Lots of fun was had today finishing up the tune on Brad VE7WBM's new HF vertical antenna, a Hustler 5-BTV.

The 5-BTV is a 5 band vertical HF fixed station antenna workable on 10, 15, 20, 40 and 80 metres.

Mike VE7KPZ joined Brad and son Byron to check each band and finally tune up the 80m element.

Scans with Mike's RigExpert AA230-Zoom antenna analyzer showed that all of the previously tuned higher-band sections were still where they needed to be (after Brad's recent trimming of the antenna mounting post).

Brad and Byron then adjusted the length of the 80m whip to get the tune for that band centered around 3.745 MHz. The 3:1 - 3:1 span of good SWR is only 80kHz wide for 80m with this antenna, so this tune will allow Brad to use 3.729 for the BSPSN as well as 3.775 for the Northern Net.

Now to find the source of the S9+10 noise that Brad picks up on 80m...

It was a fun morning,
Mike VE7KPZ

May 21, 2019

It is with a heavy hearts a crew of 4 NORAC members visited the Commonage East repeater site location to decommission VE7RIP, our previous primary low-level VHF repeater for Vernon.

Terry VE7TRZ, Nic VA7AZZ, Mike VE7MHE and Mike VE7KPZ met with a BC Hydro representative today and cleared out the shack.

The tower was very "sketchy" so safety dictated that it would not be climbed today. The Sinclair 210C4 VHF antenna and a small UHF Yagi antenna will remain at the site until BC Hydro brings up a bucket truck. They'll let us know when that will be and we can go claim our antennae at that future date.

There was one consolation prize: a large lead-acid battery (in good health) remained at the site and was donated to the club. Our plan is to bring this battery up to the Commonage West repeater site and use it to provide battery backup for the VE7EGO repeaters.

The crew was then joined by Ted VE7UIH and the VE7RIP repeater was taken to the club's storage trailer.

The VE7RIP duplexer, a 6-cavity Sinclair Res-Lok Q2330E, was taken by Mike VE7KPZ to be re-tuned to VE7RSS' frequencies. This will be an ever better swap in for VE7RSS as it currently uses the same model duplexer. Additionally, the connections on this duplexer are all N-type so no new cables will need to be made for the upcoming VE7RSS duplexer swap.

This is a bit of an end of an era for VE7RIP... but it doesn't have to be. If any club member would like to host this repeater at their QTH, please let This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. know as it would be great to see it back in service. There's nothing wrong with this repeater. It was decommissioned purely because our shack host, BC Hydro, was pulling out of the site.

FYI and 73,
Mike VE7KPZ
NORAC Vice-President 2017-2019 and Technical Committee Member

 

Photo credit: Mike VE7MHE

 

May 1, 2019

As many of you know, the club is looking to acquire a service console, so that we can start doing our own duplexer check-ups and tuning right on site. In the meantime, we go with the old approach of swapping in spare equipment at our sites and tuning the primary equipment back on the bench.

A duplexer check-up/retune for VE7RSS is about due. So, the technical committee needed to find a substitute duplexer to temporarily swap in. We would get the temporary duplexer tuned up on the bench, take it up to the site, swap it in place of VE7RSS' duplexer and then bring that duplexer back down to the valley for check-up and re-tune if required. Once checked, go back up and swap back. It's a bit more work than just simply doing the check-up and re-tune on site, but if you don't own a service console, that's how you do it.

Fortunately, just as we started looking for a spare VHF duplexer, Bill Crowther VE7VTC showed up with one. Bill and I were chatting before the NORAC HAM Basic Course Spring 2019 certification exam and he just happened to bring a Sinclair Q202G-series duplexer along in the back seat of his car. He had planned to use it for a repeater installation just South of Vernon but never got around to implementing it, so he was bringing it back to the club for re-deployment.

The duplexer was immediately transferred from Bill's car to my car and we were on to the next step: tuning it.

Today, Jane VE7WWJ and I went for a visit to Ralph Olds VA7NU's lab to check the feasibility of the duplexer (could it be tuned to VE7RSS' frequencies) and if ok, get it tuned up and ready to swap in. Ralph is likely the best duplexer tuner around given his mass of experience engineering, building and tuning a variety of RF filtration equipment professionally.

Ralph, Jane and I spent the next hour working on the task. The duplexer is actually only a 2-cavity-per-side model and usually we use a 3-cavity-per-side model for VHF with the classic 600 kHz HAM split between TX and RX frequencies. We needed to tweak the duplexer so that it favored isolation between the TX and RX frequencies over insertion loss. The result: 80 dB isolation with 1.5 dB insertion loss - just enough isolation at the expense of higher insertion loss. It will work as a temporary stand-in.

Big thanks to Ralph for his tuning efforts today. In addition to simply changing the tuned frequencies we also had to adjust the Q of the filters - more work than the usual re-tune, but worth it.

As soon as the gondola opens for summer season at SilverStar, we will head up with a work party and get the duplexer swapped. Keep an eye on the club calendar entries to find out when we plan to go.

May 28, 2019

Now, fast forward a bit and we've just decommissioned the VE7RIP repeater site. The repeater has gone to the club's storage trailer, but the duplexer has again come home with me.

Today I needed a break from regular life and took the 6-cavity ResLok Q duplexer to Ralph's place for a check up and re-tune. After a nice lunch at the Station Diner and an hour on Ralph's network analyzer, we have success: the duplexer is good and it has been re-tuned to VE7RSS frequencies.

Insertion loss is a little high at 2.3 dB on the TX side, but we're getting approximately 95 dB separation between TX and RX. With just a 600 kHz split for HAM VHF repeater frequencies, we favour the larger separation. So, we won't do any tweaking to get the insertion loss down (at the cost of decreased separation). This duplexer has a factory stated spec of 1.5 dB insertion loss at 85 dB separation... but this current resonator setup is how we found it (from VE7RIP which was a great repeater).

The best thing about this new-to-RSS duplexer is that it uses N-type connections, so no new cables will need to be made (the Q-series duplexer has UHF connectors). Also, it's a heck of a lot lighter than the Q-series, so that will help with getting it into the VE7RSS shack.

We hope to get up to SilverStar soon to do the swap.

For now,
73,
Mike VE7KPZ
NORAC Vice-President 2017-2019, technical committee member and Field Day 2019 coordinator

 

 

April 28, 2019

Many of you know Karl VE7ZDL from his antenna raising parties last year, NORAC club meetings, Field Day and Canada Day contest events.

Karl recently sent me an email update outlining what he's been up to. I thought it would be nice to re-post it here:

Five years ago I visited an old colleague who built his dream house in Japanese Wabi Sabi style on the island of Vieques and I brought my IC7000 with me to operate.

Last week I visited Vieques Island again (it is located between Puerto Rico and St. Croix) because the International IOTA organization gave Vieques a new IOTA designator NA249.