NARA News

Febuary 1997 DRAFT !

Be aware of Dated Info ! this archive is for historical purposes only

 

NARA Officers:

President: Ron Shaffer KS4LU, ks4lu@nadxc.org, 881-8105

Vice President: Bennie Durham, WA5KRG, bdurham@airnet.net, 971-8936

Treasurer: Todd Freestone, KD4ALP, todd.freestone@msfc.nasa.gov, 721-7558

Secretary: Don Tunstil, W4NO, dtunstil@iquest.com, 536-3904

Technical Advisor: Leigh Bartlow, WD4CPF, lbartlow@airnet.net, (205)-498-2385

 

Planned Meetings: (At the Red Cross Building on Washington St in Huntsville)

Friday July 25th, 1997 at 7:30 PM - NARA mid year update

Friday January 9th, 1998 at 7:30 PM - NARA 1998 Kickoff - Election of Officers.

 

New Command Sheets:

It has been a labor of love that produced this Newsletter and accompaning command sheets. It was put together over a four week period on 5 different computers (including an HP palmtop) five minutes to a half an hour at a time. I have learned to make the most of my time in these busy days. I am excited about the things we have put in motion this year in the NARA. It started by getting lots of feedback from you the users with surveys at the meeting. In general, we have tried to create an atmosphere that would invite more activity on the NARA repeaters by doing things like lengthening timers and enabling more user features on our repeaters, believing that most users like to have them available and are responsible stewards of them.

NARA has just received it’s own club call; KF4OUK. We could convert this to a Vanity call for future use on one or our repeaters so if you have any suggestions on a catchy or useful call, let us know. This July, NARA will be supporting the Wally Bynum Carivan Club (WBCCI) in their Huntsville based rally. You will hear lots of them on the ’94 machine along with simplex frequencies with various activities including talk-ins nets etc. Lets give them a warm Huntsville welcome. NARA dues are $12 per year per family. NARA is glad to accept donations to improve it’s capabilities. We are in pretty good shape right now, however we have a lot of hardware updates on the slate for this year.

 

E-mail updates:

With so many of us on the internet, it is only logical that we use this to our advantage to enhance the communication amoung NARA members. We are building a database of E-mail adresses to use primarily in a broadcast mode to help keep up the flow of information to the general membership without additional mail-outs and associated postage. When you get an E-mail message, it will contain the addresses of everyone in the database in the header. While there are more private ways to do this, the current method is the easiest so keep that in mind if you are concerned about the privacy of your E-mail address. You can join the list by sending your address to NARA@AIRnet.net. with a note to put you on the distribution. I will also endever to update the information on the K4BFT packet BBS as time permitts.

 

Mid Year meeting

In keeping with the new theme of better communication and more flow of information, we are planning a NARA program at the HARC meeting of July 25. We will have a short NARA business meeting after the HARC portion of the meeting and then what I hope will be an informative program on any and all aspects of repeater operation in general. I am open to suggestions for specifics. We can focus on the NARA machines or take a more broadened approach. We can talk about operating procedures, coverage capabilities, and band plans or we can explore some of the specifics of repeater hardware; NARA or more general. Drop me an E-mail or a call and I’ll see what I can do.

 

‘94 News

The '94 machine is still our bread and butter machine as far as wide area coverage and frequency of usage. In the past it has been good practice to establish a contact and move to a simplex frequency where possible and this is still true for any busy repeater. I believe it i also true that the health of NARA is often percieved as proportional to the volume of traffic on '94. Just use your best judgement and help us achieve a good balence in this area.

We are continuing to require a 100 Hz PL tone for access but with a more liberal policy towards disabling it per the general membership desires. If you eed it disabled for a net or public service event, contact Ron Shaffer or Ben Durham. The DTMF PL override is available to visitors and users without PL capable radios as discussed in the User command guidlines.

'94 is used for the ARES net during severe weather events. When you hear the morse "W" courtisy tones (dit da da), suspend routine traffic and address the net control station for emergency traffic. The emergency training net routinely takes place on Thursday evenings at 7:30. You will hear a morse "N" courtisy (da dit) for this and other directed nets such as race events.

