summery days …

I’ve heard about this one mode before – a couple of local hams do sailing on our big lake and make a run way up north now and then.  They use HF (mostly 80m I hear) to check in and get updates to the weather, pass traffic etc.  VE4DXR and VE4ESX both utilize the bands to stay in contact with folks ‘back home’.  Leor was using some mode that I had not really heard of before – winlink.  It’s a messaging system that can utilize different mediums to exchange messages with other hams – be it HF, VHF or regular internet technologies.  The interesting thing on this is that the winlink system has grown to be more of a fault-tolerant, redundant, multi-mode communications hub for store/forward of traffic.  Seems it also has it’s place in the ham emergency communications arena, widely used as a backup communications mode for a number of emergency and relief agencies.  So, timeliness, another local ham VE4UA had been running his local packet bbs system (since the days of yore) and it was really not getting any usage from what Werner was indicating, so he was thinking of re-purposing the gear to be something more useful.  Others got wind of the information and mentioned about setting up a WinLink system for EMCOMM – so he decided to repurpose his gear for that local mode, and was looking for some trials.  Me, not being active on packet (since the days of yore as well), decided to take my trusty Yaesu FT1500 mobile and MFJ 1278 and the cable I got provisioned to me by another local ham (VE4VR) to set out and try this new mode.  Within the hour I was able to get software downloaded onto my trusty core2 dual processor machine running win10 (another gift from VE4VR) – (which by the way HAS A DB9 SERIAL PLUG! yes!) – got the registration completed and offered the winlink team a donation for their fine work they do, hooked everything all up and away I go — the current meter on the power supply goes to  8amps with the 50watt output of my radio – hooked up to my dual stacked 5/8 on top of the house and I get a FULL SCALE reply back from Werner’s system.  Soon enough, I figure out the software and send/receive messages galore on packet winlink.  Interesting.  I’ll have to try scaling back the power a bit – we might have a better RF connectivity  than I had anticipated.  Looking around a bit at the winlink system, there’s no real HF gateways in the RF dead spot of the prairies – maybe there is opportunity for a local group to establish an EMCOMM HF gateway and serve the locals sailing up north and beyond! hint hint …

Seems our national news picked up on a story emanating out of the east coast – where it appears someone decided to slice up a couple of strands of fiber-optic cable servicing the WHOLE REGION.  Hmmm – so much for redundancy there!  The word was that most forms of communications were cut – cell, internet, etc.  So the local ham groups had been put on alert for setting out to provide emergency traffic passing.  Although the service was restored fairly quickly, it did highlight some pressing issues that need to be reviewed.  The local news of the area:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/amateur-radio-atlantic-canada-bell-phone-outage-1.4236756

and our local news a little ways back:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/ham-radio-enthusiasts-keeping-old-technology-alive-1.1397214

Interesting that there was only FM discussion, no HF discussion – but, there you have it.

It’s summer time and is great to be out on my  bike again – the XYL and I took a ride out to the local park and enjoyed the ride and the relaxation of the park.  While on the way I happen to spy a few antennas here and there, so thought I’d add a little item on ‘spot-the-antenna’ … whom are these:

which one(s) are our ham antennas 🙂
this one is an easy one – on the way to the park
no idea whose this may be – but there are other hams on the street I know of…

seems I keep looking up when riding around, trying to see who has what kind of gear in the air.

Some other cool things are happening with the ham geekdom these days.  Expansion and refinement of our local high-speed network VA4WAN has progressed a bit further.  The guys spent a fair amount of time organizing and then spending the ENTIRE DAY on top of the building in what must have been the hottest day of the year!  Contrast that with the coldest day of the year here:  http://ve4drk.keizer.ca/?p=182

More work done on the networking (hardware wise) and cleaning up the connections.  Fiber connection will be replacing the current copper connection to our friendly ham provider les.net, who continues to offer us his inter-bits!  An addition of another camera on the south, and hopefully some more 3GHz gear running will help smoother the connectivity out a bit.

