Sometime recently, the 147.32 repeater quit repeating. A visit to the repeater site confirmed what we pretty well already new: the repeater had failed.
A little background music maestro, please.
The 147.32 repeater was first put together using a Motorola Micor mobile for the repeater. Because a mobile radio is not designed for continuous service as found in repeater service, it left a bit to be desired and required a whole bunch of fans to blow air on it to keep it cool.
In 2004, the opportunity presented itself to purchase several Motorola MSR-2000 repeaters, removed from service by the Ontario Provincial Police in Canada. Now here was a real repeater radio, designed for repeater service. Big, beefy, and designed to run keyed up forever. We installed one for the 147.32 repeater and one for the 146.84 repeater. Of course, they had been in service in Canada for more than 20 years, and were being replaced because of their age. For us though, they were great.
In 2015, Yaesu announced a program of deep discounts for clubs to purchase their new analog/digital repeater, the model DR-1x. The DR-1x was synthesized and could operate on either the 2 meter or the 70cM bands. The club purchased two of these new repeaters and installed them at the City Radio site, replacing the existing radios used for 146.84 and 444.050 MHz. In reading the fine print of the specifications after we received the radios, we discovered they were rated at only 20 watts for 100% duty cycle, as you have in FM repeater service. But we put them in anyway, and they have worked very well.
Now comes 2020, and the MSR-2000 radio used for the 147.32 repeater has failed. In discussing the issue with some club members, the question was asked “Why don’t we just buy new ones?”
Good question. A little research found that Yaesu still had a program of offering deep discounts on their analog/digital repeaters, which now were new and improved. The DR-1x was now upgraded to the DR-2x, which was rated for 100% duty cycle at 50 watts, a decided improvement over the DR-1x. The DR-2x also supported the use of an external controller, which was one of my major gripes about the earlier model. On August 17, an application to purchase two DR-2x repeaters was sent to Yaesu in California. On August 19, we were informed our application was approved and the repeaters were delivered on August 22.
We are currently working to remove the old MSR-2000 from the repeater site (remember what I said earlier about it being big and beefy) and install the new DR-2x. I am very optimistic that this can be done in time for our Skywarn Net on August 27. It will be a temporary installation at first without all the bells and whistles we had previously, but it will get us back on the air. The bells and whistles will come later.
Now for some even better news. NARC has a sister organization NCEC (Nacogdoches County Emergency Communications). NCEC is a 501c3 entity, which allows donations to NCEC to be tax deductible. NCEC was formed to fund capital expenditures, such as the purchase of new repeaters, and this is what was done to fund the purchase of the new DR-2x radios. There may be some minor expenses required by this project that will be funded by NARC, but the major expense will be covered by NCEC.
So, keep an ear on 147.32. You may hear some initial testing as the new radio is installed at the repeater site. And come net time Thursday, check out 147.32 first. I’m hopeful it will be back on the air.
By the way, I was rather surprised the other day to discover I have gotten a little bit older. I knew I was going to get older, but I sure didn’t know it would happen so soon. Anyway, I would be delighted to have a younger member of the club step up and express an interest in learning how the repeaters work and to work towards taking on the responsibility for them in the future. Free training will be provided. Just call me.
Editor’s note: Thanks to help from Rusty KD5GEN, and from a couple of strong young firemen, the old MSR-2000 repeater and a very large, very heavy battery were removed on Tuesday, August 25, and a new Yaesu DR-2x was installed and put on the air. It’s a temporary installation as it does not include the external controller, so no voice announcements, yet. That will come hopefully in the not too distant future. Stay tuned!