REPEATER WORK (current)
REPEATER WORK (2015)
REPEATER WORK (2014)
REPEATER WORK (2013)
REPEATER WORK (2011)
REPEATER WORK (2010)
REPEATER WORK (2000 - 2010)
REPEATER WORK (1975 - 1999)
A record of trips to/work at various repeater sites by PEARS members or helpers (reverse time order)
|20 December||ZR2SDL||ZS2AAW, ZR2JH||
An attempt to elevate the 5GHz wifi antenna and clear the trees between St Albans and Lady's Slipper. Made use of a surplus telephone pole found on site. Jacques installed two parallel clamps and erected the antenna pole as-is on top of the existing wood pole. Scans found signals at -88 to -91 dBM, not good enough for a reliable connection.
Signals from Slipper seem below expected, as also found at other sites, so some investigation at the mountain end will be required in the new year.
ZR2SDL Wifi signal search
UHF Links replaced
Glen very kindly agreed to take the two repaired UHF links back to site and re-install them on his way through to Mthatha. Tests were done to PE, from Baziya UHF as well, and all appeared to be working fine.
Glen has the first of 10 "Repeater Keys"...
UHF Link - no audio to Cradock
Jacques very kindly investigated the lack of TX audio on the UHF link. He found a ruptured electrolytic cao on the Link TX Audio board, and unfortunately could not find a suitable component to replace on site, so the link was returned to PE for repairs
Mountain was totally covered in cloud on the day
UHF link to Cradock (LHS) and VHF Storno repeater (RHS)
The VHF Receiver antenna is passed through an aluminium home-brew pass-reject filter to remove the unwanted VHF transmitter content...
...and the VHF Transmitter is "cleaned up" through a Cavity resonator before reaching the TX antenna
TX Audio Card Schematic
UHF Link towards Lady's Slipper faulty
The repaired Storno UHF link towards Lady's Slipper failed again. Once more the oven was cold, and the 438.700 MHz link RX was more than 10kHz high in Frequency. To get the site up and running for the Garden Route Rally and all stations mobiling to the Southern Cape, I merely re-adjusted the RX Osc with a cold oven, back onto frequency, there was JUST enough travel on the trimmers.
A replacement oven will be fitted at a future date, clearly the dry solder joint is still there somewhere.
Return ZS0NTP BBS PC to site
The Slipper PC was returned to site, after a reboot lock-up problem was corrected at home. All TNC's were re-connected and APRS is once again functioning on the iGate as well.
However, it was noticed that the HF traveling wave antenna has suffered some wind damage, and needs a new aluminium cross-member near the apex. The centre conductor is hanging on the balun feed...
HF Antenna - broken cross-member
Return UHF Link towards Lady's Slipper
The repaired Storno UHF link towards Lady's
Slipper was re-installed on site. The RX Frequency error was a faulty
crystal oscillator oven, which was resoldered and returned to
Tests to 7750 (Plett) replied OK
Kareedouw repeater site - the white container and small structure
Workshop tests/repairs to the Nqamakwe
UHF Link to Mt Kempt:
UHF Link to Baziya:
TX powers all set to 2W out of the multiplier (yes, these are really OLD Storno's!!!)
|9 October||Butterworth Repeater (near Nqamakwe)||ZS2AAW||
Investigate the "missing link"!
Repeater and links appear to be off the air.
Butterworth repeater site - grey meter cabinets outside the Eskom container
Turns out that the repeater is still transmitting, but getting infinite SWR into the VHF Duplexer cans. Only one watt into the Antenna coax, but 20W direct out of the transmitter. Further fiddling reveals a bad connection on the TX filter harness somewhere. Now it transmits with 15W into the antenna coax, so much better. Some desense is still evident, so the cans need a spectrum analyser & tracking generator to be realigned properly. Transmit and Receive parameters on the repeater all fine.
