W8TCM Digital Repeater on the air!

Today the 148.860 W8TCM repeater was upgraded from an aged Motorola MSR2000 system with an ACC RC-85 controller to a brand-new Yaesu SystemFusion Analog+Digital repeater system. Along with the upgrade were several clean-ups to the installation, including moving the UHF repeater out of an inadequate housing to being located in a rack with the other repeater and duplexer units.

W8TCM repeaters - 4/25/2015

W8TCM repeaters – 4/25/2015

There are some changes you should make note of to the way the 146.86 W8TCM repeater operates.

Here is an overview:

  • both analog and digital (C4FM) signals are repeated.
  • you will hear digital noise unless you use Tone Decode on your radios.
  • CW-only. no voice IDs.
  • No courtesy tone.
  • Shorter post-transmission “hang time”.
  • PL 114.8 required (PL tone 100 no longer works).
  • No way to bypass PL tone requirement.

This Tuesday Mike Flynn KC8GW will do a presentation at the CARC General Meeting on the Yaesu SystemFusion digital system. You will not want to miss it, as you’ll learn all about the cool digital features that are now available on 146.86 .. as well as 147.040 in Benzonia, and as soon as next month two other systems in the greater Grand Traverse area! 


 

Here is a more in-depth review of the above:

  1. Supports automatic analog/digital mode selection
    1. stations sending digital signals will be repeated in digital format.
    2. stations sending analog signals will be repeated in analog format.
  2. If you use an analog radio, you will eventually hear “digital noise” when digital systems communicate, and it will probably sound like loud static and annoy you. 
    1. To rectify this, please set your radio’s tone decoder to 114.8 HZ. This way, your radio will only un-mute the channel when there is an analog signal you can listen to. Digital signals repeated will not be transmitted with the correct tone, and radios set to tone decode 114.8HZ will not annoy you by making you listen to the digital noise.
  3. CW-Only ID
    1. The Yaesu SystemFusion repeater does allow use of an external controller. However, utilizing one disables the digital functions of the repeater, which are the motivating reasons to upgrade the system. 
    2. The built-in (limited analog function) controller does not support synthesized voice and is only capable of identifying as “DE CALLSIGN” in morse code. This means announcements of nets, events, and reminders in synthesized voice format are now discontinued. There is no way to disable the factory defined prefix of “DE” in morse code that precedes each identification – Yaesu suggests that US hams come to terms with welcoming the “DE” preamble in repeater identification standards, which is currently not an FCC requirement, nor a necessary preamble.
  4. No Courtesy Tone
    1. The Yaesu SystemFusion repeater does allow use of an external controller. However, utilizing one disables the digital functions of the repeater, which are the motivating reasons to upgrade the system. 
    2. The built-in (limited analog function) controller does not support a courtesy tone.
  5. Shorter “Hang-Time”
    1. The Yaesu SystemFusion repeater does allow use of an external controller. However, utilizing one disables the digital functions of the repeater, which are the motivating reasons to upgrade the system. 
    2. The built-in (limited analog function) controller does not support a changeable “hang time” period – the amount of time that the repeater stays “on the air” after you end your transmission. There is only one setting – the factory default, and Yaesu suggests that you learn to like it.
  6. Only PL tone 114.8 will work to use the repeater.
    1. The Yaesu SystemFusion repeater does allow use of an external controller. However, utilizing one disables the digital functions of the repeater, which are the motivating reasons to upgrade the system. 
    2. The built-in (limited analog function) controller will only accept one PL tone (114.8HZ) for access. The previous controller was able to use either 114.8HZ and 100HZ  – this is now no longer allowed. You must use PL tone 114.8 in order to use the repeater.
  7. No PL-Tone bypass
    1. The Yaesu SystemFusion repeater does allow use of an external controller. However, utilizing one disables the digital functions of the repeater, which are the motivating reasons to upgrade the system.
    2. On our previous controller, one could bypass the PL tone requirement for a period of time by entering touch-tone code “1 1″ and then no tone would be needed to use the repeater. This was sometimes useful during nets, emergency exercises, and other conditions. Since the built-in (limited analog function) controller is not capable of responding to DTMF codes (touch tones) in any way, there is no way to allow this function.

