CKARC Strikes Again!

Yesterday, May 10 / 2014, a group of hams from the Chatham-Kent Amateur Radio Club installed yet another repeater in the Chatham-Kent area. This site is called the North Chatham Site and should give coverage where no coverage has been before! Upon completion, it is expected to give excellent resultsย into nearly Sarnia to the north, Florence to the east, New Baltimore, MI to the west and possibly the south shore of Lake St. Clair to the south. Combined with the other two (three?) sites, our goal of blanketing south-western Ontario with a single repeater frequency pair will be *that* much closer.

Hats off to those who participated: VE3KNI, VE3OEN, VA3TWT, VE3LFD, VE3RHV, VE3MUN and VE3UGG. Outstanding job by all. I don’t think we will have as many pictures as the East Chatham Site but believe me when I say it was another extremely professional job! All antennas in place and feed line run. All that’s left is the electronics and some additional “inside” work. Hopefully this can be accomplished by the end of next week (or earlier) and we will have a “full service” repeater linked to the simulcast system. Pretty amazing.

NOTE: Due to the fact that hams need to build and design towers, cases, brackets (and a myriad of other things) they (over the whole) do exceptional work not only in electronics but also in machining, carpentry, design and construction of nearly anything. Most hams are very knowledgable in many areas and highly ingenious (and cheap). And, in most any group of hams, you will be able to come up with virtually any sort of odds and ends of parts and materials. Just keep that in mind if there ever is a SHTF scenario!


Big News at CKARC!

Yesterday, a group of hams from the Chatham-Kent Amateur Radio Club installed a new transmit site in the eastern edge of the county. I have never been part of this process and, although it was a lot of work, it was also a lot of fun! Our “climber/installer” did an AWESOME JOB it 100 feet in the air. Yours truly could never have done what he did so hats off to this individual. My ‘elmer’ Bill also did an excellent job installing the radios and assorted electronics at the bottom. Another ham and myself were busy fetching tools and hoisting them to the installer. Man, that 4-bay VHF antenna is HEAVY!

This project has certainly expanded the range of our repeater system. Where before you could barely hear the repeater it is now full scale and crystal clear! One or two more sites and we will once again have the premier repeater system in south western Ontario… yay!


VHF/UHF Antenna

Recently, VE3IBQ and myself added 10 feet of mast post to the tri-band VHF/UHF antenna setup. We’re now at 32 feet as opposed to 22 feet. I know, it doesn’t sound like much but boy, did it ever make a difference. It’s probably the fact that we’re now just over the surrounding buildings. Repeaters we could barely get into before (like VE3WIN in Windsor, VE3WHO in Sarnia) we get in to full quieting now. UHF performance increased even more. In fact, I spoke to another mobile in Chatham (roughly 26km – way over line-of-site which is 18km and at 50 watts to be sure) on VHF whereas before that was impossible.

Can’t wait for conditions to change to try some VHF/UHF DX on simplex. I have tried this in the past with limited success so I’m really hoping this will go better now. Wasn’t sure how much of a difference the 10 feet would make. I did do a SPLAT! that said it would make a difference but who knows how accurate that really is. Turns out it was pretty accurate. My main goal was to be able to cross-band from base to a walkie at the trailer site (about 6km away) but I’ve yet to try that. It does cross-band right across Wallaceburg now though.

Catch you on VHF simplex!


UV5R Extreme

I discovered that a UV5R walkie can be programmed to TX on one band and RX on another band. Yep it’s true. You can’t actually get it to cross band (TX and RX at the same time) but you can use two UV5R’s to make a link band repeater – and it’s pretty easy.

So here’s the scenario. One 5R as a receiver (say on UHF) and the other set on VOX (cabled together or in a pinch, speaker to speaker I guess) to TX on VHF. There ya go, instant link band repeater for <$100! No can filters or fancy diplexers of any sort, batteries built in. And you could use the stock antennas or you could make a nice little dual band antenna – cheap. Pop this up on a high building or a tethered weather balloon ๐Ÿ™‚ and Bob’s yer Uncle! Perfect for any emergency – or the hunt/fish camp.

