VK5RWR

VK5RWR – Riverland West Repeater

Myself, VK5FO and VK5RR have commenced the build on a new Repeater in the Riverland – approximately 10km west of Waikerie.

The Current Status as of September 2021 is:

APRS Digi and I-Gate – 145.175   (Operational)  60W

VHF Analogue Repeater 146.750 / 146.150  (-0.6Mhz) (Not Operational)

UHF C4FM Repeater 438.750  / 431.750 (-7Mhz) (Operational)  50W

The UHF repeater is a DR2-XE, running an up to date firmware.  This repeater has several enhancements over the earlier DR2-X and the DR1 range, including better thermal protection.  If the repeater gets too hot, it will throttle the TX power down to 20W, then even 5W in order to minimize the risk of thermal failure.

The plan is to add the VHF within the next few month’s.

The UHF repeater is running in AMS – Automatic Mode Selection – which means it will detect if you are using Analogue or C4FM (Digital) to give the maximum flexibility for users.

When transmitting Analogue there is  a 91.5hz CTCSS tone on TX so that you do not hear the digital tones when the repeater is running C4FM.

When utilizing Analogue (FM) mode, the repeater is operating stand-alone and not linked.

The repeater is running in Wires-X mode via a HRI-200 interface and it is configured to default to the “Adelaide 10G” (69159) Room.  C4FM users are able to disconnect and dial up to any of the worldwide Wires-X rooms, and after 20 minutes of inactivity the repeater will disconnect and re-connect back to “Adelaide 10G”

VK5RWR UHF Coverage Map

 

The coverage map is for the current UHF temporary antenna at around 13M.  When it moves to the main tower, it will go up almost 10M higher than it is now, and the coverage will extend somewhat.

There is coverage with a handheld in Waikerie and also Morgan (not down near the river).

From the limited testing we have so far completed, the coverage map is reasonably accurate and is based on a Mobile Radio running 20W.   It is possible that the coverage may differ from the map, and we would like to get feedback on actual coverage.

As a note, we have already had feedback that marginal access is available from Loxton using a high-gain vertical base station.

Update – 06-Oct-21

We have completed the earth works and are now almost ready for the concrete for the tower and shed to be laid.

The ground is sandy with limestone, we could not go (very) deep, so we had to go wide as well.  The tower will sit over a 2x2x1M “hole” with a 4x4x.25M Slab over the top of it, with an additional slab off the side where the shed will go.  The total mass will ensure that the Tower will be stable!   The Tower is 60 foot (19M) and will have the antenna’s on a 4M pole in the top – For a height of nearly 23M for the UHF Antenna array and just over 21M for the primary VHF Antenna Array.

Update – 31-Oct-21

All meshed up and ready for the pour on the first weekend of Nov 21

 Update – 6-Nov-21

The Truck arrived, and let the pour commence.

A few hours later, the truck dropped the 8.2M3 of concrete, we leveled it up (well, mostly) and next steps will be to hurry up and wait for 3 or 4 weeks, then build the shed, and dress the tower ready for it to go from horizontal to vertical.

A huge thanks to the few who were able to come along and assist with to work today, it was most appreciated.

Update – 14-Jan-22

Best laid plans, get delayed.

A few issues with connectors – and Andrews LDF5-50 connectors DO NOT fit on AVA5-50.  Anyway, past that and the cables have connectors, the antennas are mounted to the tower.

2 runs of LDF4-50 for the VHF Tx and Rx arrays, and the AVA5-50 run for the UHF array.

The Tx array – pair of folded dipoles

The Rx array, again a pair of folded dipoles.

The UHF array, yes you guessed it another pair of folded dipoles.

You get a sense of the size,  23M down to the bottom of the tower.

Yes, it takes a long time to mount the cables and dress the tower – all up it was almost a week’s worth of effort

Now we are again at the hurry up and wait stage,  we are waiting for the crane to come along and stand it all up – stay tuned it is all scheduled.

Update – 09-Feb-22

Well, finally it is crane day  – beware – tower porn follows 🙂

Ready to stand up

16 Ton Crane setting up.

Getting ready

Going up…..

Going up….

And up….

This tower ain’t going nowhere!

A work of art!

For the astute, yes, some stainless wires run down – sky hooks for low band antenna’s.

As a comparison, you can just see the existing VHF/UHF white stick to the right on the corner of the shed.  The top of this is about 2M below the lowest VHF (TX) array on the tower, and the UHF array is a full 9.5M higher.

Drone Pic  – existing white stick in foreground.

And, the horizon, this direction it is the range – at Burra  just on 100km away.

Next steps are to build the shed beside the tower in the coming weeks.

Update – 27-Feb-22

Shed building time

It took a lot longer than expected to build the shed, but once it was completed, it was a matter of bringing in the feeders and installing the UHF repeater into the rack.

One of the priorities was to EARTH EVERYTHING! and whilst we may not (yet) survive a direct lightning strike, at least we know that we have some protection.

The 2m APRS is currently on the VHF TX antenna and the 30M APRS has also moved.

A short video showing the current status.

 

Update – 26-Mar-22

It never ends, there is always something more to do on a new site and the next steps were to look at the power.

With a pair of 165AH batteries, and 2x250W solar panels, along with a suitable 40A MPPT regulator, and a 20A 240V “backup” supply.

The solar panels will be moved to provide shading over the roof in the coming weeks.

 

A new set of UHF filters were installed – replacing the notch filters that were in use – which provide much better isolation and front-end protection to the repeater.

Update 10 Apr 22

The solar has already proven to be useful and after a couple of weeks running and everything has settled down it is working just fine.

From the App, I can see that after the first few days and the batteries cycled up, that overnight the batteries are not dropping very far, certainly not enough for the backup 240v to kick in.

In preparation for the VHF, an isolation measurement was taken between the 2 vhf antenna arrays, and that was slightly better than expected.

The rx array connected to s.11 port, shows the return loss is not the best, but this was known before the tower went vertical.  It does show that the isolation is a tad over 40db which makes the filtering a bit easier!

The return on the tx array is much better, and still showing greater than 40db isolation.

Acknowledgements

Along this journey of building a complete greenfield site it could not have happened with the help of a lot of people,

In no particular order, VK5HS, VK5TRM, VK5FR, VK5BB, VK5KX, VK5HMV,  VK5NVR, VK5GR and VK5BX  and our neighbour Adrian and all the other AREG and Riverland Radio Club members that been of great assistance also