Kendall Amateur Radio Society

KB5TX


Repeaters

As a 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.

 

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

         VHF: 146.64(-)  pl tone of 88.5 presently located on the EMS tower at Jennifer Road.

         VHF: 145.19(-)  pl tone of 88.5 presently located adjacent to the Kendall Co. Sheriff's Department.

 

Doug Becker, W5VEO, also maintains two UHF repeaters for our use:

         UHF: 444.900(+) pl tone of 123.  Temporarily off the air.

         UHF: 444.750(+) pl tone of 162.2 presently located on the EMS tower at Jennifer Road.

 

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    The County wishes to consolidate communications at the EMS site on Jennifer Road. This means that KARS will need to move off the EMS tower.  So, in exchange, the County offered the old 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.

 

 

Once repairs are complete, we will move the .64 machine from the EMS site on Jennifer Road to Tower Road.  We don't have a specific date and the Sheriff's Department has told us they are in no hurry.  Nevertheless we are planning the move sometime in April or May, 2018.  This should be an easy move as we will use the cans, coax and antennas still in place at Tower Road.  The picture below shows what we will have to work with both now and in the future.

 

Tower Road Site

 

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 EMS tower and reinstall this at Tower Road.  Then we will have three workable 2-meter antennas at varying heights.  Functionality of the 450 MHZ antennas needs to be confirmed.  Primary power will be from the AC Mains with battery backup.  We inherited the backup generator on site and will refurbish this later on.  The DR-1X fusion repeater (.64) will be the primary repeater on this tower.  So, what is the overall plan?  Here is a suggested Road Map for the Membership to consider.

 

Road Map

  • Establish a 2-meter FM repeater 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.

Our goal is to make this the premier repeater in the Hill Country.  We will support both "pure" FM and emerging digital standards.  We plan to provide 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.  Experience tells us the communication footprint for the Tower Road location is about the same as from Jennifer Road.  We see no degradation of coverage, in fact coverage could improve to the east and along US Hwy 281.  A final goal will be to link with other repeaters in the area to expand our range.

 

The first step is to move the .64 machine from the EMS site on Jennifer Road to Tower Road as soon as possible, and then implement APRS on the Tower Road site at about the same time to fill the gap between Kerrville and San Antonio while awaiting comment how the Club wishes to proceed.  Steve Lazar has tested the APRS digipeater system and has this ready to install at Tower Road.  We will use one of the two existing 2-meter antennas.  Here is a mock up of the aprs.fi display when we are done.

 

 

 

This will be a good time to bring the KB5TX practice net back into existence using the relocated .64 machine.  We announce the day and time when we have this initial capability ready to go.  Make no mistake.  The goal of the practice net is to advertise our existing and coming capabilities and encourage all to use them.  Your Club hopes all members will get their handhelds out, turn them on, and announce their presence.

 

Next, Steve will help us decide how best to establish a radio link for internet access.  We are looking at alternatives both in town and another rural location with clear line of site to Tower Road.  Line of sight analysis leads to believe either will work.  The deciding factor will probably be recurring cost to run.  Then, we will move the .19 machine from its present location in Boerne, to Tower Road to provide additional FM capability for emergencies.  We have two choices of equipment:  Ken's DR-2 machine or simply migrate to our GE Master Pro (inherited from KCSO) with 175-200 Watts of pure FM.  At the same time we will coordinate with Doug Becker about his 440 MHz machines.  We are also looking at a satellite system to implement a "voting" system.

 

All of this has been discussed at our April meeting, where it was decided to send an email "blast" to the membership for comment.  You can also use this link if you wish to comment.  In doing so, please keep the objective in mind -- to be "head and shoulders" above any other repeater in the Hill Country.

 

Please -- let no one underestimate the amount of concentrated effort Marsh Pronneke has expended to practically rebuild the Tower Road building.  The result is a new water tight home for the .64 and other machines.  The pictures below show conditions we are moving out of at the EMS site on Jennifer Road and what we will move into in a few weeks.  Right now, the repeater committee is deciding how to set up the equipment. Considerations include the type of antenna bulkhead/entry panel to install and which A/C unit we will use, so to finish framing for it.

 

This picture shows Ken opening the shed door to the building presently housing the .64 machine.  The next picture shows the rack and equipment.  At far right, here is the building at the Sheriff's site on Tower Rd as of the end of March.  Marsh's renovation is almost complete.  The racks are next.

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