Thursday, September 3, 2009

144.350 and 144.390 APRS Update

The BALDI digipeater has a new TNC, the old Kantronics KPC3 was replaced recently with a Argent Data Open Tracker 2 making for a better digipeater that could be more easily remotely controlled, and also has direct support for a weather station (see next item). Last weekend the transmission line to the top of the 80 foot tower was upgraded to a run of hard line. This will greatly increase the usable range of BALDI on 144.390.

Weather Station
BALDI is now sporting a weather station. A Peet Brothers 2100 is now fully functional at Baldi providing for weather observations from a location where there are no other weather stations nearby. Fully knowledgeable that BALDI is a really severe location in the winter, the remote sensing devices are heated (optional). This is a dream of mine fully realized after the 17 years I've been at Baldi, we've finally got around to making it happen.

We've traded out the 2 element folded dipole that was installed last fall with a 8 element folded dipole commercial grade antenna. Testing has proved this was the right decision. Doing so solidified our connection to VHEBO in the mountains SW of Portland, 160 miles away. We're now often Igated directly by the Internet connection at VHEBO.

In early July we added a Kenwood D-710 at the top of the Crystal Mountain Ski Area on the east side of the Mount Rainier National Park at 6,800 feet. This "double sided digi" as its been nick named has truly been working amazingly well. Its operating on 144.350 @9600 baud on the internal Kenwood TNC, and a Argent Data Open Tracker 2 TNC on the external data port. With both the high elevation and Mount Rainier right across the valley this site is working fantastically! Mountain bounce has really been our friend for this site's great coverage! Heard direct in Idaho, Salem and Victoria/Vancouver, Canada, and many places in between. This site has really filled in a lot of the dead zones between Greenwater and around the mountain towards Packwood and Cayuse and Chinook Passes into Yakima. Both sides are, of course, working on the same radio and antenna, that tells us that our foot print for 144.350 and 9600 baud is equally covered. CRYSTL is on 144.350 running 9600 baud, XTAL is on 144.390 and 1200 baud.

Bob, K7MXE is the most recent addition to the 144.350 9600 baud network with his addition of a Kenwood D-700 in the Pac-Forest. This is a solar powered site, and does very well throughout Puget Sound (very near the W7PFR-1 144.390 location near Eatonville) and around the south side of Mount Rainier.

This location on the east side of Mount Rainier was a 144.390 only project for us, it too is a solar powered only site. It's located at a very remote site and access is very limited once there. It worked for a while but unfortunately failed for an unknown reason. It is a seasonal digipeater anyway and will be revived next spring. With BALDI, XTAL, SHRINR and KJ7XE-11 there is (err, was, until SHRINR failed) literally complete coverage all the way around Mount Rainier on 144.390 with a 5 watt radio. Snow will take care of this sites primary coverage area soon enough anyway.

The VHEBO is supported by the same folks that run the HEBOWX digipeater above Lincoln City, Oregon. VHEBO is working very well for the folks in the Eugene/Salem area up to the southern end of Portland and along the Oregon coast from Astoria down through Seaside, Cannon Beach and much of the coastal highway and mountains towards Yachts.

There are a number of Igates located throughout Puget Sound, in addition to VHEBO, that works very reliably.

We've recently been granted permission from the coordinators in California to begin testing at a site in California. More on this later, but for now I'll say that it is in Northern California and will have coverage through the major population areas.


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