Category Archives: Working Bees

Working Bees

Site visit to Kellerberrin VK6RKN

Monday April 18th happened to be World Amateur Radio Day – and a group of WARG members decided to celebrate the day by travelling to Kellerberrin, about 200km east of Perth, for a day’s work on the VK6RKN repeater site. Trevor VK6MS and myself travelled up from Perth, Peter VK6PK joined us along the way from Wooroloo, and we met Bruce VK6LAW and Pete VK6FUN on site at the repeater.

This site had previously suffered a lightning strike, which did significant damage and put the 2m repeater off air. Whilst partial work had been done to restore the service, it hadn’t been previously possible to climb the mast and replace damaged antennas and feedlines. This was the main aim of the working party, and thanks to our combined effort – and particularly the work of Trevor VK6MS – we had great success on the day.

WARG recently was fortunate to obtain a donation of high quality low-loss antenna cable (LDF4-50 equivalent) from David, ex-VK6NFH. Prior to the working bee this was prepared and checked ready for transport to site and installation. Ray VK6ZRW had previously retuned the cavities, and a replacement antenna and the repaired repeater/cavities had already been transported to site and installed on test, thanks to the previous efforts of VK6PK, VK6FUN and Colin VK6ACT. A new UHF CB antenna was already on site courtesy of the shire, who had asked if we could investigate the CB repeater performance in consideration of WARG’s site access for the 2m repeater.

On the day, Trevor VK6MS scaled the 45m mast, and with the rest of us as ground crew, we removed and lowered the faulty 2m and UHF CB antennas, hoisted the new feedline aloft, and fitted replacement antennas, including a stacked phased-array dipole for the UHF CB, and a dual-band X-300 Diamond for WARG usage. The CB phased-array is all stainless-steel welded construction, and sits atop the mast, offering a greater degree of lightning protection in future. The WARG dual-band sits on an outrigger about a metre or so below the mast top, hopefully out of the firing line, whilst still achieving good height for coverage. The new feedline is secured with stainless cable ties and earthed top and bottom to the mast. At ground level the feedline entry point to the hut was improved with a new gland plate being fabricated and installed, along with a lightning arrestor at the entry point, and new internal cabling to the repeater and APRS equipment.

Due to the fading daylight, there was not time for a full spec-check and investigation of the repeater and APRS functions, but on a quick test, all was working to a reasonable standard. Mobile tests on the homeward journey showed the repeater coverage now extending westwards to Cunderdin and north to Baandee, with base stations in Merredin also being able to work VK6RKN. (On the down side, the coverage in the Perth Hills seems to have dropped off…but I would say that is outweighed by the local improvements…)

A big thank you to VK6MS for the climbing, and to Bruce VK6LAW, who used his local contacts to solve a number of problems on the day. Thanks are also due to VK6FUN, VK6PK and all others who donated time, effort or materials to make the day a success.

There is still work to be done – the APRS antenna (Diamond 2m colinear at about 15m level) is showing high SWR, which needs investigation, although the APRS is still working OK by all reports. The repeater’s RX mute setting is a bit high, and it still seems to be de-sensing on weaker signals at the fringes – plus the internal hut cabling could do with a bit of tidying up. All tasks for a future working bee…to be scheduled.

Reports on the coverage and performance of the repeater,  and APRS service would be appreciated, either on-air during WARG’s Sunday net;  via email, to secretary AT whisky alpha romeo golf DOT org DOT au – or come along to a WARG meeting and tell us about it!

73, and Best Regards,

Anthony VK6AXB
Secretary, WARG

Working Bee – VK6RTH (Tic Hill) 15-05-2015

Working Bee – VK6RTH – 15-05-2015.

A short notice to members just reminding all that a working bee has been scheduled for Tic Hill, by Site Manager Bob VK6POP. The Bee is scheduled for Friday May 15th 2015, Meeting is at 0930, Liason Frequency for the morning will be the star of the day, Tic Hill (146.800). If you are planning on attending to assist, please notify Bob via the reflector.

A number of tasks require attention including installation of solar panels (if anyone is able to climb a mast, please contact Bob), installation of a regulator, servicing of the batterys and a general site cleanup and tidy.

For those who haven’t attended a site working bee for a while, or who haven’t been to the Tic Hill site, the information below refers:

WARG will appoint team leaders or co-ordinators for the working bee to ensure everyone goes home safely – these person/s will be identified to you on the day, please follow their instructions.

