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go back to indexSeaway Valley Amateur Radio Club

1489 Holy Cross Blvd, Cornwall Ontario K6H 2W9

Spring and Summer 2006

Training

There is a Basic course running this spring, with 5 students attending. One of these, Rennie Bachner, has already written the test (a million years of experience in the electronics business) and is now known affectionately as VE3AAJ. The rest will be writing the test sometime in late June, 2006. We hope they will all do well.

Repeater Antenna Update

We still haven't got the repeater tower back up.  (it's mid april while I am writing this section) I am not able to do the job alone, and I am getting no cooperation or interest from the majority of the other members in the club. Lots of bickering, but no serious offers of assistance. We need someone to take the tower on as a project and get the job done. The repeaters both have their antennas mounted on the same three foot tripod sitting on the hospital roof - I'm surprised they don't interfere with one another, but they don't. As it stands, we have a fairly strong in Alexandria, and are workable almost to Ingleside to the west. Maybe that's the problem - it is actually working not too badly as it is. Even on the Standby repeater which is only 3 watts out, we get S7 reports from Alexandria. That's not too bad.

Repeaters

There is now a PL tone board attached to both the main and standby VHF repeaters on 147.180 set for 110.9 hz, to filter out the interference we are getting. If you are inside our coverage area, I suggest you program your radios to send 110.9 Hz pl tone on both the VHF and UHF repeaters now. The CTCSS controller, a TS64, is set up to detect 110.9 hz on the receiver signal, and then to transmit 110.9 Hz ONLY WHEN IT IS RECEIVING a PL tone. What this means is that if you set your transceiver to both send and expect the PL tone, you will only hear audio when the sender is using a tone. You won't hear the ident, courtesy tones or tail time.

You also won't hear the interference we are getting since it is not transmitting a PL tone. Of course, the down side to this is that you won't hear anybody transmitting without a tone. If you set up your transceiver to send 110.9 hz, but leave the receive open, you will hear the repeater normally (without the interference of course).

The object of all that is to make the VHF repeater IRLP friendly. IRLP requires the sending of only received audio across the internet. They don't want tail time, courtesy tones or idents. By setting up the PL tones the way we did, we can use a transceiver on the frequency at a remote location to connect the repeater to the IRLP without having to have another transceiver at the site connected to the repeater's remote port, and needing another antenna. We have an IRLP kit and it will be set up soon.

The main VHF repeater has a rather long ident right now. I have added the characters 'PL 1109' to the end of the ident so anyone passing by and wanting to use the repeater will know what the required PL tone is. That's on the assumption they can read a bit of morse code.

The ident you will hear on the main VHF repeater right now is:

V . . . --

E .
3 . . . -- --
S . . .
V . . . --
C -- . -- .

P . -- -- .
L . -- . .

1 . -- -- -- --
1 . -- -- -- --
0 -- -- -- -- --
9 -- -- -- -- .

ARES and EMO

I have been doing a lot of work in relation to ARES and also in relation to the Cornwall Emergency Management Committee, for which I am the SVARC representative, and the Communications Officer. I am also the ARES EC for the City of Cornwall. I have been revising and expanding on some work originated by Michael Hickey, the ARES DEC to create Training material,  Pamphlets, and other things for ARES training. For the city's EMC, I have the use of a room in the city's EMO site for communications equipment for City frequencies and for Amateur Radio ARES equipment. We have at this time, the city's EMC transceiver set up in the room, and four pieces of coax going through the wall to be used for ARES equipment. That part of the job is only partly done, since the cables have to be ducted to go up the wall on the outside, and we have to establish some dual band antennas up there.

I am planning:
To support this, we need to acquire some equipment:

The site has backup power with an almost instant changeover.

Earle, VE3IMP, has installed a dual band antenna at the Red Cross Building and we have used it a couple of times for testing. It is presently mounted in the attic of the building and should be relocated to the rooftop. We need to also install coaxes and antennas at a couple of other locations where we may be placing operators during an emergency, such as at the civic complex which is designated as the major shelter, at the hospital, and wherever else they may be needed. An antenna system is also needed for the Command Vehicle, which has a place for us, but no equipment.

