BeachNet Repeater System

BeachNet Operating Tips

Pacific, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Thurston & Wahkiakum Counties, Washington

145.170 |  145.310 |  145.390 |  147.020 |  147.180 |  147.340 |  224.040 |  224.820 |  440.675 |  441.675 |  442.675 |  444.050 |  444.200 |  444.400 |  444.500 |  444.700 |  444.800 |  444.925 |  444.950
 

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The BeachNet Repeater System is a fairly complex network. This page attempts to lay out a few tips that can enhance your enjoyment as a user of our system.


The network is composed of multiple repeaters, linked together. It doesn't matter which of our repeaters you use to access the network. They all basically work as a single unit. There is generally no need to be on the "same" repeater as the person you are talking with. They are all equivalent. In fact, many first-time users aren't even aware there are multiple repeaters, and are surprised to find out the person they are talking with is quite a distance away, on a completely different repeater, possibly on a different frequency band. You should use the repeater that you get into the best, which is usually the one you hear the best. As you move around the coverage area, this will change. At most places, there is more than one repeater which will work.


Our network primarily uses repeaters on the 2-meter, and 70-centimeter bands. Neither band is "better" than the other in all circumstances. If you only have a radio for one band, then of course, you will only be able to access those repeaters. If you have both bands available, you will find enhanced coverage by using repeaters on both bands. We also have two repeaters on the 1.25-meter band, 224.040 MHz and 224.820 MHz. The former is not usually linked into the network, but has fairly broad coverage in its own right. The 224.820 repeater, on Holy Cross Mountain near South Bend, is normally linked in, covering a large portion of Pacific County for those who prefer this band.


For those fortunate enough to operate multi-band equipment, it is generally recommended, when transmitting, that the side of the radio not being used have the volume turned all the way down. Many of these radio sets will receive a second repeater while the operator is simultaneously talking on the one. In this case, if both repeaters are part of the BeachNet Repeater System, this can cause a circular path for the audio, which results in very loud feedback. If the volume of the received audio is adjusted with great care, it is possible to hear your own transmissions while talking, much like a telephone conversation, however, there is a half-second audio delay built into the repeater architecture, which may make monitoring yourself sound like an echo chamber.


If you receive a report that your signal is marginal, or hard to copy, try another BeachNet repeater. You could also try increasing your power or moving to a different location. Most of our users operate at "full power" all the time, as a rule. The hilly topography of our region will generally limit your range so that the extra power won't contribute to interference with others. As for moving, it can take as little as a quarter-wavelength change in position to make a profound difference in performance. At 2-meters, a quarter-wavelength is 18-inches, and at 440 MHz, only 6-inches, so even small movements can be significant. It is certainly possible to drive out of range of a repeater, but that usually means you are driving into the coverage footprint of another.


The placement of our repeaters was planned to provide as nearly complete coverage as possible, with substantial overlap, to best serve our users. This will require switching from one repeater to the next while traveling around the area. For example, following Highway 101, north from the Cannon Beach junction with Oregon Highway 26, south of Seaside, OR, the attentive user would tune to the Megler 147.18 repeater. This would work well through Astoria, across the Megler Bridge, into Washington, and via either Highway 101, or WA SR401, to WA SR4 to Johnson's Landing (the 101/SR4 junction northwest of Naselle). Continuing north, the user would switch to the North Cove 145.310 repeater, which provides an excellent signal along this stretch of highway from across Willapa Bay. Somewhere between the Bay Center turn off, and South Bend, the radio would again be switched to the South Bend 147.340 repeater. This would cover the journey northward to the Pacific/Grays Harbor County line. The change there would be to the Cosmopolis 145.390 repeater, which would work fine through the Aberdeen/Hoquiam area and northward. Once north of these cities, the next change would be to the Neilton 444.700 repeater, which would work well north to the Grays Harbor county limits.


Similarly, while moving around within our area, if you notice the repeater you are tuned to is beginning to sound scratchy or marginal, or the person you are in QSO with says you are becoming rough, step up or down though the BeachNet repeaters for one that comes in better. Chances are, that one will pick you up better as well. You did put the whole list of our repeaters into sequential slots in your radio's memory bank, right?!


It is possible to be "too close" to a repeater. Most of our repeaters are located on mountains. Many of the highways skirt the bases of these mountains, putting the bulk of the mountain itself in the path of your signal. The repeater antennas have gain, which is to say they tend to focus the signal strength at the horizon. That can have the effect of aiming most of the sensitivity over your head. If you are on a highway under the toe of a mountain, it is possible not to be able to work a repeater less than a quarter-mile away, due to these two factors. Sometimes a repeater farther away, but in a favorable direction can offer better coverage.


An example of this would be Highway 8, near the McCleary turnoff, on the way north from Elma to Olympia, where the Olympia 444.950 repeater is barely two miles away, as the crow flies, and nearly a half-mile vertically above you, making it very marginal. The Minot 444.050 and Cosmopolis 145.390 repeaters both cover this area better from a distance.


There are also several remote receivers to augment coverage in certain problem areas. A couple of them require changing your CTCSS (PL) tone to use. If you will be in an area where these are useful, learning how to access them can extend your coverage into otherwise marginal areas.