Our Dugald road site connection is also in operation – after a slight downtime at the interim site at 60C due to power issues.  (So, now i have a small project to take the thermometer William donated and hook it up to a pi to start registering what the temps are in that enclosure a bit more.  More to come on that later.  With the inter-bits back on-line at Dugald road, I reconfigured the IRLP machine to be a new node to replace the old venerable VE4WRS system.  Thanks to Walter VE4VB for the use of his repeater (VE4CNR) to host this system.  It is currently connected, but we need to pay it a visit to get the one-way audio corrected – I’m sure it will only be a few minutes to figure it out – or we have some bad hardware to replace on the computer system.  Either way, having a reliable repeater with our ham connectivity will be great.

I’ve re-programmed my DMR radio again – trying out another local DMR system – seems there’s some growth in them thar’ hills – William was able to setup a 2.3 system to give to Shaun to get his system on the air and we got the DNS registered to have it updated as well, so will keep an eye on that front.

Seems I have more uses for radio than I have cable for – so I’m in search for some decent RG213 or 9913 or LMR type of cable.  Looking at the shack, I currently have 6 radios in constant operation!  and of course I want to put more on-line too – so – more cable is in the works.  If you know of a source, drop me a line — i’m good @ RAC.

Enough for now – time to get on with the day and have some more summery fun.

73, Dan ve4drk

 

Winnipeg Digital Repeater Group AGM

Wednesday July 29, a number of us met at the Sals on Leila to hold the annual general meeting of the Winnipeg Digital Repeater Group.

Quite a number turned out for this AGM.  There was no topic per se, but a review of last year’s notes and new business was quick and that was it.

There are 2 newbies on the exec – Derek VE4HAY is the new vice president, and Dan VE4DRK (that’s me) is the new membership chair.

This will be a good tenure to take for a year or so — help out a bit as I also currently handle the MRS memberships as well.

Also of note – the WDR group is also now merged up with the HSMM digital group – which is great, as we have similar interests and uses.

Here’s to a good year ahead!

73, Dan ve4drk

VE4WRS IRLP

Well, a week or so ago, we rounded up a couple of network gurus and headed back up to the site to ensure we get the networking setup properly.

Accompanying myself, was our host Ed VE4EAR, William VE4VR and my son Robert VE4RLK.

Sure enough – as soon as they were in and we pointed out where things were, it was evident what the issue was … so the box that I thought was just in dumb adsl model mode was actually in router mode and we were running PPPoE over PPPoE or some such .. so, fun .. was fairly easy to get things back setup properly and it’s been working just fine since.

The repeater is getting a good workout with all the IRLP connections and we’re able to monitor the system better now as well.

Robert and William figuring it out
Robert and William figuring it out

Our receiving antenna is at the very tip top of this tower – barely visible !

Great antenna
Great antenna

Thanks for all your help and time guys — and so it goes …

73, Dan ve4drk

Sierra Radio Systems controller

You may recall a previous posting http://ve4drk.keizer.ca/?p=145 where I discussed the local repeater group getting a funky new repeater controller.  Well, it is finally hooked up to a repeater and is on-line on our local 44/net.

It has some nice interface options to the repeater controllers which will be fun to experiment with and see what is possible.

I’ve worked with administering an IRLP system and setting them up -so some of the concepts are there, but in a much grander scale — this unit is rather nice.

Looking forward to implementing new VoIP/RoIP connectivities

73, Dan ve4drk

MRS AGM

The Manitoba Repeater Society held it’s AGM Thursday April 23 at the Norberry Community Centre — our usual place for holding the AGM in the past while.  A good attendance of almost 30 members attended which allowed the exec to provide updates to finance, membership and technical updates as well as the current state of the repeater network — expansion efforts, as well as discussion on settings up a working group to discuss options for ROIP – radio over IP.

Certainly will be interesting to discuss.