April 30th, 2006

Tim, VE3HCB represented ARES along with the Red Cross and SDG Emergency Management at the South Stormont trade show on the 29th of April, 2006. Since the arena in Long Sault, Ontario, where the show was held, is a metal clad building, He took along a Diamond XL500HD antenna and a 5 foot tripod, along with an IC2350 dualband and an IC706MK2G and two handhelds. The XL in the antenna name stands for eXtra Long. It was assembled inside the building - the designated space was smack in the center of the arena so there was no chance of running coax to an outside antenna. At a total height of 24 feet, it reached to within a foot of the ceiling. If nothing else, it looked pretty impressive. Deaf as a rock, but impressive.

Even with that antenna, and a 50 watt dualband transceiver, the only repeater that could be used was VE3PGC in Bonville, about 20 miles to the north. And that happened only when the large vehicle doors on the west side of the building were opened. He logged onto the Denver IRLP reflector and let it chatter away. Repeaters VE3SVC and VA3SDG in Cornwall could be heard, but could not be worked.

Standing outside the building, a good half dozen repeaters can be reached with a handheld, and Cornwall can be worked simplex with 10 watts or less on both VHF and UHF using a quarter wave dualband antenna on the vehicle. This is an excellent demonstration of the fact that for us to work out of buildings like this which are liable to be used as shelters in an emergency, we need outside antennas to do the job.

About 150 of the pamphlets originated by VE3IPC and others originally for Prescott and modified for Cornwall and SDG use were distributed along with EMO's saftey information. Two of the persons who visited us have asked for information on a basic course, so I guess I'll have to run another one.

July 1, 2006

We did Field Day on the weekend of the 24th of June, again at the schoolhouse at Ault Park. We had the participation of a number of members, had three workstations set up (but only ran 2A because only two were operational most of the time) and managed 130 contacts for 260 points for basic operation, plus extra points for generators, media relations etc.

The bands were open from the start until about 3am when they closed down hard until about 7 am. I got a couple of contacts on 6 metres from georgia and lots of contacts on the other bands.  The three stations set up were an IC706MK2G with an AT180 autotuner (nice), an FT101 and a TS860C, both with manual tuners. We had several antennas up, three multibands and one 80 Metre dipole. One of the multibands was a vertical and it performed quite well.  The pink monster - a 5 band antenna made from recycled pink electrical wire - performed very well. The other multiband, which is a trap tuned dipole that is supposed to work from 160 through 6 wouldn't tune on 40 or 15, and was noisy on the other bands. There is obviously something wrong with it, and we may have to make another pink monster for next year.

The participants were: Tim, VE3HCB; Bert, VA3TL; John H, VE3XAM; John V, VA3EDG; Doug  VE3HTR;  and Joe VA3ADB.  Joe VE3ADB was commandeered to do the cooking saturday night and filled us up with burgers and hot dogs.  Joe and Tim stayed overnight and tried valiantly to stay awake. As I said earlier, the bands died right out about 3 am and it got pretty boring. Bert brought out some coffee (thank you thank you thank you!) for us in the morning and took over, Tim and Joe got a few hours sleep, and the teardown happened around 2 pm. Thanks, Doug, for the use of the two generators. 

A reporter from the Seaway News came out saturday afternoon and interviewed us about what we were doing - and found out we really didn't know what we were doing - but the report didn't show up in the paper yet.  Tim was interviewed on CJSS 1220, the local AM station on friday morning over the phone.

Here's some pictures:

station 1
station 2
station 3
Station 1; 706MK2G with AT180 Autotuner, and an IC2350 Dual Band Radio
Station 2; FT-101 Transceiver
Station 3; Kenwood TS-860C transceiver

I took the pictures in the middle of the night, and there wasn't anyone to pose. Joe was napping in front of station 2, and I was holding the camera. For whatever reason, I didn't take any pictures during the day when there were a lot of people around.

