November update

TFMers:

Over the past weeks, we have been making a lot of changes at the Skyloft site and we would like to thank you all for your support, either financially or by volunteering. It has been so great, that we have not captured all those that have actually dropped in and we have failed to capture your name or callsign. If you have, can you please drop us an email so we can recognize you all accordingly.

Nathan VA3NXP on the tower. Photo by Mike VA3MW
Nathan VA3NXP on the tower - Photo by Mike VA3MW

What has happened so far:

  • The old and very trusted 6809 micro controller was removed from service last Sunday after literally decades of amazing service. There isn't much electronics that runs that long in today's world. It is a credit to those that designed her in the first place and how great a job they did starting from scratch. This innovation was so great in its time, that it was written up in IEEE magazine. We also thank Nigel VE3ID who has been one of the key surgeons who has kept her running for the last 10 years including recovering from a very major lightning strike over 10 years ago. The back of the rack is no longer off limits. 🙂
  • With the 6809 gone, that allows us to clean out the back room and remove everything. In order to do that, we have to turn off all the repeaters on Sunday at Skyloft. This didn't include the 2 repeaters at the CN Tower.

What works today:

  • VE3RPT 147.060+ 103.5 Hz (DR1X repeater) -- is up and running at 25 watts on a new very big vertical antenna. This repeater is now a Yaesu DR1X System Fusion. For a few days, this repeater will be running in Dual Mode (normal FM -- Called F3) and Fusion Digital (Called C4FM). Normal FM users don't have to worry about doing anything special, other than to make sure you have both CTCSS encode and decode turned on in your radio so you don't hear the digital data should it come on. In dual (or Auto mode), we share the repeater on the same frequency and it can only run 1 mode at a time. Before you get excited :), this is a temporary thing and it will be turned back to a normal FM (F3) mode shortly - when the new controller is installed
  • VE3BEG 224.86- 103.5 Hz - is up and running with 3 watts power out and no repeater tail and pretty darn good coverage, even at 3 watts. In the coming weeks, this will be replaced with a higher power set of radios, again once the new controller is up and functioning.
  • VE3RPT C - 145.25- DSTAR - is up and running on a new VHF 4 Bay antenna with coverage favouring a bit more to the north and a little less into the city. Neil VE3SST and I are still working on this antenna. It is full time connected to XRF005 C which we try to push as a GTA only reflector. This allows you to only hear those people in the GTA. John VA3BL and I are pressing the other major DSTAR repeater owners to convert one of their nodes to XRF005 C. If you would like to see which nodes are connected to what, start here: http://www.va3uv.com/VE3TNK.htm
  • VE3RPT B - 443.225+ DSTAR - is up and running with excellent coverage. We are connected to XRF005 B which is a huge party line. You can make a call on this repeater/reflector anytime and get a response. In case you'd like to see just who is on DSTAR at any time, just watch http://status.ircddb.net/. Both B and C modules can be linked to other reflectors.
  • VE3TWR - VHF - 145.41- 103.5 Hz - is up and running on the CN Tower as a normal F3 repeater (you read what F3 was earlier, correct? )
  • VE3TWR - UHF - 444.400+ 103.5 Hz and System Fusion (DR1 repeater) - This is a dual mode repeater, so users share its functions of F3 and C4FM. It is also one of our busiest repeaters, so we ask that you be courteous to others who may want to make other calls if this is one of your favourite repeaters. Considering using VE3TWR 145.41 as well. Yaesu and Radio World 'gave' this repeater to TFMCS so that we can showcase System Fusion and we ask that you give both Yaesu and Radio World your support please.

What doesn't work today:

  • All Linking - in the next month as I learn the HamStack controller, linking should return. You can throw out all your link sheets now.
  • IRLP - expected to be online by November 14th on the new Controller
  • VE3DHL - 1286Mhz - expected to be online by November 14. One holdup is that the Duplexers are out at Maple Leaf Communications. Thanks Bob for all your help! He is a great source of antennas and things.
  • VE3SIX - 53.03Mhz - expected to be online by November 14
  • VE3TFM - 29.62 - this will be some time as 10FM requires a split site with the transmitter in one place and the receiver at Skyloft
  • Skyloft Weather readings - although that might get fixed over the weekend
  • VE3TWR - VHF repeater will be replaced by a System Fusion repeater for F3 only (DR1X repeater)
  • VE3RPT - HUB will be replaced by a System Fusion repeater, possibly dual mode (DR1X repeater)

What we need from you!

Our new controller is from HamStack. They make some awesome quality stuff and have been very helpful and supportive to the TFMCS group. They also are the backbone of the Cactus Linking system. This is one impressive network. I am looking for volunteers that want to work with the HamStack Macro and Scripting. I'm a 'hack' at it and welcome some help.

What we need from the membership is what they need out of their repeater system so that we are work to design it that way. What we (I?) have in mind is:

  • VE3RPT - HUB 442.100+ 103.5 Hz - We may turn this into a normal repeater and this is a major change from the previous design. Comments are welcome. We (I?) would also like to see this a dual mode (F3/C4FM) service. This will be some of our most complicated switching from modes, link hub or normal use, but I believe we can do it with the HamStack controller
  • Your thoughts on the future of repeaters that we support. What technology do you use?

Feel free to feedback to info@tfmcs.org . Ray does a great job of forwarding those emails to the core team for input and we do always reply. If we don't, then we didn't get the original email.

Also, we couldn't make all the changes without all your support as members. It is the membership that has funded all this new hardware. We thank you all.

Michael Walker VA3MW
(Acting Technical Director)