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.
On Saturday morning Jan ZS1Z and Paul ZS1V went to the Jonaskop 145.675 repeater site. The repeater and link controller had been damaged during a lightning storm during the past winter. The Vertex VXR9000 repeater required some transistor replacements on its IO board and was repaired by the agents.
After the repair of the repeater, Jan spent many hours repairing the link controller and then re-aligning the audio levels between the repeater and the Riversdal and Hanskop link radios.
The team took the opportunity to also install lightning protection units on the VHF and Hanskop link antennas. These units were donated by Mike ZS1TAF. Lightning protection will be installed on the Riversdal link antenna on a future visit when we have another unit available. The various antenna feedlines were relabelled as the old labels had been removed by the weather.
The team were unable to verify the SWR on the various antennas as the WCRWG SWR meter has developed a fault. The WCRWG will likely have to look at acquiring a more robust unit suitable for field work. Donations of a Bird with the appropriate slugs would be highly appreciated and well used.
Early on Saturday morning, 13 November, Sybrand ZS1SJ and Paul ZS1V, headed to Jonaskop. The 145.675 Villiersdorp repeater is housed at the site and has been the victim, not only of the recent rounds of scheduled power outages, but also frequently of more extended power failures sometimes lasting a week or more.
Thanks to the donations of kind amateurs, clubs and Hamnet in the Western Cape, the WCRWG was able to acquire the necessary solar module and MPPT controller to charge the backup batteries, and Saturday morning provided the ideal combination of weather and installer availability to get the installation done.
The PV panel was installed at an angle of 40 degrees, that hopefully balances winter time generation and shedding of snow. The repeater enclosure is conveniently situated on the North side of the building, allowing an approximately 5 degree azimuth.
Paul and Sybrand completed the installation just before noon. Site telemetry has since confirmed the daily charge cycle of the backup batteries.
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.
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.
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.
Paul ZS1V visited Jonaskop site and replaced the power supply fuse.
It was a challenge to predict the correct maintenance slot for Jonaskop. The weather changed a few times in the week.
David ZS1DDK picked up batteries, which was fetched from him during the week by Jan ZS1VDV. Rassie ZS1YT facilitated all payments.
John ZS1EQ delivered the automatic switchover and LVD (Low Voltage Disconnect) / OVD (Over Voltage Disconnect) box to Matt ZS1MTF on Friday evening.
A team consisting of Matt ZS1MTF, Nic, James ZS1RBT, Paul ZS1V and Jan ZS1VDV went to Jonaskop to upgrade the emergency battery capacity, install the automatic switchover and LVD/OVD box, replace all cable ties (lasted about 8 years in the sun) and tension the tower stays.
Saturday morning started at 06:00 packing the vehicles.
Left home around 06:30.
08:30 stopped at site. The weather was not cold with a moderate breeze, which turned into a strong breeze as the day progressed.
11:30 done and left site.
13:00 safe home.
Matt ZS1MTF, JP ZS1JPM and Jan ZS1VDV investigated the power outage at Jonaskop. The sun was out, some wind was blowing and some left over snow was visible.
An upstream Eskom breaker was reset.
With the storms, the hut took a bit of a beating. The one air vent cover needed to be replaced and the outside temperature sensor wire repaired.
The backup battery distribution was upgrade and fuses installed. The site is now ready to take an easy install of 2 more batteries.
Jan, ZS1VDV znd Ralf, ZS1RK visited Jonaskop toe investigate why the link controller was down.
It was found that a power plug was intermittent and repaired.
The reference voltage for the temperature and battery sensors was re calibrated.
On Saturday 9 May, Jan ZS1VDV and Ralf ZS1RK visitted the Jonaskop 145.675 repeater site. High wind conditions prevented close up inspection of the antenna connections on the tower, but the SWR of all the antennas were checked and found to be good.
The VHF repeater squelch was adjusted. The audio levels were re-aligned and one coax connector was seated correctly.