July 26th, 2008

Union County, middle school mural

Cross-band repeat

Yesterday I helped to set up a dual-band radio as a cross band repeater. In plain English, that means we did this:

You may recall me saying once or twice that repeaters are those radios that receive a transmission and then retransmit it over a wider range. The idea is that with the repeater, people with handheld and mobile radios can communicate over a much greater distance than they would be able to alone.

Well, we set up a mobile radio to act like a repeater. It took in signals sent by other people and retransmitted them out again on a different frequency. It's called dual-band repeat because the radio (now repeater) took in signals from one band (70 cm) and retransmitted them on another band (2 m). To add to my confusion, the output frequency we set was actually the input frequency to another repeater (the club repeater that everyone around here uses), so we ended up chatting with some folks on the club repeater. We were transmitting on 70 cm, being picked up by Tom's mobile rig and retransmitted to the MARC repeater on the 2m band, and then being picked up by lots of people who were listening into the repeater. It took me a little time to get that figured out.

Why would we want to set up our own repeater?
On Sunday, there is another running event, but this time it is not in town. The landscape is hilly and when you are in a valley, you cannot hit the repeater in town. To ensure that we have coverage of those areas, we may set up our own repeater so those people in the valleys can get their signal up and over to net control. We also plan to give them directional antennas which they could use to point the signal right at net control. There are a number of ways to make sure that your signal gets where it needs to.

An important part of all of this, though, is testing. So we spent the entire night testing our set-up and assisting others as they tested their J-poles and rigs. In the midst of the work, we even ran into a fellow from Virginia who happened to visit the local repeater frequency. For being so far away, his signal was great!

At the end of a long night's work, we had pizza with sausage and onions. I call that a good day.

What extra energy?

After I finished my wonton soup, I was thinking how nice it would be to take a nap. My fortune cookie responded: "Take a very long walk to burn off all that extra energy today."

...I think you've got the wrong person, fortune cookie.
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