On Saturday 25 April, ZS1VDV, ZS1V and ZS1RK visited the Hawequa site, home of the 145.650 repeater and 438.800 link repeater between Piketberg and CPUT. The 4 x 200AH backup batteries donated for the purpose were installed with their fusebox and charger.
In addition the Vertex/Motorola repeater system swapped out for a pair of Kenwoods, a TKR750 VHF and a TKR850 UHF.
The waterproofing of the antenna connectors was also inspected and found to be in good order for the coming winter.
On Sunday a team of four consisting of David ZS1DDK, Mike
ZS1TAF, Markus ZS1MTB and Rassie ZS1YT left home at 7h00 to meet at the site
gate at 8h00. The purpose of the visit was to replace the 3 cable stays on the
tower with new Stainless Steel cables, clamps and turn buckles.
A 6m dipole was also fitted to the tower for future linking
of a 6m simplex radio onto the repeater system.
Although quite a strong wind was experienced, the
temperature on top of the mountain was a very cool 18o C. Work started immediately with Mike and Markus
climbing the tower and David and Rassie fixing the cable stays on the bottom
anchor points. The team returned home by about 12h30.
The 6m Webb-antenna and Stainless Steel cable was donated by
The antenna clamps, cable ties and other hardware was
donated by Mike ZS1TAF
Travelling to the site by ZS1TAF, ZS1MTB and ZS1YT was also
On Saturday 3 November, Jan ZS1VDV and Paul ZS1V left Stellenbosch at 06:00 to visit the 145.625MHz repeater site at Voorstevlei near Piketberg.
Towards the end of October the UHF radio for the link from Piketberg to Hawequas locked into transmit. The link repeater at Hawequas had to be temporarily disabled to prevent the rest of the link network also locking in transmit.
The team arrived at the Piketberg site at around 8am. The problem was narrowed to a faulty buffer chip in the link controller. The chip was replaced with a spare and the fault cleared. The link controller was also updated to the latest firmware. A bandpass filter was also added to the receive path. That eliminated interference from a nearby DMR repeater.
At 09:45 the team packed up and departed Piketberg for Hawequas. There, the link controller settings were adjusted and a damaged connector seal on one of the antennas was repaired.
The exterior temperature sensors at both Piketberg and Hawequa have not stood up to the elements and are faulty.
Jan (ZS1VDV) and John (ZS1EQ) did a round trip to service 3 sites.
Started to load the bakkie 07:00.
Left Stellenbosch around 08:00 and reached Piketberg by 09:45
At the end of 2017, the Piketberg VHF repeater was removed. The repeater was serviced by Verstay. The final transistor was replaced. A replacement duplexer was prepared during the week. The duplexer was swapped out and VHF repeater reinstalled. SWR between duplexer and VHF radio was 1.2 and between the duplexer and antenna 1.3.
Left Piketberg 11:15 and was on Hawequa at 12:45.
The 10 amp battery charger was swapped out for a 7 amp battery charger. The 10 amp is designated to go to Hanskop.
Left Hawequa 13:45 and reached Bottelary at 14:45.
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.