I’ll let you know how this works out…

IMG_20140329_113523[1]Instant link band repeater!

Officially Spring

It’s officially spring and I’m a bit late at announcing it. Sorry to anyone waiting for the official word from me. Our cat has decided that the weather isn’t too-too bad and has been venturing outside from time to time. In fact yesterday, he went out to investigate a family of birds that were attempting to nest in the bushes right at the end of his ramp/fence. Not sure how successful he was at evicting them. One of the cats’ buddies keeps coming around asking him to come out and play but he’s not that interested in socializing I suppose and doesn’t respond.

And yes, our cat has 24/7/365 access to the outside via a “cat door”. I know, spoiled eh? Actually, it’s a lot easier for us because now we don’t have to continually let him in and out. Which can be annoying. I’m sure the other cats wonder how he can go right through a window because so far no other animal has come through. Our cat took a couple of days to figure it out too but now he’s a pro at it.

Spring == antenna work. There’s a few things I need to do. For example, I have to swap out my 6 meter beams. The one I have up right now, although it has good gain, only has a bandwidth of roughly 400 Khz. The other beam with slightly less gain has a bandwidth of roughly 2 Mhz. And the big job for the season is swapping the Antron 99 @ 32 feet with the Diamond tri bander @ 22 feet. This won’t make a whole bunch of difference but it will certainly help. There are a couple of repeaters that are a bit noisy to me so this will clean them up. I also need to re-locate my 80 meter sloper. Not quite sure to where but draped over the back yard won’t do for summer.

I’ll post some pics of the improved antenna farm ๐Ÿ™‚


Oh Spring Please Arrive!

I’m sitting here thinking of my next project but then I look outside and there’s still snow and it’s STILL under the freezing mark. Man, it’s been a long cold winter. I look longingly at the new air tools I have thinking how wonderful these will be to use if it was only warmer! But, what to make?

Obviously a new antenna. I have almost completed the driven element for my UHF corner reflector so I’ll get at that for sure. Hopefully installed at the highest point (oh right, I’ll need more LMR400 or 600 coax – stupid coax). Then I can probably get into Detroit on simplex.

Then there’s the whole HAM MESH thing. Need a 2.4Ghz yagi and some feedline for that too. Also need to flash the router that I got from VE3FEX (long story best told in person). Yes, I could do that in the cold but since I’ll need an outdoor antenna, I have no way to test it. Plus I need to get all my friends in the Michigan on board. This can wait until after the Dayton Hamvention where I hope to pick up an antenna for cheap.

Then there’s the problem of switching my tri-band Diamond antenna (at 22 feet) for the Antron 99 (at 34 feet). Yes, it will make a difference for my VHF/UHF range and I don’t really care about local 10/11 meter coverage. The A99 will work fine (maybe even better) for DX work so this needs to be done ASAP. Only problem is, who’s going to do it? Ya, I’m a fraidy cat at any height over 5 feet although I can walk on the roof now without peeing my pants. Good ol’ necessity eh? Once the tower climbing problem is solved (I may just have to suck it up and do it myself), I’ll have a much “hotter” station to be sure.

Also, I may try to make a much larger G5RV – the 102 foot model. Unfortunately, the tree in the front yard will have to be pressed into service for one end and the XYL isn’t too happy about that ๐Ÿ™ Too bad my neighbours aren’t into it because they have much bigger trees! Ah well.

I’ll let you know how it all turns out – like in JUNE.


Club Project

I’ve come across an aluminum supplier locally. Looks like they will sell off some of their scrap and over run materials at, I would hope, low(ish) prices. Now that’s good news! Now, what to make? Currently our club is making 40A dual, bridged power supplies. And they are coming along nicely. So, I’m thinking for our next project, we should make antennas. But, what kind? I know some of the fellows have been dabbling in 220, others 6 meters and others at HF. I know everyone has 2 meters and most have 70cm.

2 meters I think would be a good band. Everyone can no doubt use a good 2 meter antenna. Perhaps a small Yagi or even just a plain old 1/2 wave dipole as a reference antenna. And, 2 meters is much more forgiving than UHF.

I’ll have to put it to the CKARC membership and get a consensus.

Stay tuned…


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