73, Dan ve4drk

Meeting VE4VJ up close …

While I was able to see the VE4VJ/VE4WPG site up close and personal on a previous visit on the roof, I had not been in the machine room where the RF gear is located – except for this last Sunday where I accompanied Yuri VE4ACX, Dick VE4HK to the Richardson building at Portage & Main in Winnipeg.

I didn’t realize the close quarters that the gear is setup in — mind you, we don’t need alot of room to host the RF gear.

The UHF repeater VE4VJ is being taken out of service to tune up the RF & audio.  Also – the two link radios are being brought in for Yuri to tune as well — almost like getting the oil replaced in your car – just not as often 🙂

Repeaters
Repeaters
RF gear
RF gear
RF gear ...
RF gear …

 

It will be back on the air in a week or so after Yuri does his magic … it’s a great repeater and site.

73, Dan ve4drk

d-star …

well, i am a digital guy by heart – been working with computer since way way back .. (punched cards anyone?).  I’ve heard of this mode before and I’ve never really looked at it much before.  So, in order to understand more about it, I decided to try it out — and picked up a used ID31A (UHF d-star) radio.  It has conventional analog UHF mode as well as the dstar digital mode.  It is interesting to see the data-format used — will prove interesting as I move into using more of an integrated RF/digital mode and seeing what this protocol can do.  Naturally, one can replace the payload with whatever codec one needs — I’m interested in seeing if this codec2 can play well with the other options out there — will see.

73, Dan ve4drk

d-star (oldie)
d-star (oldie)

Repeater controller – cool

I’ve been lucky enough to work with a group that is dabbling in some interesting technology.  The MRS (Manitoba Repeater Society) – are working with Sierra Radio Systems with their beta RoIP device.  An rather interesting set of components compliments this setup.

A nice backplane to host the expansion cards.  A hosting ratio CPU board, a couple of radio interface controlling units and a new beta interface board.  This spiffy little guy is a unique merging of tech – it uses a beagle board (black) as the primary computing platform – which in itself is quite the unit for experimenting with! add a custom codec chipset and away we go.  The idea here is to provide a means to control the repeater systems remotely, automatically, scheduled events etc as well as providing a back-channel of VoIP connectivity to the main repeater systems.  All with standard open-source components/software.  I’ve got a fair bit of background with using/administering asterisk servers, so this is a nature interest.

IMG_20141101_121930

New beta VoIP board
New beta VoIP board

 

I’ve got the unit up and running and on-line.  Will be very interesting to get this interfaced with the spare repeater Derek VE4HAY has and test this new mode out!

73, Dan ve4drk

CQ WPX Contest, RSMB Meet, Canada Day Contest, MARM fest, WPG Digital Rerpeater Group, etc

Well, I have some catching up to do on the posting front … it seems there have been some activities which I have not updated on in some time.  Summer months meant it wasn’t as busy on the posting front, but we’ll change that.

May 24-25 I participated in the CQ WPX contest — I think it was my first time submitting scores for that, but I neglected to note that.  Regardless, it was fun and I logged in quite a few contacts.  I did receive my results back — was behind VE4VT, VE4YU — good luck next time to me 🙂

June Radiosport Manitoba meeting (http://rsmb.keizer.ca) had us meeting at Cary’s VE4EA’s household in my ol’ stompin’ grounds in Garden City part of Winnipeg.  It was great to see Cary’s setup and tower.  Of significant interest was the presentation by VE6TL on solar analysis.  The presentation was great and I only wish we could have more of that – it was a great learning meeting.  Jim VE4SIG also attended as he is organizing the 2014 WARC Field Day and RSMB will be operating the contest stations.  A great turnout as usual, VE4YU, VE4EAR, VE4EA, VE4GV, VE4DXR, VE4XT, VE4DRK with guests VE6TL, K7MKL, W6NF/VE4SNA, VE4SIG, VE4TTH.

