a good idea.

The current configuration is the Yaesu Fusion repeater running on low power into a 35w RCA TacTec Amplifier into the Celwave duplexers. Directly after the duplexers is 11 feet of  RG-214 coax. This is Mil-C-17 Spec, double shielded with silver braid and solid silver center coax. Expensive at almost $5 per foot, but provided the least amount of rejected power over going directly to the 1/2" heliax. After the RG-214 is an MFJ Lightning arrestor. This will be replaced with a PolyPhaser soon. After the arrestor is the 1/2" heliax (170' coiled up) that runs to the DB-420b on top of a 55' crank up tower.

In the current configuration the repeater output is 5w into the amp and 30w out at the heliax. A loss of 5w seems pretty good with all the UHF connectors still in use. 

I have acquired 100' of Rohn 45 that I will be installing to replace the 55' crank up.  Currently, the range of the repeater is very limited. The extra height should add some much needed distance to the repeater coverage area.

The repeater is running in full auto mode allowing digital and analog communications. Several other repeaters are in the surrounding counties and are running AMS/FIX, which takes all signals and converts them to analog on the repeater output. Once more people get Fusion radios, I expect they will go full AMS as well.

If you are traveling through Henderson, tune in and give us a shout.
442.300 +5 Mhz with a PL tone of 131.8

Monday, February 8, 2016

RCARC offering a Tech license course in April. This is a great opportunity for anyone that woukd like to get their license. Also, anyone 18 years old or younger will get a free handheld radio from RCARC.

Friday, November 20, 2015

We're Amateurs, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be professional.

I finally got around to putting my 20m double bazooka back up after we used it for Field Day. Needless to say, it's been a while since I chased DX. So once the antenna was up, I had to spin the knob a while. Right away I saw a Ghana station on the DX Cluster and went right there.

I was appalled at the stations tuning up, using partial call signs, calling when the DX station didn't call them and calling while another station was talking to the DX station.  It made me wonder if they took the same exam I did to get my ticket? I could have sworn that was covered in the material.

 In the end, I left the circus and snagged S79C running a DXpedition in Seychelles instead. 

So, here's the link for the DX Code of Conduct. Please pass this along so that others will remember that just because they call us Amateurs, doesn't mean that we shouldn't be professional.

DX Code Of Conduct

  • I will listen, and listen, and then listen again before calling.
  • I will only call if I can copy the DX station properly.
  • I will not trust the DX cluster and will be sure of the DX station's call sign before calling.
  • I will not interfere with the DX station nor anyone calling and will never tune up on the DX frequency or in the QSX slot.
  • I will wait for the DX station to end a contact before I call.
  • I will always send my full call sign.
  • I will call and then listen for a reasonable interval. I will not call continuously.
  • I will not transmit when the DX operator calls another call sign, not mine.
  • I will not transmit when the DX operator queries a call sign not like mine.
  • I will not transmit when the DX station requests geographic areas other than mine.
  • When the DX operator calls me, I will not repeat my call sign unless I think he has copied it incorrectly.
  • I will be thankful if and when I do make a contact.
  • I will respect my fellow hams and conduct myself so as to earn their respect. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

NU5G Fusion Repeater is on the air!

442.3 +5 with a PL tone of 131.8 

It wasn't exactly plug-and-play, but the NU5G Fusion repeater is on the air in Henderson, Texas. Right out of the box the touch screen would not work right. The black decorative faceplate on front of the case was putting pressure on the screen. When touched, it would sometimes work and not others. Putting shims between the plastic plate and main case over night and then adding spacers made it function properly. Once the screen was working it only took a few minutes to perform the set up.   

The next problem was the Motorola duplexers were not ample enough and there was about 6.5 db of desense. A little wheeling and dealing produced a set of 6 can Celwave duplexers from another ham here in the area. 

The new duplexers have 100 db isolation at 2 MHz minimum separation and rated at 250w. Transmit uses 1 band-pass and 1 reject cavity. Receive uses 2 band-pass and 2 reject cavities. The connectors were all different (picture shows lossy adaptors) and it took a few days to get everything sorted out, but she's good to go now.

It is in full auto mode and running the internal controller.

Here is a picture of the inside of the repeater. From what I ave seen in previous posts, they have added a switching power supply and a larger heat sink on the TX side. There is a foam insert that causes the air flow from both fans to go across the heat sink.

 The DB-420b is fed by Andrews 1/2" Heliax and is on the 55' crank up at my QTH. The range is limited by the height, but stations from Laneville and Tyler have given good reports.

If you're in the Henderson area, give us a shout!

NU5G Repeater in Henderson, Texas
442.3 +5 with a PL tone of 131.8 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

442.300 Repeater Update

Progress on the 442.300 repeater has been real good. We still need some elevation to make this machine worth while, but plans are in the works to move it soon. Also, working out all the issues with the repeater in my shack is much better than running to a tower site multiple times. 

I purchased an Id-O-Matic IV and replaced the version II controller. The IV connects via USB and also has a voice module. The IV has many more features during programming and future firmware updates are easy to apply.

I had my daughter record the beacon and ID message. Here's a quick video of me kerchunking the repeater.


I did some work for a local communications company and received some gear in trade for my services. The first item was 180' of Andrews 1/2" Heliax. My tower is only 55' tall and the shack is about 40' away so the rest of the heliax is coiled up inside. This was a great addition and helped reduce the loss over the RG-8x that I was using.

 The next barter item is the crown jewel of the repeater. Pictured is the DB-420b antenna. This is a 16 bay antenna with a gain of 11.3 dBi.

Took some work to get on top of the tower, but well worth the effort.

Another barter item was this Astron RM-35m power supply mounted above the Tait repeater.

Decided that I had better get the 131.8 hz tone added to the repeater so I borrowed an EPROM eraser from a friend and bought a burner off of Amazon. I was able to program the tone in, but put off wiring audio 2 through the RX to the TX until later.

Meanwhile, the application for Yaesu's System Fusion DR-1X was approved by Yaesu. So, in the next 4 to 8 weeks I expect to receive the Fusion repeater and will give an unboxing video and another update.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

442.300 repeater is up and running.

After several months of slow progress, the 442.300 repeater is on the air in Henderson. This repeater is a Tait rack with the T855-20 receiver, T857-20 exciter and T859-20 PA. Recently added is the Motorola TLE2351A 250w Duplexer and an ID-O-Matic controller. I used some aluminum tube stock that was laying around to mount on for now. The frequency coordination with Texas VHF-FM Society was only about a two day turn around.

The repeater is located at my shack and is on my 55' crank up tower. I recently added a 20' pipe which puts the center of the Diamond fiberglass antenna around 80'. It is working well for the limited height and for the crap coax and dual Diamond. My biggest joy, other than getting her working, was being able to work the repeater from inside our local Wal-Mart - typically a dead zone.

The 2k trim pot was loose in the 859 and at one time someone tried to heat it up and set it from the top of the PCB. Evidence was in the form of a large melted spot in the shape of a soldering iron. The heat job froze the pot at 700 Ohms. A close friend of mine, KN5G, gave me a trim pot which I damaged shortly after the install. New ones are on the way and I'm using a 20k for now that is tucked under the cover. Adjustment of the 20k pot was rough but she's running at 55w into the duplexer and 42w out to the antenna. I somewhat understand why they tried heating it from the front, because the tear down and rebuild took me over 3 hours.

Eventually, we will have to find this machine a new home with some altitude and fine tune it for that site. For now we'll run her as she sits. 

So if you're traveling through Henderson, tune to 442.300 (+ 5MHz) - no PL tone and say hello! 

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