 

Other than the above changes, the repeater should actually perform better than the previous system – the receiver (as published specs show) is more sensitive and selective than the MSR2000, and the RF format feature set and audio quality are vastly improved compared to the MSR2000 and ACC RC-85.

We encourage you to try out the new system – it sure sounds great! Sure, there will be some changes to get used to, but the addition of the digital capabilities more than make up for the features that are lost. Also, Yaesu is busily working on new firmware for the DR-1X repeater system that should restore some of the “missing” features we’d come to use over the years.

Please don’t hesitate to call, email, or talk on the repeater to us to report your impressions/thoughts/questions/concerns/signal-reports on the new system. We would really like to know how YOU think it is working.

 

AND REMEMBER! This coming Tuesday Mike Flynn KC8GW will do a presentation at the CARC General Meeting on the Yaesu SystemFusion digital system. You will not want to miss it, as you’ll learn all about the cool digital features that are now available on 146.86 .. as well as 147.040 in Benzonia, and as soon as next month two other systems in the greater Grand Traverse area!

MIQP 2015 results!

We had 13 people show up in the CARC Radio Room in the lower level of the Salvation Army on Barlow during the contest from noon to midnight on Saturday.

Many chose to operate, others chose to observe, and everyone learned at least something!

We made 175 contacts, scored 10458 points, worked a total of 56 unique counties, and 12 other states. 41 of our contacts came from 75M and 133 came from 40M:

 Band   Mode  QSOs     Pts  Mul
   3.5  LSB     41      40    5
     7  LSB    133     126   58
 Total  Both   174     166   63
Score: 10,458
1 Mult = 2.8 Q's

We took several breaks – many were for Pizza and Orange Pop (Thanks Glen!) and Donuts, Coffee, Chips and other goodies. Some were for antenna work – as a bonus, we ran new feedline to the G5RV and were able to raise the antenna the remainder of the way up to its rightful position (previous feedline issues prohibited that). We took some breaks to clean the shack/workroom, fix odds and ends, hook up the SATERN Packet station (which is now on the air on 145.09 as W8TCM), and many good “educational” breaks to teach operating, let those who have never played with one work an HF radio, others watch how to run a contest, work exchanges, work logging software, and run a frequency.

It was a GREAT night, and a lot of people had a lot of fun!

Another bonus – the new Yaesu SystemFusion has been programmed. It is ready to install. We are scheduling this now, but expect it to occur sometime during the coming weekend (Perhaps Saturday).

Special thanks to Joe KC8RLU, Glen K8SGZ (prev. KD8VSI), Joe W8TVT, Russ K8RUS, and special thanks to Gary and Pooch for helping run the LMR-400 into the shack!

 

73 and Thanks to everyone who made the 2015 Michigan QSO Party a terrific event!

de Joe, N8CN

 

Streaming Audio from the Club Repeaters – Online Now!

Broadcastify - W8TCMIf you’re like me, sometimes your schedule is so busy that you just can’t get to the radio to check into the MESH Net, or maybe you are stuck in a basement or at work and wish you could listen to the repeater. Well – dread no more, I have a solution to your woes!

I was wondering what to do with some extra hardware that I was playing with after a repeater interfacing mock-up I was working on a couple of months ago. Without going into a lot of technical detail, I was able to reconfigure some older systems, repurpose a couple of scanning receivers that my wife will no longer allow me to set up in main rooms in our house, and configured it to stream audio from both repeaters live to the internet!

That’s right – if you have internet access, you can listen to the W8TCM Repeaters Live! Thanks to the folks at RadioReference.com (in partnership with broadcastify) you can listen for free, and I can stream it to their servers for free. You can search for “W8TCM” right from the main page and find it, or you can use this link: http://www.broadcastify.com/listen/feed/17816

IOS app

IOS app

At the time of writing, from the webpage you are able to stream into Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, iTunes, or Winamp. There is also a Java player and a web-based player. There is an app called “Scanner Radio” in both the Android Google Play and IOS Apple App Stores

– for free!

So – enjoy the repeater audio, whether you’re stuck in a basement or miles away!

– 73 Joe N8CN