Category Archives: Meetings

Meetings

WARG Network upgrades and Expansion

There have been several conversations in past years about standardising and expanding the WARG network to both re-instate previous repeaters/sites, and to install new repeaters at key sites to expand coverage of the WARG network. The main aim of standardising equipment/sites is for ease of maintenance and repair. Fortunately, recent discussions have been gaining momentum and several projects are underway in achieving this.


Key discussions taking place have revolved around WHAT is the best solution for repeater devices, and linking radios, and how these can be standardised. The top contender was the Spectra MX800 due to features, reliability, and being locally manufactured here in Perth. Unfortunately, price was a prohibitive factor for these.


Second were the Icom IC-FR5000/6000 models as they provided all of the external connections through an auxiliary port which we required for linking and control. Hamtronics was also highly considered due to its good specs, particularly high sensitivity and selectivity, as well as it’s low power consumption for solar powered sites.

It’s expected that the Hamtronics will be used for linking transceivers between repeater sites. Whilst there are many potential contenders, particularly ex commercial such as the KL series, A key factor was the quantity and the longevity of supply, as well as warranty and support.


These “Repeater” discussions have led to more detailed subjects such as RF side standardisation, and CONTROLLER standardisation so that we can not only standardise the hardware throughout our network, but also standardise on the features and ‘brains’ of the network, in particular the WIA newslinking, ad-hoc user linking, and semi- permanent or ‘regional’ linking.

A group of WARG members have already made significant progress on designing a new “Complete Repeater Controller”. The Repeater Controller Project aims to design or source a controller which will meet ALL of WARG’s requirements. Although there are many highly capable controllers on the market, none seem to meet ALL of our requirements with future expansion/upgrades in mind. + link to design spec

2M Repeater – Hamtronics Links

Thank those of you who have replied to the idea of rebuilding our repeater network sing equipment like the Hamtronics REP-200.

The point was made that we would be best to perhaps buy one or two and see just ow well they work.

Hamtronics have been making amateur repeaters and many other amateur products or at least two decades. The REP-200 is a proven and very reliable repeater. Do a search on the web and you will find endless information about the REP-200 along with user comments. I see little point in using the argument of only buy one or two to see how they work. However for the total skeptics this may be required.

What we do need to be sure of is the functionality of the repeater in terms of linking and the way we use repeaters in VK6, such as WIA news broadcasts. Remember these repeaters are set up for the American amateur, but they are
used all round the World.

What we should understand is what does warg see as its future? Is it just doing the same building repeaters over and over hoping to come up with the repeater of all repeaters? Is it so in the process of building replacement repeaters, amateurs
become involved and learn? This was one of the reasons touted a couple of decades ago and it did not work.

Now stop rolling your eyes and saying that was then (at least two Iraqi wars ago) and now is now. Getting a significant number of amateurs involved in building replacement repeaters can happen but the odds are against you. This is due
to logistics of getting people together on a regular basis over a long period of time. It can be done but it requires a very dedicated one or two people with the time to organise this to happen. Busselton, Tic Hill & Cataby are examples of
where it did happen but you need that special person of persons to drive the project.

The projects mentioned were largely due to Jill Weaver VK6YL being that special person who did much of this organisation.

However the Hamtronics repeaters built from the kit form is a much easier group project that could happen. Building 10 repeaters from X commercial equipment very unlikely.

The point;

The reason for my renewed interest in what warg is moving towards doing, replacing the existing 2M repeaters with modified X commercial equipment, I firmly believe will not work to the extent we all would hope.

Money seems to be the main argument against the REP-200 concept. Warg has been a very successful club for over 3 decades and it is only of recent with the donation from the VK6WIA that it has become well off. For most of wargs existence the club only had a few dollars at best. What better way to spend the windfall from the WIA than spend it on an investment in the future and then move on to doing more than just re-building repeaters.

I will find out the exact total cost from Hamtronics for the cost of 10 completly built and tested and the cost of the 10 kits.

Links to sites on the Hamtronics Repeaters

Hamtronics REP-200

Repeater Builders Website

Why a Hamtronics Repeater?

Agenda Item – 2M Repeater Replacement Project

** Notice of business at the next WARG meeting 05/11/2007 **
From Will VK6UU

Request that regular business be expedited so a discussion can take place under the following topics.

Note; discussion without cost being part of the discussion (see below*)

1. Does warg intend to replace its existing 2M network in part or full?
2. What are the reasons for the replacement?
3. If so what equipment is to be used for the replacement (control board)?
4. How much replacement equipment is available?
5. Is the replacement equipment suitable?
6. How is this to be achieved (who is to do it)?
7. What is the time frame?
8. Would the REP-200 be a better choice if cost was not an issue?

Further discussion.

Does warg have a longer term strategy once (if) the 2M network is successfully replaced?

Under this question points for discussion.

1. Linking of warg’s repeaters.
2. Any new ideas outside rebuilding and maintaining repeaters.

*Cost could bog the discussion down. I believe warg has ample funds and should use them as members intended, however with my offer to fund the project in part of full, cost need not be mentioned and the discussion focus on the points (and others) raised in this motion.

Comments;

Warg have a long and successful history with the club being formed in the 1970’s and continues today with excellent attendance at meetings and considerable efforts by a range of amateurs to maintain the repeater network. For example work done at the Rolystone site over the past couple of years is to be commended.

However a critical examination of warg’s achievements over its entire history has repeatedly shown the club struggles, despite generous effort and time by many amateurs, to move beyond maintaining its existing network. The number of warg repeaters and linked repeaters is less today than a decade ago.

Why?

My examination of the problem is our efforts are fundamentally due to limitations in building our own 2M repeaters. It is the amateur tradition to build as much as possible and to scrounge and be resourceful, all skills to be commended, but not at the expense of being caught in a going no where situations. Repeaters like the ten & six metre repeater are separate to this due to their singular nature.

Warg should not be struggling to maintain its 2M network but fixing it and building in easy replacement so any repeater failures do not result in these systems being off air for months. If a reliable high quality 2M repeater can be achieved (and it can) warg can then move onto standardising and improving all the other important elements of a repeater installation. The talent and interest is there we just need to organise ourselves so we gain enthusiasm due to success.

Repeater linking (by RF) can be achieved in a better way than at present. Standardisation of linking equipment can be done so wherever a link is required it is plug & play. Hamtronics make a range of UHF RX/TX units ideally suited for linking.

Without a close examination of warg’s situation the club may not be able to make the progress it wants and deserves.

Will
VK6UU
Founding & life member of WARG