 

‘18 News

The ‘18 machine has traditionally been an autopatch repeater, but this does not always have to be so. Because the link antenna system problems have resulted in the ‘18 patch being down for the last several months, ‘18 has been more available for general conversation and use. ‘18 provides good coverage to areas of SE Huntsville and Redstone Arsenal where ‘94 is sometimes shadowed. In addition to the pending feedline and antenna work with ‘18, were in the process of upgrading / replacing the exciter. Until we complete this, the repeater output power level has been temporarily reduced from 100 watts to about 30-50 Watts. This is the reason that is does not sound very good in some areas of north Huntsville right now. We hope to have all of the pending work complete by June. We are incurring a slight delay in that we are waiting until some work on comercial repeater systems on the same tower that effects us is performed. Some changes may be made in courtisy tones to reflect net or autopatch status in the near future. Also I have long range plans (later this year ?) to put NARA’s ACC DVR onto this machine. For programming (announcements / shutdown etc) on ’18 or 443.5 contact Ron Shaffer, Leigh Bartlow or Ernie Blair in that order.

 

‘443.5 News: W4HSV

The 443.5 Repeater is Located on Monte-Sano slightly north of the ‘94 location. It’s call sign has been recently changed to W4HSV (which may or may not make this years repeater directory: Last Years call was AB4AP and later W8LN to reflect Brian’s new call.) W4HSV is a vanity club call assigned to Ernie Blair WA4BPS who is the repeater’s new trustee. This machine continues to serve NARA members well with a diverse suite of rather unique functions including a 4/5 band remote base system and an autopatch with area calling. See the applicable comments in the remote base and autopatch guidline sections. We believe we have solved most of the grounding and lightning protection problems which should greatly reduce our chances of the kind of damage we saw last year. We have recently had some intermittant problems with the phone patch however we have not yet isolated it to our controller (the line is shared) and these kind of problems are difficult to trace. If you experience any symptoms, report them to KS4LU or WA4BPS. About the only other pending plans we have for this machine is to find a rare logic connector to get the 1.2ghz remote on line and to re-calibrate the remote base squelch levels.

 

‘224.94 News

The 224.94 Machine is at the same site as ‘94 and as such should offer wide area coverage on 220. Recently, this has been far from the case and we have still have not yet isolated the de-sense problem between the antenna system and the repeater receiver. By the time you read this, It should be on the bench again, this time in a much better equipped lab. Todd Freestone has agreed to take the 220 Mhz machine on as a project with the goal to restore it to it’s former glorey. We will also investigate the 220 antenna system while repairing the ‘18 UHF link antenna system at the same site. We had a surge of 220 users after last years hamfest which I hope will return if we get this thing fixed.

 

‘145.33 News

The 145.33 repeater is the control repeater for the 440 Mhz Amateur Television repeater located on Monte Sano and is operated an maintained by the ATV group. While I still know very little about this machine (I just havn’t had time to persue it) , It is my understanding that some NARA funded components went into this machine and that NARA members and the ATV group share access in a good working relationship. It should be thought of as primaliry an ATV repeater and a NARA back-up to ‘94 or ‘18.

 

Membership Roster:

Below is the latest NARA membership roster by callsign only. It is in alphebitical order in two parts, those who are dues paid through ’97 or beyond followed by those who are paid through ’96. If you are in the second list and don’t think you should be, don’t panic just call us and we’ll straighten it out. We do occasionally make mistakes!

 

 

Survey summerys

As promised, here is a re-cap of the two member surveys which were conducted at the January ‘97 NARA meeting. Since I am running out of room, I will not include the original survey text, however I will be happy to provide a copy on request and welcome your inputs if you did not get a chance to participate.

 

PL Survey - Total participants were 69

 

Number favoring carrier access

5

Number favoring PL access with liberal disables (33 override code)

38

Number favoring strict PL access with less disables (last year’s policy)

21

Number indicating no strong feelings either way

5

General Interest Survey - Total participants were 55

 

1. Favorite Machines

3 for others

6 for ‘18,’33, and 443.5

34 for ‘94

2. Do you have 440 capability ? (13 - No’s)

42 said yes

3. How many radios with / without PL ? (47 radios without)

134 with PL

4. RACES active = 16, ARES Active = 16, Skywarn Active = 22

 

5. HARC members = 40, Huntspac = 10, ATV = 1, DX Club = 5

 

6. A/B Personal / NARA Interest in 220 Mhz gear (6 No) **

22 Yes

7. A/B Personal / NARA Interest in 6 Meter gear (5 No) **

28 Yes

8. A/B Personal / NARA Interest in 10 Meter gear (8 No) **

32 Yes

9. Support for "Bells & Whistles" (16 No) (9 Don’t Care)

30 Yes

10. Coverage Holes - 14 Reports (Farley / SE ‘94, Space&R- ‘18)

No Surprises

13. Indicated willingness to help with maintanence / programming

18

14. Indicated willingness to be considered for NARA officer nomination

7

15. Available for special task committees

11

16. Available for work parties - Tower / Ground Crews

29

17. Dues - Raise to improve capability = 15, Keep at current $12/yr = 35

** Note: These were 2 part questions - A was Do you have?, B was should NARA have? The Yes talleys are the total of A OR B, The No tallies are the total of B only. For example, Many people have 10 FM but do not necessarily favor NARA investing further.