VHF Repeater and Duplexer
The UHF links however are both faulty and had to be removed for checks in the workshop. No transmit power whatsoever out of either of them. The receivers are still alive though.
UHF Links to Mt Kempt (LHS) and Baziya (RHS), power supply below
SWR tests into all antennas are perfect. Labels were made and added to the Heliax feeders, tripswitches and link positions to facilitate replacement by non-amateur persons when they are returned.
A new set of CISA padlocks were fitted on site, all with the Repeater Working Group standard key, and engraved with "Amateur Radio" and my cell phone number. One in the gate chain, and one in each cabinet. So now non-Eskom personnel can access the ham equipment for maintenance and test purposes. A copy of the key is also left inside the Eskom building so that Eskom technicians can access the ham equipment cabinets if necessary.
New padlocks with single key to be standardised on throughout the Eastern and Southern Cape
Link to Mt
Link to Baziya
|4 September||Lady's Slipper||ZS2AAW||
Remove PC - not booting up
ZS0NTP BBS PC started locking up and then refused to boot. It was removed from site because nothing came up on the screen at all after powering on.
The Icom IC718 was also removed along with the CIV interface box. The Motorola Micom-X HF set is installed in its place, set to 7.098MHz for Sunday morning bulletin patches. THis is controlled bt the PIC DTMF interface card, connected to port 3,
Motorla Micom-X HF rig for fixed-frequency patching
DTMF Control Codes:
|12 August||Mount Rd||ZS2RA, ZS2AAW||
Major Power Outage cleared
Port Elizabeth suffered a major outage when a transformer blew at Mount Road Load Centre. This left most of Newton Park, North End, Korsten, Central without power for all of Saturday. The Mount Rd repeater battery is shot, so the site went down at 08h17 Saturday. When mains weas restored, the repeater and link revived themselves, but the Wifi Node did not. This being due to the Wifi Equipment working on a mains inverter and 48 V POE supply. The inverter tripped out on low volts but when the volts rose back to 13.8V, it needed a power-off-on cycle to come alive. The site was visited briefly to do this reset just after 10h15 today
Trans-Baviaans Mountainbike Race - trackers
The two motorcycle trackers to be used to mark the lead and trailing competitors on the 2012 Trans-Baviaans Mountainbike Race are tested and ready to be couriered to the Race Start.
Assembled by ZS2AAW, they are based on the Tinytrak PIC chip, using ZS1AAZ's Tracom PCB's, a modified 16F84 PIC with smart beaconing code (as used by PEARS in the VW Rally). an Icom IC-U16T UHF handheld on 434.800MHz, a 1/4 wave UHF antenna with internal groundplane in the lid, a GSM mobile antenna and a GSM-based tracker with the same callsign. This means that where the motorcyclists are within Cell coverage, we will track them via GPRS, and when they disappear into the Baviaanskloof, we will continue to track them using specially installed digipeaters throughout the Baviaanskloof. When they emerge on the PE end of the kloof, it will be interesting to see which signal reaches the APRS I-Gates first - via UHF thru Lady's Slipper or via GPRS.
The dual-medium self-contained UHF/GPRS tracker
Antennas from Left: 2x GPS RX, 1/4 wave UHF (434.800MHz), GSM (GPRS)
Inside the lid: EZ10 GSM tracker unit, under the aluminium groundplane
Inside the box: Icom IC-U16T UHF handheld, Tinytrak Tracom PCB & PIC
BIKE-1 and BIKE-2 ready for despatch
|10 August||Longmore||ZS2NT, ZS2RA, ZS2AAW, Eugene, Kevin||
Install UHF Link antenna for Baviaanskloof
The tower work is all that was outstanding to commission this additional UHF link required for the following weekend's Trans-Baviaanskloof Mountain Bike Race. The UHF link chassis ahd been removed to fault find the channel change option, which was found to be a dry joint on the VCO EPROM board. It uses a multi-channel EPROM with all the UHF frequencies used throughout our Link System. In this case, we are using ch22 which is TX 431.025MHz and RX 438.625MHz, the channel used to activate ZS2GV's temporary repeater to be erected at Bergplaas to bounce signals into the Baviaanskloof.
