This is where I try to keep you up to date on what’s happening with myself and, more importantly, with Ham Radio in Northern Michigan. If you find things here to be a bit old, assume that I’m overloaded with work, family, fixing radios, or whatever.
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Spring has brought some improvements for Ham Radio and communications in general in Northern Michigan.
The SAARC 146.680 W8GQN repeater is back in what appears to be full operation. A couple weeks ago a courageous crew went 400′ up the tower in Stutsmanville to see what was going wrong. It turned out that there were several things that needed attention, including a loose connector on the coax pig-tail coming from the VHF antenna. Everything has now been fixed and it looks like the W8GQN repeater is back to it’s usual wide-area coverage.
The 443.375 W8CCE D-Star system seems to be doing fine, although at low power. I do have a few amplifiers I’m evaluating and will probably put one in to boost the W8CCE transmit signal sometime in early Summer.
We’re also working on a new D-Star repeater for a location just North of Gaylord. This is going to be a non-Icom D-Star repeater using a Vertex VXR-5000 repeater, a GMSK node adapter, and alternative gateway software. We’re not yet sure which software will be used for the gateway, but the strong contender is currently StarGate. We have the repeater and node adapter connected and tested, have the gateway computer up and running and waiting for software installation, and have a donated UHF antenna array in the garage. Also have a preamp in the works if we use separate receive and transmit antennas as is used for the UHF repeaters at Stutsmanville.
A third D-Star repeater is being planned–perhaps for the Grayling area. Please let me know if you’d like to participate in that project.
One other project that’s in the works on my bench is a GPS disciplined time and frequency reference for my communications test equipment. Much of that is already up and running and I’m in the process of packaging it all into a rack mount case. The core of this system is a Trimble Thunderbolt that uses GPS signals to condition a local oscillator and produces time and 1 pulse per second and 10 MHz reference signals. The 10 MHz reference is tied to much of my test equipment and keeps them accurate to better than .001 Hz at 500 MHz. I guess that solves any question regarding calibration of my equipment. It’s been a fun project and remarkably inexpensive.
Been cleaning and organizing my “Ham radio shack”, which as may Hams know can be a perpetual project. Actually looking pretty good at this point. Unfortunately, as history proves, that will change.
Chuck Scott – N8DNX