 

 

 

 

 

North Alabama Repeater Association, Inc.

Partial Repeater Command and Information Sheet

Febuary 1997 DRAFT !

 

Please Read and Abide by Autopatch, Remote Base and User Guidelines attached to this sheet before using any of this command information.

 

146.34/94 Repeater: K4IQU

Location: Monte-Sano, Antenna Ht = 1810ft AMSL, Access with 100 Hz CTSS tone or temporarily with a DTMF 33. (This is only necessary once at the start of a QSO: PL access returns only after 1 minute at rest). Local autopatch = *[phone number] and terminate with a #. Huntsville Police = **1, 911 = **9. End all patches with a #.

Keypad test = Time of Day request = ,DRV Audio test = _____

Want a few more ? – support NARA and we will send a full command sheet !

 

147.78/18 Repeater: WD4CPF

Location: Brindlee Mountain, Antenna Ht = 1390ft AMSL, Access with 100 Hz CTSS tone.

Local autopatch = *[phone number], Huntsville Police = **1, 911 = **9. End all patches with a #. Keypad test = Time of Day request = , Talking S Meter test = Patch extend (45 Sec) = Want more command info ? – please support NARA and we will send a full comment sheet

 

443.5+ UHF Repeater: W4HSV

Location: Monte-Sano, Antenna Ht = 1714ft AMSL, Access with 110.9 Hz CTSS tone.

Local autopatch = ***[phone number], Huntsville Police = ***1, 911 = ***9. End all patches with a #. Keypad test = Time of Day request = Talking S Meter test = Patch extend (45 Sec)

Want more command info ? – please support NARA and we will send a full comment sheet

 

Remote Base: XX1= remote base reciever on (and frequency readback), XX2= remote base

transmitter on, XX3= remote base off, XX1x = select band where x is 1 for10 Meters, 2 for 2 Meters, 3 for 220 MHz and 4 for 440 Mhz.. Example: After turning the remote base on with XX1, enter XX12 to switch to 2 Meters. XX1M*kkko = Enter frequency and offset (o is 1 for minus, 2 for simplex and 3 for plus). Example: enter 146.91- With the remote base selected for 2 meters, enter XX16*9101, XX7xx = PL tone select from the table below. Example: to select a 100 Hz PL, enter XX712, 771* = Power level interrogate, XX1*0 = Select low power, XX1*1 = select high power.

 

The XX is what is what we give you as a way of saying Thanks for supporting NARA !

 

CTSS FREQUENCIES

01 67.0

08 88.5

15 110.9

22 141.3

29 179.9

36 233.6

02 71.9

09 91.5

16 114.8

23 146.2

30 186.2

37 241.8

03 74.4

10 94.5

17 118.8

24 151.4

31 192.8

38 250.3

04 77.0

11 -

18 123.0

25 156.7

32 203.5

00 None

05 79.7

12 100.0

19 127.3

26 162.2

33 210.7

 

06 82.5

13 103.5

20 131.8

27 167.9

34 218.1

 

07 85.4

14 107.2

21 136.5

28 173.8

35 225.7

 

 

 

User Function Guidlines:

User functions as discssed here include things other than the autopatch and remote base which are covered separately. The CTSS Override (DTMF 33) feature on ‘94 is intended to provide an alternate access for out of town visitors and normal users who have older radios without PL capability. The override gives a visitor a way to get into the repeater easily and get directions while moving and then pull over and program in the 100 HZ PL tone later. It also permits the use of older radios without PL a means of temporary access. (Note: if you don’t have a DTMF Pad, you can buy a self contained DTMF generator for less than $10 at RT Systems or Radio Shack). The override code need only be entered once at the start of a QSO. The repeater will return to PL access automatically after a timer expires starting from the last repeater drop. This timer is currently set for 60 seconds but may be shortened to 20 or 30 seconds in the event of interference. The override code may optionally be entered at the end of a carrier access QSO to manually return the repeater to PL. The controller says "OK UP" when transitioning to carrier access and "OK DOWN" when transitioning back to PL access.

