Repeater Cabinet and Antenna Upgrade – 2023

Over the last two years we've raised money to purchase a new dedicated receive/transmit antenna as an upgrade to our FM 2M repeater.  This page chronicles the progress of the project with some pictures for those of you who wish to follow along.  At this time, the original BridgeCom repeater is back in service, and the project considered closed.

Update for April

Thanks to the generosity of the Lake Amateur Radio Association, K4FC, we have secured the loan of a brand new Yaesu VHF repeater to place in service while our 12 year old BridgeCom repeater is returned to the "Mother Ship" for evaluation and repair of the receiver. Special thanks to Scott, KN4EHC of WestVARS, and K4AUS of LARA for making the arrangements. The plan is to install the Yaesu repeater into our cabinet this coming Wednesday, at which time we will de-install the BridgeCom in preparation to return it to BridgeCom Systems. Current turnaround is expected to be 3-4 weeks.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Yaesu repeater is coming to us with 103.5Hz CTCSS ENABLED, so it is essential that all users of the repeater program 103.5 ENCODE into their radios at a minimum, and may optionally select tone DECODE in their radios since the repeater will also be transmitting the 103.5Hz tone. This should not pose a problem, since all amateur radios for *at least* the last 20 years have included CTCSS tone encode/decode as a standard feature. In some respects, this will be a test of the viability of continuing to use CTCSS going forward, as this is the norm throughout Florida, and has the benefit of excluding reception of unwanted distant signals, such as the co-channel repeater in Jacksonville.
Thanks again to LARA for their generosity, lending a hand to a neighbor organization in need.

Update for 3/6/2023

Yesterday, AE2KP, N4GMU, KO4KVV, and WW3A completed one of the last remaining steps on our repeater project list: The 7/8" coax was routed into the 7th floor lounge at Hugh Ash Manor, a MAJOR hurdle. We hoped to make more progress, however, our benefactor and all around good guy Frank, KB4T, was stricken with food poisoning, and was unable to join us to install the connector, prepare new RF jumpers, and then thoroughly test coax and antenna before attaching them to our duplexer. Frank hopes to be able to complete this work when he's feeling better. Until then we will continue to use the old TX antenna. Stay tuned, we are on the 0.5 yard line, 1st and goal to go.

Update as of 3/1/2023

Reed, WW3A, reported the good news that the WV4ARS repeater is back on the air. While it is not connected to the new antenna yet, it is functioning off the old transmit antenna. Work to bring the 7/8" thick hard line through the exterior wall of the building and connect it to the repeater will continue through the weekend.

Update for 2/21/23

The latest update on the duplexer comes from Reed and is that N2MD was able to identify and repair some broken connections inside the cavities. Due to their heavy work schedules, they will not be able to perform precision tuning of the duplexer until next Sunday, Feb 26. The duplexer appears to be a one of a kind, and was very likely a prototype or one that was custom designed back in the day. Mark and Ed enjoy a challenge, and have blocked out that day to devote full and careful attention to our project. With patience, understanding, their skills, and a little luck, we should be rewarded soon.

The new antenna is upon the tower and the feed and ground lines were attached and routed down the tower.  The next order of business will be to route the feed line over the edge of the roof and into the room where the repeater is located.  Here are pictures from that Monday, Feb 20, 2023.

Here are pictures from 2/10/23 when we migrated all the equipment to the new cabinet and brought the antenna and gin pole up to the roof.

Thankfully, we were able to hoist the antenna and gin pole up the void in the stairwell.

For those who never saw the original rack, here are a few pictures that we took to document things before disassembly.