The weather was nice, not too hot, and a bit of breeze. We thought there were going to be gobs of mosquitoes after sunset, but there was only a few. We were able to leave the windows open all night. We had a couple of fans going (thank you, John V) and that made it even better.

July 4th: Good News and Bad News ---

The Good News:

On Monday, June 30th we finally got the tower up. (YAY!) A contingent of foolhardy members went up and drilled holes, put clamps on cables and then assembeled the tower in the reverse order that anyone of intelligence would do it; however it worked and the tower is up, with both the VHF and UHF antennas mounted and working, and while it looks kind of funny, it works.

Earle VE3IMP, Phillipe VA3PED, John VA3EDG, Doug VE3HTR, Marshall VE3SAQ and Tim VE3HCB participated in erecting the tower. What we did was to drill a hole in the wall over the door onto the roof and mount one anchor there. We connected two guy lines to that anchor and to the tower. We installed two other sets of Guy wires to the tower and then stood it up.. While it was being held in place by John and Tim, (and Doug and Marshall hanging onto guy wires), Earle and Phillipe drilled holes and mounted the other two anchors, and then fastened the guy wires to the anchors. Once the guys were properly tensioned, Earle and Phillipe climbed the tower and installed both sets of antennas. The feedlines were brought down the guy line that is mounted above the access door, keeping the cables off the roof surface and out of everyone's way.

One other glitch we encountered is that the turnbuckles didn't fit the anchors - the hooks were too small. In typical Ham ingenuity, we solved the problem by taking the guy wire through the hole in the anchor, made a loop further back in the guy wire that we could then put the turnbuckle hook into, and then tightened everything up. It looks weird, but it works. I'll go take some pictures and post them here.

As things are right now, the repeater is good to the other side of the Quebec border to the east, (Cote de Lac, I believe) reliable to past Ingleside and useable almost to Morrisburg to the west. To the north, the only report we have is that Mike, VE3AET was able to check into the monday night net from his kitchen in Alexandria with a handheld.

The bad news is that we may have to move it because the new digital police system is getting interference, which they think is from us. The call I got is that they are getting interference 'big time', and while I know it won't be from the VHF system - it wasn't being used very much - it might be from the UHF system, because we were rebroadcasting the NASA audio feed most of the day. we'll find out.


December 30th: Bad News and Good News ---

The later part of the summer was pretty quiet, and about all we did activity wise was to support the local Heart and Stroke organization when they did a fund raising walk. They were rather well organized at their base of operations, but rather poorly organized along the walk itself. The only people actually looking over the walkers was us. I think if they want us to be part of the event next year, I am going to have a little talk with the event organizer about what event organizing is all about before I commit the club to supporting them.

The previous section talks about us finally getting the tower up. Boy, did we get in trouble! We violated the warranty on the hospital's new roof, and had to take the tower back down. When we drilled into the parapet (the short wall around the edge of the roof) we penetrated the one piece waterproofing membrane that covers the entire roof. In two places, no less. The contractor that has to honour the warrantee was not impressed with us at all. They insisted we take the tower down, and that the roof be repaired to keep the warrantee valid. We consider ourselves very lucky that the Hospital did not make us pay for the repairs and did not toss us out of there completely. They even offered a number of suggestions as to how we could mount the antennas safely without getting into any trouble. Presently we are back to using the VHF unity gain antenna that used to be our packet antenna on VE3SVC, and the UHF antennas are on a wall mounted post that was empty. They both work very well in itself, and we get a good contact with one of our members who lives in Alexandria which is about 40 or 45 miles away as the crow flies.  I would be satisfied with leaving them as they are.

We had a christmas gathering on monday, December 19th at Jazz Magnolias, and had 17 attendees. We all had a good time, and a fine dinner. Here's a few pictures taken at the evening:








We wish all of you a good year in 2007, and many more after that too.

Tim Smith, VE3HCB EC Cornwall
Last updated December 30, 2006