November 26, 2017 - Trip to the VE7EGO Site on Commonage for Winter Prep (Phase 6)


VHF repeater changes made for phase 1 of the club's WiresX linking project. UHF repeater now using a duplexer and officially coordinated frequencies. Shack assessment and cleanup.


Terry VE7TRZ
David VA7SZ
Aaren VA7AEJ (remotely)


The usual route was taken to access the "EGO" Commonage site. The road was clear of snow and not very muddy. It was a beautiful day to visit the site with Terry's 4Runner and Mike's Unimog.

Just before heading up to the site, Brad notified Kevin at 250-744-0732 who is in charge of exploding/disposing of WW2 munitions still in the hillsides. Upon departure from the site, Brad called Kevin again to notify him of our departure. Kevin likes to know both the ins and outs of our visits to the site.

Tasks Undertaken:

First was the reconfig of the VHF Yaesu DR-1X repeater for phase 1 of the club's WiresX linking project. FYI, phase 1 of the project consists of facilitating all club members with analog VHF radios to try out the WiresX Canada room. The repeater was set to fixed FM in an out with a CTCSS tone of 123.0 Hz to open the squelch for TX. The same 123.0 Hz tone was put on the output as well. ID was turned off as the WiresX box would now be doing the local IDing (we do not want our repeater to ID inside the WiresX rooms, only locally). Also, squelch tail set to 0ms. Once reconfigured, Aaren VA7AEJ proceeded to test from his own shack where the WiresX node is currently being configured and tested (before final location move to Brad's house for optimal signal). Other HAMs from across Canada assisted Aaren with the testing.

As a safety check, Brad did a scan of the VE7EGO VHF duplexer (TX and RX sides) with Mike's RigExpert AA230 Zoom antenna analyzer to confirm all was still good tuning-wise. The scans show the filters are still working as they should with SWR <1.2 for both TX and RX.

Next, the UHF Yaesu DR-1X repeater was re-tuned to the officially coordinated frequencies (see Frequencies page on this site for details) and an output CTCSS tone of 123.0 Hz was added for the analog FM output. No tone is required for getting in to this repeater, but as the repeater is running in Auto/Auto mode, if you are an analog user who can't use C4FM and this repeater is in your scan bank, now you can filter out digital transmissions.

The UHF Yaesu DR-1X repeater was then connected to a recently donated UHF duplexer. Freeway Communications via Mark Martin VA7CMM, one of our new club members, offered the duplexer to Mike at "disposal" pricing. Mike bought the duplexer and then turned around and donated it to the club. The duplexer was tuned to the coordinated frequencies by Mark and Ralph Olds VA7NU for maximum separation and lowest insertion loss. Thanks everyone for your generous contributions.

The new duplexer came just in time. Previously the UHF repeater was running a dedicated antenna for RX and another for TX (vertically separated). However, in the recent winds, the antenna at the top of the tower cracked in half. So, with only one useable UHF antenna left (located on the power box) the need of a duplexer was a necessity. As we had no tower climber this weekend, Terry simply grounded the feed line for the broken antenna. We will remove what's left of it in the spring. We may also relocate the remaining UHF antenna higher up on the tower to get better HAAT... but please give it a test and see.

A check of the SWR, power and TX frequency for the UHF repeater was done via Mike's Surecom. After the duplexer and before the feed line: SWR is 1.28, power is 12.7 watts and frequency is right on at 442.500.

Next, the shack was cleaned out. Some items were taken to Terry's home, some items were taken to Brad's home and some items were taken to the NORAC trailer at the BC Hydro storage lot. Terry and Brad will be compiling lists of the items and their conditions. Once we have those lists, we'll update this trip report.

Lastly, the internet connection at the site was analyzed. It appears to be a direct internet connection with approx 15 Mbit/s down, 6 Mbit/s up. Ping times to are very reasonable. Internet IP is DHCP but dynamic DNS appears possible. We control the router on site so firewall config is possible. Mike logged into the router and disabled the open WiFi network that was setup. In summary, this internet connection will work well for an IRLP node and an APRS iGate - two projects that are on our schedule to implement for the spring of 2018.


A) #8 or #10 or #12 3/4" galvanized bolt, washers and nut to fix a rivet on one of the cross members. As per Terry, it is in section 4, 5 or 6 - high up on the tower. We will need a tower climber to remedy.

B) Mount the plaque (with bracket) commemorating tower to Kevin Kienlein VE7EGD (SK). Last update: Bob VE7EZI has the plaque and is working on a mounting setup.

C) Determine plan of action for the 4-bay VHF antenna and implement it.

D) Get IRLP node back in service (existing IRLP computer power supply dead - we may look at a BeagleBone/RPi solution). Terry doing further assessment of existing hardware and radio at his home.

E) Setup an APRS iGate at the site as we currently don't have a local iGate with good HAAT.



Terry VE7TRZ's Updates at November 27, 2017:
First, the NORAC 1050 IRLP node which Jesse VE7LYD moved back to the shack (sometime in late summer) has several issues:
  1. the dual-band mag-mount antenna has fallen off the shack roof (as the roof tin is not thick enough to keep the magnet steady on the roof with snow load)
  2. PC power supply dead
  3. several bulged caps on the mother board which are known to cause intermittent issues with the proper CPU/memory operations
  4. IDE hard drive is screaming (usually a sign that the main spindle bearing is failing so should be replaced)

There is a good chance that this PC could be rejuvenated. Understand that it is already configured properly plus has an IRLP specific part (NORAC purchased this 12+ years back) which is required to control the UHF radio. The alternative would be to purchase a new IRLP replacement PiRLP3 here for around $540 CAD all-in with taxes and shipping, or we repair this existing PC and use it until we have a new replacement.

Second, the shack's exhaust fan is continually running. We may want to consider finding a temperature/humidity controller for this fan so it isn't running continuously.

Third, the door locks are still very difficult to both lock/unlock. We will need to remember to take some graphite lock lubricant and a dremel with metal grinder tool to clean up the latches on our next site visit.

All of the equipment not being used in the shack has been removed as follows:

- IRLP node                       VE7TRZ
  UHF Radio
  Multi-Band MagMount Antenna
  PC e/w Mouse, Keyboard, Monitor
- XP Windows rackmount PC       VE7TRZ

- Kenwood HF Radio and P/S      VE7WBM

- 4 Speakers                      Trailer

- 2 UPSes                        Trailer

- 1 Crossband repeater with rack     Trailer

- 4 satellite rackmount devices Trailer

Lastly, we may want to consider purchasing some N(m)-N(m) 3' and 6' patch cables plus some N(f)-PL259(m) adapters (some of the lightning Arrestors are PL259 to match up with PL259 antenna's) for future projects. Specifically, the IRLP radio antenna cable was too short.