It was decided to run a proper standard installation, and not use RG213 over the yard stones, as was done temprarily last year. Nick, ZS2NT and Eugene raised the 1/2" heliax feeder and secured to the tower while the link chassis was installed. ZS2AAW assisted Nick with the antenna mounting and making off the N-type connector up on the tower. VSWR tested perfect at 2W forward and hardly-a needle-move reverse power on UHF.
The additional UHF link and Digi were then disabled to conserve power drain, and thereby charge the batteries in the next few days of sunshine before the weekend's activities.
|3 August||ZS2DK||ZS2DK, ZS2CR, ZS2AAW||
Replace faulty rotator
Not all work happens on the mountain tops! Mitch requested assistance at height to replace a failed rotator with a refurbished one - both Ham IV models, which made the change that much easier - everything fitted!
The nicely refurbished rotator in place
Looking towards the bay
ZS2DK watching proceedings
The neighbourhood - not many chirps received from nieghbours today, (it was a Friday mid-afternoon, not a Sunday...!)
Glen, ZS2GV has "lurked" an unused equipment container for modification by some willing PEARS members. The intention is to add axle and wheels and get it roadworthied as a trailer, kitted out with HF, VHF UHF and PC equipment for use by the club on special events.
(Anyone with a spare Land Cruiser that fits beneath this container, feel free to donate it to the project so we can save on the axle and effort!)
|26 July||Lovemore Heights||ZS2GV, then later ZS2AAW||
D-Star Repeater commissioned
Glen was doing tower work in the morning, so he was asked to re-orientate the Folded Dipole antennas to point Northwards, to improve comms from this site towards the Eastern end of Port Elizabeth. The tower was shielding this area from the antennas when located to the West.
The PEARS D-Star repeater on loan from Multisource was switched on at its new home today. The repeater replaces the temporary 145.600 repeater erected at Lovemore Heights for the Ironman event in April. RF performance is unknown, as there is no antenna filtering, and two vertically spaced folded dipoles are being used.
The gateway PC is still under rebuild by Henning, ZS2HK, so the repeater is stand-alone. I am not even sure if it will operate as a repeater without the gateway PC connected - maybe there are configuration changes that need to be done to cater for the missing PC... However, the PEARS Wifi system exists at this site, and an ethernet switch was also commissioned today, to which the ID-RPC2 was connected directly, and if an ethernet tunnel is configured, ZS2HK could connect the gateway at is QTH to the controller at Lovemore and the D-Star system would be up and running without the PC even getting to Lovemore!
The PEARS WiFi tray with 48V
PSU and ethernet switch,
Rear view, with the heavy duty 12V leads
All nicely earthed...
UHF Link not functional
For some reason the UHF link towards PE was neither transmitting nor receiving any longer. It apepars that if the power is removed and restored, the channel select is not working unless changed up and back again to ch1 or ch2. Needs further investigation.
The UHF link modules for the Westward UHF link
were fitted, and the half-duplex modification to the Tait T800 rack was done
to ensure the RX is killed when in TX mode. A modified duplexer was
installed, so the rack is ready for action. Or is
The power-off relay was wired in, so that 62514 * or # will kill the surplus equipment power on site, to reduce battery load. This "surplus" equipment is the 434.800 APRS Digi, and the Westward UHF Link to be used for the Baviaanskloof.
The solar regulator was also connected in line with the load, so loadshedding can happen with low battery volts again, to save battery life.
15 July, Cradock Repeater
Picture posted by Donald, ZS2BW, showing what the mountain top looks like up there...
