Kendall Amateur Radio Society

KB5TX


Repeaters

KARS provides and maintains the following repeaters using the Club call KB5TX:

·         VHF: 146.64(-)  pl tone of 88.5.  DR-2 fusion machine located at around 1970 feet above mean sea level (MSL) at Tower Road.

·         VHF: 145.19(-)  pl tone of 88.5.  Converted to DR-2 fusion machine, located at about 50 feet, in Fair Oaks Ranch.

u        UHF:  444.9 (+) pl tone of 88.5.  DR-2 fusion machine using the top UHF antenna at Tower Road.

 

As As result of months of effort by Ken Nichols and Rodney Vorndam, the use of Kendall County towers by KARS repeaters is now formally approved by the County Commissioners Court and the County Judge.  Here is our current status a/o October, 2019.

 

     Background:  The County told us some time ago they wished to consolidate communications at the EMS site on Jennifer Road.  In exchange, the County offered the Kendall County Sheriff Office (KCSO) site on Tower Road to KARS to use, backup generator, tower and all.  We surveyed the building and, with the Board approving cost, Marsh Pronneke accomplished extensive repairs amounting to almost a complete rebuild, mainly to remove dry-rot, insulate, and water proof the building.  With these building repairs complete, the .64 machine was relocated to its new permanent home on Tower Road.  This is the tower and antennas we have to work with at Tower Road.

 

Tower Road Site

 

ha  We have two working 2-meter antennas and a possible 150 MHz antenna system.  Our plan is to take our 2-meter antenna and coax off the Jennifer Road tower and reinstall this at Tower Road.  Then we will have three workable 2-meter antennas at varying heights, two in use and one for future use.  The 450 MHZ antenna at the top of tower is providing great coverage for the 444.9 mHz repeater.  Primary power is from the AC Mains with battery backup.  We inherited the backup generator on site and will refurbish this later on.  The DR-2X fusion repeater (.64) will be the primary repeater on this tower.  So, what has been the overall plan?  Here is the Road Map the Membership approved to guide the overall effort.

 

Road Map

  • Establish two 2-meter FM repeaters with wide area coverage "head and shoulders" above existing machines in the area.

  • Establish an UHF machine with wide area coverage "head and shoulders" above existing machines in the area.

  • Support both "pure" FM and emerging digital standards.

  • APRS capability.

  • Build a microwave link to provide a internet connection at the repeater.

  • Provide ability to "call in" via internet to participate in NETS from a remote location.

  • Provide emergency communications capability.

  • Link (if desired) with other repeaters to expand range.

We have completed this with the goal to make KB5TX the premier repeater system in the Hill Country.  The Tower Road site provides coverage as far north as Fredericksburg.  The Fair Oaks Ranch site provides coverage into San Antonio.  We now support both "pure" FM and emerging digital standards.  We have APRS capability and a mesh network at 2.4 or 5.8 GHz to a remote site with an internet connection.  With this we will have the ability to "call in" via the internet to participate in NETS from a remote location.

 

We commenced with one VHF repeater and a set of cavities.  Then, a UHF repeater was added.  Along the way an APRS system was installed.  Bee Cave Communications provided internet to the facility.   A Broadcastify system was added to the VHF repeater.  WiresX was added to the UHF repeater.   How to use WiresX is located hereA WSPRPi was added to provide HF propagation reports.  UPS and battery backup was added.  A system to monitor environmental came soon after.  It’s no wonder that the Tower Road site came to look like this.

 

 

The Cludge

 

This was the result of quickly adding one capability after another for quick presence on the air, and while everything worked, it created many problems; it had to change so we could easily add additional capabilities, trouble shoot when needed and simply document what we have.  Marsh, Steve, Mark, Ben, Ken and Don started planning how to reorganize all of this.  We added a demarc board where devices could be mounted and signal/power lines easily traced.  Marsh built a work of art, that is hinged so that power can be run behind the board, yet the board can be opened up if we need to access the wall behind it.  The Power Distribution Unit (PDU) is mounted to the bottom of the board, which allows the board to be opened without disturbing the wiring.  And now the interior of the building and the system arrangement looks like this.

 

 

The Work of Art

 

Steve Lazar has the KB5TX APRS Digipeater on the air from the tower road site since 21 May. Currently we are running an ICOM IC-2100 with an output power of 25 watts and the TinyTrak 4. Our antenna is about halfway up the tower for an estimated height slightly over 1700 feet using the lower of the two existing 2-meter antennas.  Look at www.aprs.fi and search for KB5TX.  Here it is.

 

 

 

The various station locations which were heard directly on the KB5TX Digipeater are shown below on a screen shot from www.aprs.fi.  Over time this will allow us to estimate what our system coverage.  But from what is shown below, one would have to agree that it is pretty good.

 

 

Current Status

 

  1. Our APRS machine is on the air at Tower Road.  Additional enhancements (win-link etc.) are planned. Greg - AB5I provided the TT4  and we are using an IC-2100 radio mated to this. The coverage is quite good as we have seen packets from mobiles in Austin.
  2. Internet- The internet connection has been installed at the tower road site thanks to Mark -N5YZV and Bee Creek Communications.  This will provide the wires-X connection as part of priority #1 with anticipated Wires-X operation in 1Qtr 2019. Mark was able to get a “free” connection with the caveat of placing the provider name on our web page.
  3. You may have noticed a change in the coverage at 146.64 mHz.  We have been experimenting with the VHF antennas on the tower, with our signal coverage on 146.64 mHz varying as we tried one and another.  We are back to the antenna at 110 feet up the tower and at around 1970 feet above mean sea level (MSL).
  4. The club now has three DR-2X fusion machines – one operating on 444.9, another at 146.64 both located at Tower Road and the third on 145.19 at about 50 feet in Fair Oaks Ranch.
  5. Wires-X is up and running on 444.9 mHz.  After months of planning, and weeks of testing (thanks Mark S, Ben K and Steve L), the KB5TX UHF repeater (444.900) is now Wires-X enabled.  What this means is that the repeater is no longer range limited by propagation.  Wires-X, which stands for Wide-coverage Internet Repeater Enhancement System, uses the internet to expand the range of a device.  We are currently linked to a repeater network started by the San Antonio Digital Radio Club (SADRC).  They have a number of repeaters along I-35 that provide coverage from South of San Antonio to Dallas.  We provide coverage from Fredericksburg to north side of San Antonio.  However, that is not the full extent of the coverage.  Because we are accessible on the internet, it’s not uncommon to find people from Michigan, Washington (Scott – can you hear me?). For how to information, click here.

The CW ID on our repeaters is set to 20 WPM- which is the maximum speed allowed under FCC rules. This is mentioned because we  have been asked if we can increase the speed beyond what it is currently at.  The answer is "No."

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