Earlier this year, Yeasu announced a short lived upgrade offer for their DR1-X repeaters to DR2-X repeaters. The AARC owns 4 DR1-X repeaters and has a half interest with the Maryland Mobileers on a 5th. We received notice of it only a few days from expiration, and did not have time to act one way or the other. Then Yeasu announced the upgrade offer would be extended through the end of April. John Williams (K8JW) who manages our club's repeaters, said he needed time to review the offer, and to determine if it was something we should consider. A few weeks later John got in touch with us saying he was ready to make a recommendation, and the Board started trying to find a date to meet that John was available. After trying unsuccessfully for nearly a month, on March 27th John Williams notified the Board that he wouild be available in two days. The Board quickly arranged a meeting. The Board has since approved the following language to describe what then happened.
On March 29th, 2018 the Board met with John Williams (K8JW) who heads the club’s Repeater Committee, and who has done so since the early 1980’s. The intent was to get his opinion of whether the Club should, or should not take part in Yeasu’s Upgrade offer for the 4 Fusion repeaters we own, and the 1 which we own in equal partnership with the Maryland Mobileers. The Upgrade in question will convert existing DR1-X repeaters to DR2-X repeaters, and give us a new 3 year guarantee on all 5 repeaters. John, after spending some hands-on time with both DR1-X and DR2-X repeaters, told the Board that the power amplifier in the DR2-X repeater is vastly superior to that found in the DR1-X.
At the same time John reminded us of the age of many of our repeaters, and the lack of replacement parts available. Apparently we have been scavenging parts for these units for years in order to keep them operational. With none being manufactured, eventually the supply of critical parts will run out.
Before you read John’s recommendations, you should be aware of how the 147.105 and 147.075 repeaters currently link. There are no linking repeaters, nor is it done by phone or Internet. There is a transceiver in the club house that currently handles the job, even though it was never designed to run continuously. When the 147 .105 repeater is keyed up, this transceiver is put into transmit mode, and it sends out a signal on the input frequency of the 147.075 repeater. When the 147.105 repeater is unkeyed the transceiver goes into receive mode listening to 147.075. If it hears anything the 147.105 machine is keyed and transmits. This transceiver is one of the weakest links in our repeater system, and according to John, the plan has been all along to replace it with one of the Yeasu Fusion repeaters set up to run in the same manner. Unlike the transceiver now in use the Yeasu Fusion is designed to run round the clock and should hold under continuous operation.
You should be aware that the Anne Arundel Radio Club covers expenditures made in the course of a normal year’s operation via budget. This budget does not include funding for upgrades, replacement equipment, or new equipment. This system was set up on purpose. It allows the Board to operate from the budget for yearly expenditures, while having to go to the Membership for approval on larger, and more irregularly timed expenditures. Our Treasurer, Justin Leishman (KC3BJT) tells us the club does have sufficient funds for all of the recommendations found in this notice.
What follows is what John Williams (K8JW) recommended to us, and based on his recommendation, what the Board is now recommending to you.
- Recommend the purchase of the Yeasu Upgrade for the 442.300 DR1-X repeater with we own jointly with the Maryland Mobileers for a total of $350 to include shipping and necessary interconnect.
(NOTE: Gordon Davids (WJ3K) of the Maryland Mobileers reported that they have already approved their $350 share of this purchase.)
- Recommend the purchase of the Yeasu Upgrade for the 440.400 repeater for a price of $650 to include conversion to C4FM and analog FM for $650 including shipping.Further recommend the Yeasu Upgrade for the 147.105 to 147.075 link transceiver function at a cost of $650 including shipping. Further recommend the Yeasu Upgrade for the 147.105 and 147.075 backup repeaters for a cost of $1300 including shipping.
(NOTE: Total cost of these recommended upgrades is $2600, and includes upgrading all 4 of the DR1-X repeaters owned outright by the AARC.)
At this same meeting John Williams (K8JW) informed the Board that he would soon be using a drone, with camera, to examine the 147.105 repeater’s antenna for possible damage. In particular he suspects that the drainage hole at the bottom of one or more of the antenna loops may have rusted through completely, thus rendering the entire antenna defective.
Noting that the Board is now in process of contracting for an antenna crew to inspect the tower, that inspection may provide the ideal time for antenna replacement if needed. John also informed the Board that any replacement antenna would have to utilize the PIM offset pattern as previously approved by T-MARC for the 147.105 repeater. John also suggested such an antenna would likely cost less than $2500, but the exact amount is yet to be determined.
Further John Williams (K8JW) suggested due to numerous lightning hits to our tower over the years, we should consider replacement of the lightning arrestors at this time.
John also informed us that if a new antenna is required the N connector on our coax would have to be replaced with a DIN connector, as the standards have changed for this connection. The good news is that such a connector would be included in the cost of the antenna.
Again what follows is what John Williams (K8JW) recommended to us, and based on his recommendation, what the Board is now recommending to you.
- Recommend the purchase of a new antenna system for the 147.105 repeater complete with proper PIM antenna pattern, if it can be shown, thatthe current antenna is defective and requires replacement.Total cost not to exceed $2500.
(NOTE: Again, a drone with camera will be sent aloft to determine if such damage exists.If not, then no action would be taken.If and only if damage is found, and the antenna is defective, then a suitable new antenna would be purchased in time for the tower inspection crew to complete the installation. )
- Recommend the purchase of replacement lightning arrestors for the repeater system at a cost not to exceed $200.
John Williams (K8JW) and Gordon Davids (WJ3K) both suggested the AARC should consider the creation of an APRS 144.39 node, at our clubhouse location, with an antenna to be mounted atop our 40 foot tower closest to the Ham Shack corner of the clubhouse. It appears that for APRS purposes, complete repeater coverage of Anne Arundel County has not yet been achieved. One of the major unresolved issues is the lack of coverage in the vicinity of our clubhouse and other portions of Davidsonville. A repeater at the AARC clubhouse should resolve that issue completely.
What follows is what both John Williams (K8JW) and Gordon Davids (WJ3K) recommended to us, and based on their recommendation, what the Board is now recommending to you.
- Recommend to the Membership, the purchase an Alinco DR-135T for a cost not to exceed $170 and an Argent T3-135S TNC for a cost not to exceed $90.Antenna for same not to exceed $200.All three purchases to be for creation of an APRS repeater for use at the Anne Arundel Radio Club clubhouse.
(NOTE: The Argent T3-135 TNC is a Tracker3 APRS board designed specifically for the Alinco DR-135T)