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

Maintenance Bottelary 20201229

Paarl and Stellenbosch from Bottelary

Jan ZS1VDV and Melissa ZS1MEL went to investigate the DMR repeater outage.

The repeater was rebooted and updated. A future upgrade of the operating system on the repeater will be required, but this will first need to be tested before hand.

The fan on the Allstar link radio was realigned and secured.

The building was fumigated for insects.

Sir Lowry’s Pass to Bellville from Bottelary

Maintenance Hawequa 20201223

Fitting 6m (51.550) simplex link to existing repeater system.

Sometime back it was decided that it will be a worthwhile experiment to fit a 6m simplex link to the existing VHF/UHF repeater system on Hawekwa, above Paarl.

The intention is for local stations to experience some 6m activity but also for distance stations to make use of specific propagation methods to access the VHF/UHF repeater system in Cape Town.

Previously the radio was programmed and the necessary cables made up and installed on site by Jan ZS1VDV.

The missing part was a proper 6m antenna.

On Wednesday 23 December David ZS1DDK, Mike ZS1TAF and Rassie ZS1YT left home at about 5h30 to do the necessary installation of the antenna.

Arrived on site at 7h20.  Outside temperature 11°C and completely over cast.  (At the foot of the mountain it was 23°C with some clouds.)

The site covered in cloud this morning

David did some homework by installing supports to the antenna as the site is well known for wind speeds of up to 150km/h

Whilst Mike and David installed the antenna Rassie got the SWR meter and cables out for the testing of the antenna.

ZS1TAF on the tower

The SWR checked at 1,2:1 and on the air tests followed. A number of stations called in on either the 145.650 repeater or the 51.550 simplex link and in both directions the 6m link was operating well.

The party left at about 9h30 and returned home.

The final installation

Thank you to the following people for sponsoring MONEY, TIME and KNOWLEDGE:

6m Radio      Members of Boland ARK

6m S/S folded dipole antenna and brackets:     David ZS1DDK

Setting up of radio and linking cables:     Jan ZS1VDV

Climbing the tower in wet conditions:      Mike ZS1TAF

Travelling: ZS1DDK, ZS1TAF, ZS1YT.

Maintenance George 20201104

The UHF link radio at George was damaged during a lightning storm.

This resulted in the UHF radio keying up the 145.700 repeater continuously. For sometime this radio was switched off.

Chris ZS2AAW, who has lots of experience with the Storno radios, suggested that an op-amp in the linking interface be replaced.

On Wednesday Francois ZS1Q and Daan ZS1DBJ from George visited the high site and replaced the op-amp. Tests were confirmed afterwards and the George to Cape Town link responded positive.

The standby battery water is also regularly topped up by Francois.

Thanks to Francois and Daan for walking the extra mile to keep the western Cape Repeaters in proper shape.

The George repeater site overlooking the Indian ocean.
The George standby batteries.

Maintenance Klipkop Riversdale 20201028

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.

Distance travelled +- 600 km. 

Welcoming us!
Basic Storno Repair 101
Mike going up the tower.
The culprit
The Trio
It was very early start!

Maintenance Bottelary 20200929

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.

Home and unpacked 20:30.

Maintenance Jonaskop 20200912

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.

Replacing cable ties and working on 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.

Vehicles parked n top and mast (left)

11:30 done and left site.

13:00 safe home.

Maintenance Jonaskop 20200719

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.