Jonaskop visit 2024-05-31

The Jonaskop site lost Eskom supply during the heavy storms of September last year. It was running 24/7 on battery and the one solar panel installed on site.

David ZS1DDK and myself left earlier today for Jonaskop (145.675) with 2 spare power supplies, some tools, spare fuses, etc. to see if we can find a fault and repair it.  We have expected either the power supply to have packed up or the earth leakage in our cubicle that has tripped.

The road leading to the site is drivable with a bakke or vehicle that is high off the ground up to the Sentech tower.  The portion form the Sentech tower to the concrete strip leading to the Eskom building is still completely washed away. With the Landrover in 4×4 and diff lock on David took the dongas on. It is huge dongas and washed out gravel! We made it and got to the Eskom site. On inspection we found that the Eskom supply has tripped in the main DB board and not in our cubicle. We opened the DB Board and switched the breaker back on.  Everything came to live and reports form ZS1TR was that he immediately noticed an increase in signal strength. (On battery the repeater switches automatically to lower power).

We also checked the SWR on the repeater antenna and at 145.07 it was close to 1.5:1 and even lower as we went a little bit lower, closer to 145.000.  See photo attached.

We locked up and left the site again. I was home at 15h30 and David at about 16h15.

George 145.700 Visit

On Monday 19 April, Francois ZS1Q and Daan ZS1DBJ visited the George 145.700 repeater. The road has not been serviced recently and is still rough going with four wheel drive required and long stretches of black, sticky mud.

The backup batteries were checked and they, and the rest of the site, were found in good order.

Jonaskop 2022-01-08

Matt ZS1MTF and Paul ZS1V visited the Jonaskop repeater site on Saturday 8 January to attend to a problem with the site telemetry. An RJ45 connector on one of the shielded ethernet cables was faulty and consequently replaced.

Maintenance George 2021-09-11

On Saturday 11 September, Francois ZS1Q visited the George 145.700 repeater site. Francois found the hut had been equipped with a new gate to upgrade the security of the equipment room.

Francois checked and topped up the water in the backup battery bank and reports that the site is still in good order.

Jonaskop Maintenance 2021-08-15

On Sunday morning, Jan ZS1Z and Paul ZS1V set out to recommission the links to Riversdale and Hanskop at Jonaskop. It was an uncharacteristically perfect weather day at the top of the mountain, with some small pockets of ice from the recent Cape winter weather still in the shady areas and slowly leeching off the towers.

Tower with ice collected below

The repeater, links and controller were reinstalled in the equipment housing. The battery and PSU voltage sensors, and the interior and exterior temperature sensors were recalibrated. The tower guys were inspected to see how they stood up to the recent storms after their pre-winter maintenance, and were found in good order. The SWR on all the antennas was tested, and these too were found to be good.

As the team was about to leave the site, testing by Trevor ZS1TR via the Jonaskop repeater and Sybrand ZS1SJ via the Hanskop repeater, revealed an issue with noise being intermittently inserted into the audio.

Jan spent a further hour or two fault-finding, eventually tracing the problem to a setting on the link controller. This setting was corrected but a short while later the problem recurred and it was found that the controller was spuriously flipping configuration bits. Several attempts were made to get the configuration corrected but every time the configuration became corrupted again.

The team was left with no choice but to remove the faulty controller and link radios. The repeater was left operational in a standalone state.

Solar install Hawequa 2021-08-08

Installing solar power for backup purposes has been a project which the WCRWG has been working on for a long time.

A few people and organizations where involved:
Paul ZS1V – ordering of hardware components
Rassie ZS1YT – Site visit planning and install
Sybrand ZS1SJ – Building custom bracket (biggest part of project), site visit planning and install.
Michael ZS1MJT – Site visit installation, buying some components
Matt ZS1MTF – equipment collection and transport
Jan ZS1Z – Site visit install
Hamnet WC – Donation towards project

Sunday 08:30 Loading of brackets, panels and hardware. Installation team ZS1YT, ZS1SJ, ZS1MJT and ZS1Z.

ZS1YT holding bracket and panel in wind

Onsite 10:15, Inside temp 6 degrees. Visibility was very limited (maybe 5 m). Was very thick mist and windy.

Can barely see hut from vehicles

Install solar panels and controller. Update link controller to have the 6m link on by default and also send morse(CW) id message every 5 min.

Left site 12:30

Home 14:30

Hanskop Maintenance 2021-07-17

Jan ZS1Z and Paul ZS1V departed for Hanskop on the morning of Saturday 17 July to diagnose and hopefully attend to some issues that had been plaguing the Hanskop repeater system recently.

The track to the Hanskop site has been steadily deteriorating over the last few years and the recent Cape winter storms only exacerbated the issue.

ZS1Z navigating the track

The repeater system was checked thoroughly. The antennas, feedlines and lightning protection units were all found to be good. The repeaters themselves were also found to be operating correctly. The linking controller was then re-initialised and the firmware reloaded before the configuration was reapplied.

Spurious activations of the repeaters on PTT release were noticed. This appears to be coming from somewhere along the chain towards the B2B side of the network and will be further investigated from CPUT.

View of False Bay, including Steenbras Dam & Gordons Bay

Jonaskop Maintenance 2021-05-23

Another early and crisp morning, Matt, ZS1MTF, Mike, ZS1MJT and Jan, ZS1VDV, met to go to the Jonaskop high site to assess the linking problem being experienced.

Matt collected Mike at 07h00 Sunday morning, also at 7 degrees.

We met Jan in Stellenbosch at 07h45 and loaded equipment we would need.

Departed Stellenbosch 08h00. A beautiful and scenic drive out to the high site.

We arrived at 10h15 and proceeded with assessing and fault finding. The weather was clear and favorable, but there was an extremely cold wind blowing.

After swapping out equipment and doing various tests, we found that there were a couple of issues with repeater, controller and radios on site.

The 2 linking radios, and the controller were removed and the 2m repeater was left on site, as it was working ok independently.

The removed equipment will be repaired and tested and then replaced again.

We left site around 12h40 and arrived back in Stellenbosch 15h20.

A special thanks to Jan, ZS1VDV for coordinating the site visit and his preparation of equipment for the day.