Other user functions such as the time of day request, the talking S-meter and the Keypad test are there for user convenience. Most of the time these functions serve useful purposes, however they also have the potential to be percieved as a catylist for abuse by members who moniter for long periods of time. With this in mind, you should use them with common sense and consideration of others. For example, only use the keypad test when you suspect a problem with your radio or you are adjusting DTMF deviation levels. The talking S-meters on ‘18 and 443.5 can be useful for checking out an antenna or coverage locations, however they only provide a relative figure of merit. Neither of them are precisely calibrated. The meter on 443.5 is also very stingy: I doubt if you could get an "S-9 plus sixty" out of It if you were standing next to it ! Your best bet when checking out antennas is feedback from aother operator. Hams love to punch buttons and play with bells and whistles. So lets use them wisely to assure that they stay enabled ! Don’t give the codes to non-members or to anyone over the air. Thrifty usage is key !

 

Autopatch Guidlines:

The emergency and user autodial capability on ‘94 is active at all times, however the normal autopatch is active on ‘94 only when there are problems with the ‘18 patch. The VHF autopatches (‘94 and ‘18) share a common phone line. The line is already in use if you make a call and either hear beeping or a conversation in progress. Hang up and try again in a few minutes. Business calls that benifit your place of business are prohibited by the FCC. When in doubt as to the legitimacy of a call, wait and use a land line.

Both VHF and the UHF patches have two autopatch timers. The first is an activity timer which will end the patch if nothing is heard on the repeater input for 50 seconds. This often happens while waiting for a long winded answering machine message. To avoid this, key down once during the wait to reset the timer. This timer was recently extended from 30 to 50 seconds and I have not seen this problem since. The second timer limits the total length of your patch. This timer was recently extended from 120 seconds to 240 seconds (4 minutes). On ‘94 your 30 second warning will be that you hear a "booop" when you un-key each time. On ‘18 and 443.5, you will hear the controller announce "30 seconds". This will give you time to end your call gracefully. The timers are there to protect against instances where you drive out of coverage or into a bad spot or where your battery goes dead. I have had trouble in the past with 94 being able to decode the # on one of my mobile rigs (the problem was on my end!) and the patch timer helped out. These timers may be lengthened or shortened in proportion to repeater activity level. The goal is to maximize member service for all which involves trade-offs. If you need a patch extended, on ‘18 send a …. and on 443.5 send a ….. Use this with consideration of others waiting to use the repeater to avoid the code being changed or disabled. The ‘94 extend code must remain unpublished due to the controller configuration. About 7 people who moniter often (mostly officers) will know the code and can extend the timer in emergencies when needed.

The NARA requests that you I.D. Clearly before and after your phone patch. If you hear what you think to be a pirate using the patch and mumbling a (often fake or stolen) call, report it to one on the NARA officers. Resist the urge to play frequency cop when you are not absolutely sure. We have had both pirates and un-necessary challenges of legitimate operators in the past.

The 443.5 Repeater uses a phone line which is shared with several other non-NARA repeaters. This line has area calling on it which will allow seven digit calls to Decatur, Athens, etc. The patch has been a closed patch for NARA members only in the past and will remain so unless there is a desire to change from the general membership.

 

Remote Base Guidlines:

1. When transmitting through the remote base, the user must observe all FCC identification rules as the repeater does not I.D. through the remote base. For this reason, and because the remote base is frequency agile (I.E. not a fixed link to 10 Meter FM), the repeater can not be interpreted as a control op station for Novices and Technicians to use 10 Meter FM. You must be a General class or higher to use the NARA 10 Meter remote base.

2. The remote base transmitters should only be turned on when necessary. They are not designed for hours of 100% duty cycle. (They are basically Ham quality mobile rigs, not comercial quality units like our repeater transmitters, an Icom IC-900 system to be exact). Use high power only when necessary and try to avoid long winded conversations when you are bringing up more than one distant repeater.

3. During Severe weather events, the remote base will generally be configured to receive the Skywarn Net on 147.24 and is not open for general use when this is true. This is to allow Local county net control stations (and users) to moniter both local and regional nets on a dual band radio simeltaneously.

4. The remote base is currently configured on the schedular to shut down at 11 PM. This is to minimize interference problems to other repeaters at the site as well as potential lock up conditions at undesirable hours. If your needs are not in line with this, contact us and we can work something out.

5. The remote base has traditionally been a closed function for NARA members only. This will remain the case unless there is a sentimant from the membership to change. There has however been a general loosining of the policy in that the remote base commands are now included with the general command sheet. This may even entice a few to get equipped with 440 capability. The remote base is fairly robust. don’t be afraid to check it out. It is there for us to enjoy. Please turn it off when you are through.