Note how iced up the Sentech tower is - this may give you an idea how dangerous it is to drive or just be near the base of that tower wthen huge chunks of ice start melting and falling to the ground... The ham repeater is to the left on the peak
|14 July||Lady's Slipper||No-one||
Repeater without power
Mains power interrupted amidst a huge wind and rain storm immediately after the Rally finished. ZS2X confirms many trees uprooted and power lines down. Will most likely be days before power is restored. Battery volts interrogation (70018) shows total discharge by Sunday morning, and the VHF repeater is off the air. However, the UHF link continues to operate on low output power. Will need to make a plan to isolate the batteries manually from the load. The BBS PC which runs on an inverter off 12V, is remotely powered down, as is the Mtorola HF set, but amazingly the wifi continues to operate, along with the UHF link
|12 July||Longmore Repeater via 650 Town, then home via Lady's Slipper||ZS2AE, ZS2AAW||
Charge batteries, install PIC DTMF control card
Rally preparations for bad weather meant getting to site today to charge the 300Ah batteries, and add another two 100Ah batteries on loan from Glen ZS2GV. The trip started via Mount Road to collect the PIC DTMF Control Card as fitted there, to use at Longmore to enable the link to be disconnected, and the channel changed remotely, since it is easier and closer to do this manually at Mount Road, than Longmore.
First job, get the generator running, Glen's 30A PSU connected, and those batteries on charge...
Then, install the other two batteries, connected via another circuit breaker in case of trouble...
The two batteries in black plastic boxes, with the charger clipped onto the old batteries
Next job - install
Power relay & breakers, PIC interface card, VHF Kyodo repeater
Multi-channel UHF link (to Slipper or Town), new link chassis for TBMR
Digipeater on 434.800 for Rally and Trans-baviaans APRS. Below that, an unused mains PSU (this site is yet to be connected to mains power)
A closer look at the UHF Link reveals a modified thumbwheel switch panel, with toggle and two LED's - this interfaces to Allan, ZS2R's PIC controller, where a binary state on two output lines selects the first three channels on the UHF link by means of DTMF commands. A very useful feature, as now the UHF link can be set to couple to 438.650 or 438.700 remotely.
Remote channel select mods, with isolate switch to go back to manual mode...
Repeater Control Codes:
The trip home was via Lady's Slipper where the squelch control was tightened up to eliminate the noisy lockup caused by wifi interaction with the VHF repeater transmitter.
|6 July||Town Repeater||ZR2JH, ZS2AAW||
Change antenna, refit 650 repeater
A brand new Co-linear VHF antenna was fitted by Jacques. The original coax (LMR400) was re-connected while Jacques was up the tower, and the UHF Digi coax was re-connected to the UHF dipole, so all feeders back to normal. (This was swapped out when SWR problems were being chased before, and the co-linear coax was suspected). Plans to run a new heliax feeder were put on hold due to time constraints. However, a hole was drilled into the entry plate, in preparation for running the feeder.
New hole for future heliax feeder
The VHF repeater was re-installed, after being checked over and the common fault of the dry connections on the PA regulator transistor having been re-soldered to prevent TX power failure.
The cabinet was completey re-wired with new DC circuit breakers on top for Battery Isolator, and one breaker for each load. An inverter was fitted for the Wifi system, so it now runs off 12V DC, for mains failure protection. The IRLP PC could also run on this inverter, but until the battery bank is fitted, this was not done. The 40Ah battery is due to be replaced with a 300Ah sealed gel bank of 2V cells, on a battery stand against the wall (also not done due to time and manpower constraints)
An improved PIC-controlled interface card was re-installed, which will allow for remote channel change on the UHF link, so it can be linked to 438.650 on Ch 1, or 438.700 on Ch 2 in future. New EPROM's were fitted to the UHF link to get it to operate on these two channels - originally it only had Channel 1 fitted. It was left manually selected to Ch 2 for the upcoming VW rally, which means that 145.650 repeater is now linked to the Slipper network, and carries all the repeater network traffic. (Of course the network will be isolated at GHT for the duration of the rally - the Kareedouw link is removed for repair)
DC Breakers, PIC controlled interface card
VHF Kyodo Repeater, UHF Tait T800 link
UHF Tait T800 APRS Digipeater, ZS0KDK (434.800MHz)
IRLP PC, Wifi power and inverter at rear, temporary 40Ah battery underneath
Repeater Control Codes:
|5 July||Kareedouw Mountain||ZS2AAW||
Repeater not working, Link one-way from George
Investigation into the one-way link operation found that the link receiver from Lady's Slipper was completely off frequency. Removed for new crystal/repair in the workshop.
