Lochiel Repeater And Antenna Installation

After several years of wondering if or when, we finally got a team to replace the antenna at Lochiel Repeater VK5RLH.

Dale VK5LD Grant VK5AMC and Ian VK5CZ  collected tools and enthusiasm and set off to the repeater site early Saturday Morning and met at the locked gate before assending the hill.

RLH antenna Job 002  View of the salt lake below Clare hills far to the east.

RLH antenna Job 004 Round up at the top.

vk5rlh 013

This is the rusty project we were faced with but an electric angle grinder made easier work of this rusty mess, its been there over 20 years so to be expected. When we cut the sealant off the old cable we were very pleased to find the coax connector in good order so the sealant did the job over that time period.

.vk5rlh 011 These wooden blocks supporting the heliax also needed replacing and a new one was designed by Grant which worked very well. The MFJ analyser tested the coax to still be good in spite of its age.

RLH antenna Job 009 The Team from left to right.

Ian vk5cz, Grant vk5amc , Dale vk5ld.

Thats the new top to replace the rusty one then the antenna is attached to those beafy clamps.

First we disconnected coax and took old antenna off then tested coax and cleaned up connector, then cut off rusty clamps on top sections . All this gear was lowered over the side from 45 feet up with Grant being dog man on the bottom rope. We had to come down and have a rest after every piece of old gear was cut off as its quite physical work tied in up the tower. Dale is quite tall so he had the job on the angle grinder up above his head using one hand to cut the brackets but we got things down saftely.

RLH antenna Job 008 Final preparations by Grant then the well deserved lunch break before we put the new gear on the tower.

RLH antenna Job 010 Dale on the way up to set up new instillations.

RLH antenna Job 012 Top sections on .

RLH antenna Job 015 Wrestling with the clamps and tightening nuts and bolts .

RLH antenna Job 018 Jobs done coax clamped up nicely and some rubber zip tied in places to cushion the cable on side of the tower.

Its a ugly old tower by todays standards but it is a proper communications tower designed probably in the 1960’s.

Stage 2 some time later Repeater Replacement.

Grant says goodbye to the old repeater that has served us well for several years.

RLH final 001

This repeater consisted of a Philips 828 TX/ RX with an extra receiver for 145.000 MHz to receive the WIA news broadcast from Adelaide. It was controlled remotely via DTMF tones by the great roster team of Broadcast operators for the 23 year period it was in use. Later in time a 70 cm link receive radio was added to the system to take the Broadcast from VK5RLZ output at Elizabeth because sometimes the VHF path would be noisy on 145 mhz. This function was left to the discretion of the BC op on the day. This system worked well most of the time but as the old radios and antennas RX ability was slowly getting lossy it was decided to up grade the system. All of the technical work was under taken by Grant for some years and he ended up having a great understanding of how it all worked, and any faults were fixed mostly on site, not too many times if any was a problem never solved. As the 828 became down on receive a back up rig was always kept in the hut and Grant would take the repeater rig home and get it working again on his test bench.

RLH final 004

A log book was kept in the repeater hut and notes kept of any jobs or mods and checks done over the years so it was interesting to read the dates of its conception, some of the entries show a few fine tuning jobs shortly after installation.

28/7/91 was a test day from the site to gauge coverage and possible foot print.

25/10/92 was the day the tower and antenna was installed.

13/12/92 was the day the repeater was installed .

So a great testimony to Lloyd vk5ll and his team of helpers who made it all happen back then, the old repeater was in use for 4 months short of 23 years.

RLH final 005

This is the new instillation of the uni-labs repeater given to us by AREG a group of great radio experimenters in South Australia only too willing to make sure the repeater system remains working and viable for all to use. A special thanks to Graham vk5gh who got us the repeater and made sure it ended up in a good home. Dale made the bottom cabinet to house the cavity resonators and keep them mouse proof. Dale supplied and low voltage cut off in case any power supply issues appeared  in the un maned hut. The old faithful original power supply has been set up to power the tnc for the APRS system , and the bigger Icom power supply is now running the repeater in conjunction with a truck battery on a float charge. Dale also supplied an earth leakage fitting on the end of the coax to earth the feed line in with the hut earth system.

RLH final 007

Ian climbed up the tower several times firstly to check bolts and tighten were necessary on the antenna mounts, then go about installing more rubber tube where the coax was touching the tower and causing rub points. Brett was tower dog man passing up tools saving me from climbing down.  The only other thing to do was secure the feed line on Max’s vertical that was used on the last packet digi repeater in vk5 to function as such. It was turned off in the year 2015 as we decided  no ops were using it and the txt msg probably superseded it long ago.

“Packet Radio them were the days”. VK5RLH site was the middle link for the Packet backbone from VK5RAD Adelaide to VK5RMN at the Bluff and VK5RCO across Spencer Gulf at Cowell.  It served as a vital link for many years during those times of the BBS  Packet Radio System.

RLH final 008

The Crew who had the pleasure of the final instalment of the new repeater .

Left to Right.

Dale vk5ld, Grant vk5amc, Brett vk5zii, Ian vk5cz ..

Probably the last thing to mention is the new repeater has a different time out system for remote Broadcasting so individual operators can send in the WIA news broadcast or any other related Broadcast from there own shack. With the use of an interface between rig and a PC they can download files from the internet and rebroadcast via the repeater for all to hear. We have a growing list of willing broadcasters sending up the WIA news at 7 pm local time on a Sunday evening.

The End

for now Ian vk5cz ..