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.
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.
During June and July reports were received that the linked system from Riversdale –Danabaai-George were only operating in the East to West direction but not West to East.
Mike ZS1TAF did some tests during August and Rassie ZS1YT also followed up with some tests when mobile in the area.
It was concluded that the Storno UHF link radio from Riversdale to Danabaai had no audio when in TX.
Rassie contacted Chris Scarr ZS2AAW in PE and he confirmed that this issue is as a result of a blown capacitor on the TX board.
A trip to site to replace the cap was the only solution.
Wednesday 28 /10 at 4h30 Mike ZS1TAF left home to David ZS1DDK. At 5h00 they left to pick-up Rassie ZS1YT and hit the road to Klipkop.
The trio left the Strand at 5h45.
Arrived on site at 9h00.
Whilst David replaced the blown capacitor, Mike climbed the tower and checked the 3 antennas and their connections. Some cable ties were added where needed.
Rassie only went along to show the route and open and close all the gates on the dirt road!
A test was done to Trevor ZS1TR and the report was that the link radio was working fine but the deviation was a bit low. With telephone assistance form Chris Scarr the deviation was corrected as best as possible.
At 11h30 work was completed and the group returned to Cape Town.
Paul ZS1V and Jan ZS1VDV did some maintenance on site. This was the 3rd attempt to go to site. The previous attempts failed due to a GSM failure on site preventing de-arming of the alarm. Last night a remote was used to de-arm the alarm. For a few while the alarm did scream inside the hut (an unpleasant experience that is not recommended).
Left for site: 16:30
The WiFi based site internet link device firmware was updated and the link reconfigured. The Multimode Digital UHF repeater and VHF DSTAR repeaters are back consequently back online.
Some power maintenance was done and monitoring equipment installed.
The Allstar link node was installed. It is currently running on 433.500 MHz simplex. This node is linked to the WCRWG hub node, which has a permanently linked node to the Gifberg 145.7375 repeater. Once testing is complete, the link node radio will be switched to link to the Hawequa 438.800 UHF repeater, bringing Gifberg onto the main link network.
Some general network maintenance was completed.
The weather on site was foul and the wind made the walk out with equipment in the dark treacherous.
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.