The repeater site is on private land, and prior permission is required for access. No entry for pets or other animals. Leave all gates as found, and take care not to disturb livestock, damage any crop or contaminate water supplies (eg: no hand washing in stock troughs or similar). Even though it is a lower risk time of year, fire precautions should also be taken. All rubbish and waste items must be removed from the site at the conclusion of the works.

The repeater site itself is not readily accessible by 2WD vehicle. Therefore arrangements will need to be made with the working team beforehand so everyone has suitable transport from the base of the hill to the site if required.

The site is unattended, with no toilets or other facilities of any kind. It is your responsibility to bring with you everything you will need for the day, including food, and water for drinking & washing, etc. There is little indoor space to shelter from the elements, so hats, sunglasses & sunscreen, or rain wear etc should be carried, depending on the weather forecasts. Other personal protective equipment (PPE) such as boots, hardhat, gloves, safety glasses, earplugs etc may be required, depending on the work we are doing – if you have your own PPE, please bring it along. Likewise bring a first aid kit if you have one, although some first aid supplies will be available on site.

The site is shared with other users, and their equipment & presence must be respected. Keep the usual distance from antennas and equipment you are not familiar with. Some structures on the site may contain asbestos, the usual precautions should apply here. Radio masts shall only be climbed by appropriately qualified or experienced people with the correct safety equipment.

The site is in a scrub/bushland setting, and – especially in summer – care must be taken not to do anything which may start a fire. Extra care must be taken with the use of gas soldering irons, power tools, or clearing work likely to cause sparks. Smokers should be especially careful – or preferably, quit! (At least for the day…)

In addition there may be the usual hazards associated with bushland, including spiders & snakes – wear long pants and closed shoes, preferably safety boots. Take care when moving near bush areas.

Besides your tool box, multimeter, SWR meter and handheld radios, useful items to bring to a repeater site working bee could include: insect spray; stepladder & garden tools for trimming tree limbs and clearing scrub from guy wires; rags, brushes and cleaners for removing dust from equipment; camera & notepad for documenting things; heavy cable ties, black electrical tape, silastic sealant; coax joiners & adaptors…. this list is not exhaustive. In the end, what you bring to a working bee is limited only by your transport, imagination and what’s in your shack – but remember it is your responsibility for keeping track of items you bring to site, and making sure you get them back at the end of the day.

Pets & small children should not be part of a working bee. If you are caring for children and have no choice but to bring them, it is your responsibility to supervise them, keep them out of harm’s way, and prevent them becoming a risk to others.

West Australian Repeater Group
May 2015

Working Bee – VK6RCT 28/9/14

After some time off the air, sitting in silence, it is now time to continue the work at VK6RCT to re-instate the repeater, give the site a spring clean and overhaul in time for the summer months.

The proposed date for this is Sunday 28th September 2014, with the plan being for an early departure from Perth with an arrival time allowing us to (all going according to plan) complete the required work and site clean within the day. As with all our repeater sites, we rely on the time and effort of our members and the wider amateur community as a whole and given the remoteness of this site all available hands that could be mustered for the day would be greatly appreciated.

A suitable meeting point and agenda for the day will be arranged and distributed when tasks are confirmed and we have an idea on numbers. Site manager Craig VK6FLAM is coordinating the effort on the day and will be conducting a briefing before work starts. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact VK6FLAM directly on (vk6flam at g mail dot com) via email, or advise on the Sunday morning nets in the weeks beforehand. (The net is on VK6RLM at 1030 local).

For those who haven’t attended a site working bee for a while, or who haven’t been to Cataby site, the information below refers:

WARG will appoint team leaders or co-ordinators for the working bee to ensure everyone goes home safely – these person/s will be identified to you on the day, please follow their instructions.

The Cataby repeater site is on private farmland, and prior permission is required for access. No entry for pets or other animals. Leave all gates as found, and take care not to disturb livestock, damage any crop or contaminate water supplies (eg: no hand washing in stock troughs or similar). Even though it is a lower risk time of year, fire precautions should also be taken. All rubbish and waste items must be removed from the site at the conclusion of the works.