An example would be the Ocean Shores area, where the North Cove 145.310 repeater is heard well, but can be marginal to get back into. Shifting your PL tone to 114.8 Hz (from the 118.8 Hz normally used) selects the remote receiver on Naselle Ridge at 2000-feet elevation, instead of the repeater receiver at 500-feet. Although not always better, in many areas, particularly near the southern tip of the Ocean Shores peninsula, this can be advantageous.


Of course, if the 70-cm band is available, the Ocean Shores area is well served by the Ocean Shores 444.200 repeater located to cover the North and South Beaches. This illustrates that having both 2-meters and 70-cm is a distinct advantage, but not absolutely necessary.


Even though our network was engineered for a typical Amateur mobile installation (50-watts VHF or 30-watts UHF with a 3-dB gain antenna), it's certainly possible to use our repeaters with just a hand-held radio, even inside a vehicle, but don't expect complete coverage or rave signal reports. At best, you may find reasonable coverage in the more populated areas. Especially if you are using VHF (2-meters or the 222 MHz band), it's best to hold your radio again st the car window. This places the antenna as close to "outside the vehicle" as possible. A vertically polarized signal at 2-meters cannot pass through a hole that is much smaller than 18-inches wide by 3-feet high. Most vehicle windows are not that large, so the radio signal has a hard time leaking out of the cab. Holding the radio against the window can help this situation a lot. The best plan, of course, is to install an outside antenna on your vehicle, either permanently or magnet-mount, for best performance from your radio.


A special case situation for hand-held operation is in Cathlamet, in Wahkiakum County. The Grays River 147.020 repeater covers this area well for mobile operation, but is a bit marginal for a hand-held radio. To address this issue, a remote receiver is installed nearby to relay a weak signal into the system. Shifting your PL tone to 110.9 Hz (instead of the usual 118.8 Hz) selects this receiver, allowing hand-held use of the repeater.


Timing is very important in a system like this one. There are a number of unavoidable delays built in. When you squeeze the Push-To-Talk switch on your radio, other Hams, elsewhere in the system, won't hear you for a bit over a second. It goes something like this...


When you key up, the repeater you are using waits while the CTCSS decoder decides whether your signal has the correct sub-audible access (PL) tone. This process typically takes 300 milliseconds (a third of a second). Then, once the local repeater is satisfied that your signal is properly encoded, it turns on its transmitter, and keys the link to send your voice to the system linking hub. There, another 300 mS pass while that CTCSS decoder evaluates the incoming link signal for the correct PL tone. Once that decoder is satisfied, the hub transmitter comes on. The link receivers at all the other repeaters then check the CTCSS tone on the incoming link signal, taking yet another 300 mS to confirm the correct tone before turning on the remaining repeater transmitters in the network. In addition, there is a 200 mS audio time delay built into the link hub controller. At each step along the way, when a transmitter is keyed, it can take as much as 100 mS for it to come to full power and stabilize on frequency. So, when you squeeze the trigger, wait at least a full second, to a-second-and-a-half, before speaking, or your first few words will be cut off.


Courtesy tones are used on most repeater systems, and ours is no exception. The tone basically indicates that the time-out timer has been reset, and you can talk for up to three minutes before the controller will cut you off. In addition to this, different tones can be used to indicate that the system is in a particular state. When using our system, wait for the courtesy tone before transmitting so that if someone else wants to get in, they can.


During normal operation, the courtesy tone is a distinctive three-note tone. If you hear a "tic-toc" courtesy tone, it indicates that the power has been lost on KO Peak, not terribly interesting to most users, but of interest to the Control Operators. The system goes into "Night Mode" between 10:30 PM and 7:30 AM, with the voice announcements silenced and the courtesy tone becomes a Morse code letter "K", dah-di-dah.


We have a few night owls who leave the radio turned on (but down) all night, in case someone needs help. The Night Mode is in deference to these folks. You might be glad they have these habits, sometime when you are broken down in the middle of nowhere, and the cell phone doesn't work.


You may notice the controller announces the "outdoor temperature on KO" from time to time. It will normally be 7 or 8 degrees cooler than at sea level. If it is substantially warmer than sea level, then listen for signals from farther away than normal. The temperature being announced is at 3000-feet elevation, and if it is warmer than sea level, that indicates a temperature inversion, which promotes ducting.


All users of the BeachNet System should be familiar with our Operating Policies. These are guidelines for acceptable use of our repeater network, that all users are expected to abide by.


If you have questions not answered by poking around our website, please ask a Control Operator. We want you to understand the system, and use it. That is the best way to become familiar with its strengths and limitations, the better to enjoy the system, and be prepared for an emergency situation, should one arise.

de NM7R





 

145.170 |  145.310 |  145.390 |  147.020 |  147.180 |  147.340 |  224.040 |  224.820 |  440.675 |  441.675 |  442.675 |  444.050 |  444.200< /a> |  444.400 |  444.500 |  444.700 |  444.800 |  444.925 |  444.950
 

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This Page Last Updated: 04/05/13.