Almost forgot to mention the June field-day!  Wow – what an event.  There was great support from a number of fronts and it was great to operate in – my first time at that.  I was able to work quite the pile-up with Yuri’s home-brew 40m loop antenna 🙂  It also performed quite well on other bands as well, go figure.    The 40m vertical array was sorta up – some issues, but the 40m vertical was still solid.  Of also significant note would be the conditions we had to work through.  I wasn’t around in the wee hours, but I did hear that Jerry VE6TL did have his operating tent and rigs fall on him during a vicious wind/rain storm.  I think we will be looking for solid structures to operate from in succeeding years – -a trailer may be in order.  I will certainly look forward to spending more time at field day next year!

July 1st makes it Canada Day contest day!  and I was able to work the contest at least for a while.  Will see how the results tally up.

August 16 was the MARM fest.  It’s a great organization and was celebrating it’s 25th year of MARMfesting.  A great achievement.  Unfortunately this may be the last official MARMfest in Austin, but will see.  There’s still a great time had by all who attend and have some eye-balls with those we’ve met over the air, but never in person.  The semi-annual MRS meeting was also held there with a presentation on the current status of the repeaters and linking system and more memberships were brought in – a great time.

Some of us local folk have been interested in supporting a high-speed ham-only digital network on our 2.3GHz bands for all ham groups and hams to use.  It is operational.  The local Winnipeg Digital Repeater group had it’s meeting on September 3 and William VE4VR and I attended to discuss options and plans for integrating the high-speed network.  In the end, it’s a great opportunity, so I also joined that group to support their efforts.

Upcoming events include the Sep meeting of the RSMB at Ed VE4YU’s home and hopefully some more contests.

I’ve been able to aquire an older TA33 Mosley tri-band beam — it’s a good size, as well as a 48′ self-supporting dmx tower – which will hopefully find it’s way to my QTH in short order.  Work is underway to re-do the landscaping, so will see where the tower goes.  Will see if there is time to put it all up prior to the snow flying, but that’s another challenge.

Regardless, I have also received a couple of satellite dish and their mounts to use on mounting a pole to support my 2.3GHz HSMM node – now that I have the outside-rated cable, will see how well the path works between my QTH and the node in Osborne Village.

73, Dan ve4drk

 

 

VE4WRS …

This is a VHF repeater located on top of the Radisson Hotel in downtown Winnipeg – and is run by the MRS group (Manitoba Repeater Society).  Today, I was part of a group who went up to ensure the COS was operating and that it would work properly with the IRLP setup on that site.   We confirmed all is good with the network/etc and started logging state changes in the controller as Yuri probed the controller and did the soldering to wire it up.  After reviewing some online documentation on the controller pins/etc, we were able to isolate the proper connection – and viola – proper DTMF recognition on the software side 🙂

Our little group consisted of Ed, Yuri, Derek, Robert and myself — only took about 2.5 hrs to complete the operation …

Some pics of the work site below:

73, Dan ve4drk

Yuri and Ed
Yuri and Ed
Derek and Robert
Derek and Robert
Yuri, Ed and Robert
Yuri, Ed and Robert
Yuri and Ed
Yuri and Ed
Yuri and Ed
Yuri and Ed
Yuri soldering away
Yuri soldering away
lower section of the tower on top of the hotel ...
lower section of the tower on top of the hotel …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit to VE4VJ/VE4WPG

(Note I put VE4VJ first — I like that repeater more than WPG 🙂

Anyways — Had the chance to visit the top of the Richardson Building in downtown Winnipeg to assist in putting up a high-speed digital link to another intermediary — unfortunately, where the tower was located (on the far-side of where we were going to) and the angle was too steep (only on the other side of the block) – the link would be untenable. 🙂

So – looking for another means to put that into operation — there is always more than one way to skin a cat … more to come I’m sure …

Oh yeah – some pics from up high — great location though.

73, Dan ve4drkIMG_20131227_084916 IMG_20131227_084907 IMG_20131227_084928