Cataby is located some two hours north of Perth. Those attending the site need to have adequate fuel for the journey to & from, and ensure their vehicles are in good order and suitable for country driving, including gravel roads. The repeater site itself is not readily accessible by 2WD vehicle. Therefore arrangements will need to be made with the working team beforehand so everyone has suitable transport from the base of the hill to the site if required.

The site is unattended, with no mains power connected, and no toilets or other facilities of any kind. It is your responsibility to bring with you everything you will need for the day, including food, and water for drinking & washing, etc. There is little indoor space to shelter from the elements, so hats, sunglasses & sunscreen, or rain wear etc should be carried, depending on the weather forecasts. Other personal protective equipment (PPE) such as boots, hardhat, gloves, safety glasses, earplugs etc may be required, depending on the work we are doing – if you have your own PPE, please bring it along. Likewise bring a first aid kit if you have one, although some first aid supplies will be available on site.

The Cataby site is shared with other users, and their equipment & presence must be respected. There are no services on site which pose an EMC or radiation hazard at ground level, but keep the usual distance from antennas and equipment you are not familiar with. Some structures on the site may contain asbestos, the usual precautions should apply here. Radio masts shall only be climbed by appropriately qualified or experienced people with the correct safety equipment.

The site is in a scrub/bushland setting, and – especially in summer – care must be taken not to do anything which may start a fire. Extra care must be taken with the use of gas soldering irons, power tools, or clearing work likely to cause sparks. Smokers should be especially careful – or preferably, quit! (At least for the day…)

In addition there may be the usual hazards associated with bushland, including spiders & snakes – wear long pants and closed shoes, preferably safety boots. Take care when moving near bush areas.

Besides your tool box, multimeter, SWR meter and handheld radios, useful items to bring to a repeater site working bee could include: insect spray; stepladder & garden tools for trimming tree limbs and clearing scrub from guy wires; rags, brushes and cleaners for removing dust from equipment; camera & notepad for documenting things; heavy cable ties, black electrical tape, silastic sealant; coax joiners & adaptors….  this list is not exhaustive. In the end, what you bring to a working bee is limited only by your transport, imagination and what’s in your shack – but remember it is your responsibility for keeping track of items you bring to site, and making sure you get them back at the end of the day.

Pets & small children should not be part of a working bee. If you are caring for children and have no choice but to bring them, it is your responsibility to supervise them, keep them out of harm’s way, and prevent them becoming a risk to others.

VK6RTH – Tic Hill – Site Working Bee – Wed 11th July

A successful working bee at Tic Hill was carried out on 11th July.

Work carried out consisted of:

APRS antenna stand-off replacement (to keep antenna vertical)

INOX placed in batteries and placed on high charge (via 2KW petrol Generator)

Reconnection of all 6x Solar panels (total 350W) with each pair isolated

Current measurement of all/individual equipment at site (Standby, power-up and TX)

WAFN antennas/cabling/equipment replacement/tidy up and new solar pannel/batteries installed (not independant power system)

Thanks to 6POP, 6JAH, 6TWO,6ZRW, 6FLEX,WAFN

Pogo-Stick Antenna Working Bee – Saturday 14th July

Saturday morning 14th July will saw a club working bee to manufacture our famous ‘Pogo-Stick’ antennas for sale at the Anual Perth Hamfest.

Mass production of all of the ‘parts’ took off quite quickly, however the assembly hit a ‘road block’ when it came to optimising/refining the design. Several hours were spent ‘tweaking’ and testing with very expensive test equipment till we came up with a final build which enabled the antenna to be usable across the entire 2m band.

Along with several saussages in bread, the assembly line was back in full swing.

~20 antennas were completed and individually tested.

Thanks to 6HRB, Dot, 6ZRW, ZRW-Jr, 6AXB, 6JAH, 6FMON, 6TWO, 6LV, 6FLEX, 6BDO, 6FJON, 6KMC, 6ZMS,TOM.

 

WARG Practical and Information sessions – Meetings

WARG is changing the way meetings are run to include more informational/practical sessions. We’re considering bi-monthly General Meetings, where the alternate month will involve informational/practical sessions. We’re also looking at the restructure of formal General Meetings to ‘compress’ the formalities to enable simular informative sessions to follow.

Please let us know any topics you’d like to learn about related to Repeaters/AR.

