Jan (ZS1VDV) and Rassie (ZS1YT) went to Hanskop reconfigured the repeater controller and did all measurements for the big site power upgrade and antenna migration.
Most site visits starts the evening before the time with a 1 hour planning and packing session.
Tools and Spares for trip
Wake up 06:30, pack vehicle.
Leave for Strand 07:30 from Stellenbosch.
Pickup key 07:45.
Drive to site, which was very long and challenging drive. Had to “find” a way to the top.
“Finding” the road
MMMM, where to now?
Some holes with bakkie for size reference
08:45 arrive on site.
With all the power interruptions and no backup power, the site controller’s EPROM got corrupted. Reprogrammed the controller. Changed default for links to VHF and East. (please see updates DTMF updates on Hanskop)
Did some detail measurement for coax and battery placements.
10:00 left site.
11:45 Home in Stellenbosch
12:00 Finished unpacking.
View from top in mist
Mast in mist
ZS1SCI (Ohan) and ZS1VDV (Jan) went to site around 17:00
UHF repeater ZU9DMR running DMR, D-Star and YSF
The reconfigured UHF repeater ZU9DMR was reinstalled on site.
A new gateway was installed for the VHF D-Star repeater.
Last view of site, with alarm activated
The site was left around 18:45. The drive down in the dark and mist was a big challenge.
Jan ZS1VDV and Paul ZS1V left Stellenbosch at 10am for the Jonaskop repeater site, home of the 145.675 repeater. It has been some time since the last visit to the site and the access road condition has deteriorated significantly. Somewhat delayed by a puncture to one of the bakkie’s tyres, the team arrived on site just after midday.
Antenna SWR measurements on the VHF stack and both link antennas were found to be acceptable. Output power of the repeater and both links, was also as expected.
Jan patched the link controller to take care of a slight crackle on the audio, most easily noted in the 2m repeater tail.
Jan busy with the link controller
Some more tests pointed to a problem with the Hanskop link radio (possibly off frequency). This was removed and the team departed at around 15:00.
Pleasant conditions at around 15C, overcast and no wind
Jan and Paul arrived back in Stellenbosch just after 17:00.
The UHF back2back link was moved from the QTH of ZS1DDK to Libertas on 4 November by ZS1DDK and ZS1TAF.
More maintenance was done today by ZS1VDV and ZS1TAF.
Today the equipment was moved on to racks in the cabinet and a link controller was installed. A powerpole distribution block was added and all power connections migrated to powerpoles.
Rack with radios and controller
This controller can now be used to link or unlink the back2back via DTMF codes.
8500 = Link
8504 = Unlink
On Wednesday 27 September at about 16:30, Paul ZS1V, Jan ZS1VDV and Wiaan ZS1WB met a representative of our Internet sponsor at the Helderberg high site to install one of the WCRWG Motorola SLR5500 DMR repeaters. The Helderberg high site is one of the easier ones to access due to its relatively low position at around 500m ASL and its proximity to the urban area of Somerset West.
Despite the relatively low elevation in comparison to other WCRWG high sites it is quite prominent above the 100m ASL average ground level. Good coverage is expected over most of the False Bay side of Cape Town, the Cape Flats and Northwards to Stellenbosch.
The team installed a Webb HD400 UHF dipole antenna and a short run of about 8m of EC4-50 Heliax. Shielded and UV resistant UTP cable was run from the repeater enclosure to a nearby enclosure for the DMR repeater’s Internet access. The SLR5500s configuration was updated to reflect the new IP environment before everything was tested and found to be satisfactory. Antenna SWR was measured at 1.2:1.
A first QSO on the new repeater was had on talkgroup 655 between Paul ZS1V and Koos ZS5KDK before the team wrapped up and left the site just before 19.00.
On Tuesday 25 July, Sean ZS1BSD and Paul ZS1V headed to Constantiaberg to attend to the 145.700 repeater which was transmitting, but not modulating. The weather was only a few degrees above freezing and it was raining with only 10m visibility at times. The lower part of the road was muddy an churned up by the heavy logging equipment in use in the area that is still clearing up the remains of the fire that devastated the area about 18 months prior.
Although the Motorola appeared to be working after a reset, it was removed for further testing and diagnosis and the PRF1050 backup repeater was installed in its stead. The PRF1050 has been fitted with a new CTCSS decoder, courtesy of Sean ZS1BSD. The required CTCSS deviation level is now more in line with typical commercial repeaters and not the very high levels required by the previous CTCSS decoder on the PRF1050.
Access to the site remains challenging. Specific access arrangements had to be made with the nature conservation officials with the help of Sentech.
ZS1BSD appreciating the fine conditions
Jan (ZS1VDV) and Rassie (ZS1YT) went to Hanskop to investigate the controller not responding to DTMF.
Started packing vehicle 06:30, left Stellenbosch 07:00.
Had to drive very slowly up as the road is in very bad condition and had the sun just over the horizon.
On site by 08:15. The temperature outside was 1.2 degrees, the wind was cutting through everything.
The problem with the controller was found to be interference on the 145.600 Repeater. The interference is not from our equipment but most likely from WISP equipment.
The 145.600 repeater’s SQL was closed to 1.1uV (about 4 times more that what it should be). This only helps about 80% of the time. The interference will need more work/investigation.
All SWR was checked. VHF repeater (1.1), UHF repeater (1.1), Jonaskop link (1.6).
CTCSS was added to the 434.650 repeater.
Home at Stellenbosch by 12:45.
Today Jan ZS1VDV and David ZS1DDK went to the site to service the power problem.
It was found that the DC power distribution box was faulty and replaced.
VHF repeater SWR was tested (1.2)
UHF repeater SWR was tested (1.4)
Backup battery voltage was measured (13.8V)
Jan, ZS1VDV went to Hawequa to investigate why the 650 VHF repeater was not working. The worst was suspected, that the mast did not survive the storms. Luckily this was not the case. The mast and building was in good condition.
It was found that the repeater was on, but as soon as it started to transmit it restarted. After long debugging, it was found that the repeater was not at fault but the dc power distribution box and power supply. The fault was corrosion on the conductors in the connectors (dust and soot blasted in by the storms, as well as intermittent power would have caused this), as well as crackling sound in the power supply.
The power supply will have to be replaced on a next visit and serviced.
It was great to see the water flowing off the mountain.
On Saturday 2017-05-20, Paul ZS1V and Rassie ZS1YT headed to Jonaskop to investigate a problem with crackly audio on the 145.675 Jonaskop repeater and to attend to some pre-winter preventative maintenance.
The weather was sunny, but cold, with a fresh cold breeze that could be felt as soon as one was a few meters up the tower. Most of the area to the South and East of Jonaskop was under thick cloud.
Overberg under a blanket
The SWR of the VHF antenna was found to be good. On previous visits water had been found in the connection between the feedline and the 4-stack antenna, despite there being a good water seal at that point. The phasing harness has a plastic tube section and extra precautions against moisture entering the system at that point were taken.
The link controller was also attended to, and audio crackle eliminated by re-seating some of the ICs.
An adjustment was made to the repeater configuration to make it go back to the desired setting after a power interruption.