The missing VHF repeater transmission was found to be a wrong switch setting on the repeater - that was corrected.
Complete maintenance check run was done on all equipment. The link to Plett repeater was perfect. The repeater was also fine, so the site was left operating linked to the Southern Cape as per normal.
Link to Slipper
Link to Buffelsnek
|2 July||Longmore||ZS2WG, ZS2RL, ZS2TED, ZS2GV, ZS2AAW||
Site clearing done, DC system checked
Concerns about the repeater lasting for the duration of the rally weekend if the weather is cloudy, spurred a trip to the site to clear long grass and test the batteries and charging system.
Wolf, Beavan and Ted arrived early and Wolf made short work of the long grass with an industrial weed eater.
ZS2TED (Supervisor) and ZS2WG (worker)
ZS2WG (worker) and ZS2RL (worker) at work
The growth to be cleared
ZS2RL, ZS2GV, and ZS2AAW with bunny ears!
Glen and Chris arrived and did load checks individually on each battery, and also tested current suplied by each of the three solar panels to ensure that there was not a corroded connection problem in one or more panels. All tested fine, the batteries delivered power into a 130W halogen lamp without dropping below 12.5V. The solar regulator was also checked, the display readings were:
The solar regulator and load, battery CB's
The 2 x 170Ah sealed gel batteries
|15 June||Lady's Slipper||ZS2Q and helpers||
700 Bush clearing done
Thanks to Otto, ZS2Q, for clearing the overgrown vegetation around the Slipper repeater container - if another bush fire were to sweep through the area, our equipment would most certainly have been in trouble. Hopefully now we stand a better chance of survival.
|June||Lady's Slipper||ZS2AE, ZS2AAW, later joined by ZS2R, ZS2VA||
700 HF set installed
The Ham Radio Deluxe remote controlled Icom IC-718 was removed, along with the Interface equipment. A synthesised Motorola Micom-X was installed, with a modified PIC-controlled interface card that has the following codes:
The HF set on port 3 is now the Motorola, with only two-way patching enabled when port 3 is connected using the * command for "on". Squelch circuitry controls the keying of the link system, but keying the VHF repeater will force the HF set into TX mode. Currently this HF set is using the wideband travelling wave antenna at the top of the mast.
At a future date, the Icom IC-718 will be returned to site, whereupon a single-band dipole will be erected for the 7.098MHz rig, and the Icom will go back onto the wideband antenna. The remote control facility will be re-introduced, and audio will once again be available on 438.800 full duplex, on Skype, and optionally cross-patched to the link system for special occasions, if necessary (such as when frequencies OTHER than 7.098 need to be used onto the link system). This remote controlled rig will normally run as a totally standalone system, only receivable on 438.800MHz UHF direct from Slipper
A second Skype channel has been added to Slipper, so the VHF/UHF network is available on "ZS0NTP" and the future Remote HF audio will be available on "ZS0NTP HF Set".
|May||Mount Road||ZR2SAM, ZS2AAW||
650 Interference investigated further
Extensive tests on the 650 VHF repeater input on site on the roof yielded no further clues, but yet the repeater is noisy, and clean with dummy load on the antenna. In the end the VHF Repeater, the UHF APRS Digi were both removed for workshop check-ups.