Some Ideas we have so far…

Meeting:

Radio measurements – Bring along your mobile/HT radios and we’ll test things like audio levels, deviation, power output, frequency shift etc.
Learn how/why different stations sound different via the repeaters

Meeting:

Roleystone site visit – Come along and see what a repeater site looks like.
Learn about all of the devices required for a repeater, how they connect, and what they look like.

Meeting:

WARG network and features – Learn what repeaters are out there and what features they have availabale to users.
APRS network – Learn what APRS digipeaters/gateways are out there and what features they have availabale to users.

Meeting:

sweep/tune a complete set of new cavities for Tic Hill
sweep/tune/test other cavities in container
test/refurbish spare antennas in container

Meeting:

Repeater theory – Learn how a repeater works, what parts there are, what functions are available
building up spare repeaters

Meeting:

Program up APRS digipeaters x3
Manufacture/mount APRS enclosures x3
presentation on APRS graphs/monitoring

Meeting:

Brainstorming/presenting smart controller features for smart linking
old network design
current network design
future network design
System Expansion planning
System refurbishment planning

Meeting:

Build new DC distribution boards x3
testing of old Walliston Batteries

Roleystone Working Bee – 18th Feb 2012

Another productive ~5hr working bee at Roleystone on Feb 18th. Tasks carried out were:

New Cavities swept, tuned and tested on 146.700
Old Cavities swept and tuned (then returned to service – new ones will now go to Tic Hill)
Foliage under Guy Wires removed
Foliage around Shacks removed
Foliage around HF Beacon Antenna removed
Foliage along driveway removed
Mute levels adjusted
re terminated 23cm coax connector
took measurements in preparation for cable tray between mast and shack.
Took several photos
Consumed Coffee
Consumed Muffins
Consumed Smartie Choc Chip Cookies
Suffered many prickles/thorns/splinters from bushes.

Thanks to those who gave signal reports at the time. We’d appreciate if everyone could give an indication of access coverage since the changes.

Sweep plots were captured and will either get published on the WARG website or emailed out on this list. (please contact me if you would like me to send you a copy directly)

We will require another working bee at some stage in the near future to:

Install cable tray
recover coax/ethernet cables from Mast
Possibly swap main antenna (pending changes to coverage reports)
Commission 3rd run of LDF5-50 (already installed)
remove foliage around perimeter/fire break
Level checks on audio interfaces (repeaters and news link)
Sweep DSTAR 2m Cavities
General tidy up of cable routing within shack
Possibly recommission VK6BBR
Document cables/connectors/interfaces for all equipment (for site database)

Many Thanks to VK6TWO, VK6FMON, Bruno, VK6AIF, VK6ZRW, VK6DB, VK6AXB, VK6LV, VK6JAH, VK6ZMS

Roleystone – Q1 2012 Working Bee

The Roleystone Repeater site requires another Working Bee to do a bit of a tidy up and make some improvements to the installation.

With the installation of 3 new LDF5-50 up the 80m mast, the old rigid line needs to be removed and sold/disposed of.

Cable tray is required to tidy up the coax runs between the Radio Shack and the Tower. Ray VK6ZRW is looking into a source for materials.

After a prolonged ‘Mains Failure” around August 2011, two spare 80W Solar Panels were placed flat on the roof and connected to the main batteries by Heath VK6TWO. These will have to be mounted in a more robust and efficient way. Some redesign of the DC power/Batteries would also be worthwhile.

Warradarge – New site for coverage to Geraldton

In November, Martin VK6ZMS, Heath VK6TWO and Monique VK6FMON traveled to a potential new site in Warradarge to assess the suitability for extending 2m Voice and APRS coverage up to Geraldton.

Warradarge is aproximately 260km north of Perth along the Brand Highway, and about 180km NLOS SSE of Geraldton.

A 10m mast was raised to enable some propagation/coverage testing from the 290m HASL Warradarge Hill.

The VK6RPT  2m APRS Digipeater was installed, along with 4.5dB antenna, deep cycle battery and 80W solar.

APRS packets from Warradarge have been received by VK6RCT, VK6RTH, VK6REX and VK6RAV.

Performance from the site has been much less than expected so a higher gain antenna will replace the current one to better assess the site for suitability.

Great thanks goes to Craig VK6FLAM who did a lot of the prep-work for this trip, but unfortunately had a last minute emergency which stopped him from attending.

It’s expected that 2012 should see permanent APRS and 2m Voice in this area, enabling coverage from Geraldton through to Cateby.