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  1. Ryan Harden
  2. Sherlock Holmes
  3. WI HAM Radio
  4. Friday, 03 April 2020
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I'll toss this here so I can keep you all updated on our Repeater build.

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First, let's go over why we have a repeater like many 4x4 clubs across the country do.

When we do large rides, we wanted to make sure that we had a way to communicate between groups. As we've grown, the need to spread out 20-200 rigs is now an issue we must deal with. The idea is the have our certified Trail Ambassadors take out groups of about 10 on the trails and overlanding tours we'd set up in an area for whatever larger event we'd be posting.

Most of the handhelds people are buying are duel band. This means that the radio can actively monitor and transmit on 2 different sets of frequencies with just the push of a button. So it's looking like Trail Ambassadors are getting the larger 50 watt ham radios (as are many members) that would be able to communicate with a base station that would presumably be at the campsite or trail head somewhere higher up on a hill. The idea is that each rider group has a low-power inner-rig communication setup and then said group can also monitor the repeater where groups are talking between one another.

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In an ideal world, Trial Ambassadors or at least someone from each group would be using APRS so that all groups can see each other on a map in real time, off grid. This would keep near groups from running head to head on the same trail which is handy if the trail doesn't have enough room to pass (many trails are like this). Over the last few events at Sinawa, this feature tested VERY positively in that Trail Guides could see where all the groups are and plan accordingly without tying up the airwaves. The Jan ride in 2020 let a lot of groups go out on an small trail network without running into one another. I digress...

We want to have ways to get our signals across larger distances and a repeater allows us to do that.



The repeater we have is the Yaesu DR-2X. It can be set up on 2 meter, 70CM and is cross-band capable. So we could have an input on 2 meters and output on 70 cm... so basically it can do VHF or UHF which is nice in a real world environment. Our focus is on 2 meter right now, but 70cm UHF is nice for better signal in a lot of dense forest, etc. IT can also do C4FM digital and Wires-X digital which is handy if members want to listen in or communicate on our ride from around the world. We are getting a HRI-200 Internet Linking Kit from Yaesu so we'll have a dedicated digital room for daily communications with our radios as well.

Here's some of the features of our repeater -


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Another cool feature of this repeater is to connect repeaters together for larger coverage area via the internet. In the future, if we have clubs opening up around the nation, it may be possible to have repeaters set up for each club and link the repeaters.

Repeaters have to work where they don't interfere with one another and there are a lot of repeaters in WI. Some may ask, well then why don't we just use those? And we do, but during large rides, we'll tie up those repeaters to the point where nobody else will be able to use them and then sometimes the repeater owner will just turn off the repeater. We can get permission to use repeaters in the area as well which is standard protocol, but for large events, we'd be talking so much, we'd need out own repeater. There are bands in each state that are dedicated for temporary repeater use and we try and pick frequencies that are always the same so we don't have to-tune the antennas and duplexers that go along with the repeater operation.

The repeater building process is a slow one where we can build this up and get the equipment we need over time. A repeater needs a few things to work such as a box rack to protect it, antenna, mast, cable, duplexer (that allows you to use just one antenna), and power supply. Working with local clubs and experts in these areas allows us to obtain affordable equipment, much of which is used. We can upgrade equipment as time goes on and as the see the need. This is a big step so we're taking it slow.

This thread will keep updating on the status of the repeater.
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Yesterday we scored a nice tunable low plane repeater antenna brand new in the box. It's a hustler repeater antenna that the Manitowoc county club didn't end up using. If we like it and it works, they only wanted $100 for it. It has a really nice signal pattern and should work well for what we're doing.

We're inquiring about some used retractable antenna masts and drive on base plates that a WI Club no longer uses as they went to a trailer tower setup, might be able to snag one of those for cheap. Pic is an example only.
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We may be able to get a military box with handles for cheap or free. I was going to get a SKB rack mount box as I've been very happy with those over the years of carrying my audio gear for races and band work. But if we can mod a military box, that'll do the same thing without the cost. Pic is an example only.
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We may be able to get Motorola duplexers for next to nothing, checking on that as well. Pic is an example only.
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I'm willing to donate my nice power supply to this project as it's needed as well as using my camper for the base station to run the wires, Honda 3000 inverted sin wave generator, and most of the cables needed as such.
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Again, taking this slow and watching for free or deal-type stuff to get up and running without a lot of investment.
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Today Brian Turk donated this very heavy duty military electric instrument case. Thank Brian! We will mount the server rack in here for the repeater, power supply, duplexer, amplifier, and wires x module.
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Yesterday the wires x module came in. Just waiting on the new cables.
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Had some time to get the antennas up and tested. A few adjustments are still needed but now it's on to getting the wiresx node connected to the repeater.

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The repeater is operational and we should be able to have it live next week in Kiel. It'll also be networked to the WiresX RL4WD room AND linked to the Sheboygan system fusion repeater. We finally found a repeater guru who's willing to donate his time to make this all happen beyond what I can do.

Our group of Ham radio folks that helped us are also talking about putting together a Wisconsin Ham Radio C4FM or SEWI Ham club of some kind. Naturally, it'll be heavily focused on recreation and 4x4 stuff. I donated the office here for their club meeting if they want it and keeping this relationships should aid us in our stuff should we need it. These network and IT folks are seriously talented and together, I think we can all achieve great things to meet the needs of 4x4 communication around the state and beyond.

We may apply for a permanent frequency in Kiel as well as having the statewide open temporary frequencies we now have in the books through ARES/RACES and such. So far, I think we're doing this right.

I would like to see a fusion statewide repeater network along with 4x4 HF long distance communication setups so when we have clubs coming on from other states, we can chat and communicate off-grid for emergencies, who's riding what trails, remote recovery and aid, etc. Ham is the bomb for all that.

For the end user with a handheld or mobile rig, we're trying to make it as easy as "push button then talk to people". It's very doable now that we have more help.
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  1. 2 weeks ago
  2. WI HAM Radio
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