A full alignment of the cavity duplexer is to be done on site, as well as replace the VHF Colinear antenna and LMR400 with heliax feedline in an attempt to clear the buzz interference on weak signals.
Further work to be done on site is the installation of a large 12V battery bank and stand, DC cabling, DC breaker rail and proper power reticulation it the cabinet, with inverter for Wifi and IRLP equipment.
|14 April||Lovemore Heights||ZS2GV, ZR2JH, ZS2AAW||
Temporary repeater installed
Two VHF folded dipoles were installed on the Lovemore Tower this morning, One at the top ~35m, and the other at the Landing ~15m. The existing spare 7/8 heliax feeders were tested and connected. This is in preparation for the D-Star repeater's permanent home.
But in the interim the old temporary Storno mobile repeater that did many years service for the VW Rally in the Longmore forest (BEFORE the nice new site and tower was built and a permanent repeater installed), was fitted on site to serve as comms repeater for the upcoming Ironman 2012 event. The repeater channel was moved to 145.600, as it used to be on the Longmore frequency of 145.625 (naturally!!!). It also features a DTMF controlled UHF link to allow linking to either town or Slipper. At present it is running stand-alone. Recce run checks will determine the coverage provided in the poor comms areas of last year, specifically the turning point on the Seaview road, and the Schoenies and Sardinia bay roads
The temporary repeater at Lovemore Heights
The lower (TX) folded dipole
The upper (RX) folded dipole
|27 March||Lovemore Heights||ZS2AAW||
Lightning Damage repaired
SIte went down on Sunday morning 25th, at about 11AM due to a direct strike at this site.
The damaged DC-DC converter is replaced, and an in-line ethernet surge protector is installed. A faulty LAN connector is also replaced, along with the damaged Power Over Ethernet injector box
Burnt RJ45 connector (middle pins)
Burnt RJ45 POE box (middle pins on LH socket)
RJ45 surge protector
All back up and running.
|11 March||Lady's Slipper||ZS2AAW||
Lady's Slipper BBS replaced
The fan housing louvres were replaced to prevent the Westerley winds driving rain into the room through the fan vent aperture.
Also returned to site was the ZS0NTP BBS PC, and all radio TNC's for packet, APRS etc.
Three heavier duty relays and bases were fitted to replace the burnt relay base contact, that suppies the PC inverter.
|23 February||Mount Rd||ZS2AAW||
ICASA - interference reported
Interference being caused to the 145.650 Repeater
at Mount Rd SAPS, input in 145.050MHz. When
not holding the repeater open, it can be heard on weaker signals as a
desense/background noise signal that can obliterate the wanted signal if very
At times this buzz interference moves up to the
145.700 repeater at Lady's Slipper, input on 145.100MHz
Attempts will be made to DF the source, when next
it holds the 650 open. True to
form, since I phoned you yesterday, it has not kept the repeater open again,
|24 January||Nathan Rd||ZS2AAW||
Telkom line issues
ADSL and voice comms from this QTH are below spec at present, due to audible crackle on the phone line. Technician shifted the pair on the drop cable from the street, so lets see if the corroded joint has been cured...
Speedtest.net results are still poor...
|21 January 2012||Longmore||ZS2AAW||
Retrieve Baviaans UHF Link and antenna
The temporary UHF link antenna point Westwards towards the Baviaanskloof was removed. It was originally installed in August for the Trans-Baviaans race that was eventually moved to the Grootrivier valley due to the Baviaans being closed. So the link was never used, in the end.
The original UHF link modules were re-installed to couple 145.625 back into the Town and Uitenhage repeaters.
REPEATER WORK (current)
REPEATER WORK (2015)
REPEATER WORK (2014)
REPEATER WORK (2013)
REPEATER WORK (2011)
REPEATER WORK (2010)
REPEATER WORK (2000 - 2010)
REPEATER WORK (1975 - 1999)