March 17, 2015
By unanimous approval the membership approved the purchase of a Yaesu Fusion repeater at the March membership meeting. The repeater will initially replace the analog FM repeater that is in service on the 145.480MHz frequency. The Yaesu repeater is a dual-band unit that could possibly work in place of either our VHF or UHF repeater as needed. The new repeater is also dual mode as well. It works both in analog, FM mode and Yaesu’s Fusion digital mode. It can work either analog, digital or be in “auto sense” mode working with either analog or digital traffic as required. More information will be made available to the membership at the next meeting regarding the operation of this new repeater. We expect delivery from Yaesu in about 2 months time.
March 30, 2015
The new Yaesu Fusion repeater has arrived. We will endeavor to get it up and running on the 145.48MHz repeater frequency as soon as possible. The controller needs to be programmed with the data specific to our repeater frequency and mode of operation, but other than that, it is pretty much plug and play. The present antenna, duplexer and coax should work just fine. Likewise, the power supply and battery backup should work as well.
This repeater will still continue to work with your analog FM radios without any trouble. It will also automatically detect Yaesu Fusion digital radios and switch to digital mode when those radios are keying up the repeater.
April 4, 2015
Since this repeater is all self-contained with its own power supply and controller, we hooked it up to an AC voltage source and put a dummy load on the TX output. Some amount of programming was required to get it onto the correct frequencies. Every parameter is programmable through the touch screen interface on the front of the enclosure. No external computer is needed to do programming. After we went through the program menus and set all of the correct parameters, we tested it with a handi-talkie in the analog FM mode. Did not have a Yaesu Fusion digital radio at that time to test the digtital side of the computer.
We are going to schedule a work session in the very near future and get this repeater up and running. At that time we are going to remove the duplexer unit and have it re-tuned to the uplink and downlink frequencies. It has been awhile since that has been done. The 145.480 MHz repeater will be down for about a day when that happens. We will announce that during the Monday night nets so everyone will be aware. The 220MHz and 440MHz repeaters will still be in use and available.
This repeater controller will ID using a synthetic voice as well as by CW. We will try the voice ID first and see how that works. If it is one those annoying, synthetic voices we will probably switch back to CW. The repeater will also be set up in Auto Sense Mode in the beginning. This means that the controller will automatically sense whether the incoming signal is digital or analog FM and put the repeater radios in the correct mode. If digital radios are using the repeater, folks with analog FM radios will hear digital noise. If this becomes annoying we can put a PL tone on the repeater so that folks with analog FM radios will not hear the noise. Several of the Fusion repeaters in the Central Indiana area that are already up and running are operating in Auto Sense Mode without any major concerns with the digital noise. We’ll just see how it goes and make adjustments as needed.
May 29, 2015
We installed the repeater at Drake’s Electric here in Shelbyville. We double checked the controller programming and then put the repeater on the air around 2:00PM. Right away we noticed that the receiver side of the repeater seemed to be much more sensitive than the old repeater. We were able to carry on a conversation through the repeater from a mobile at the intersection of SR244 and SR3 near Milroy, IN and a fixed station on the near west side of Indianapolis, IN. The same two stations also worked the same distance in the Fusion digital mode as well. We got reports from HT’s located in Fairland, IN, St. Paul, IN and just north of Bengal, IN as well. All gave good signal reports working 5 watts or less.
This repeater does not have a courtesy tone but you can hear the transmit drop out and that is your indication to start talking again. Please wait for the repeater to drop out when your other party stops talking since the repeater will time out after 3 minutes of non stop use. The repeater will then stay down for awhile until it resets.
Yaesu Fusion digital radios can work the repeater in digital mode all other radios will work the repeater in analog FM mode. Any mix of digital and analog FM radios using the repeater will automatically put the repeater in analog FM mode so that all parties can communicate with each other. If a digital conversation is going on, analog FM users will hear what seems like noise being transmitted by the repeater. There is really nothing wrong with the repeater, you just won’t be able to hear the digital conversation going on, it will just sound like noise. If you key up the repeater with your analog FM radio it will cause the repeater to drop into analog FM mode along with the Fusion digital radios. At that point, everyone, including the repeater, will be in analog FM mode.
Hopefully, everyone will be able to enjoy and make use of the apparent, increased range of the repeater in analog FM and Fusion digital modes. We will consider this project complete.
June 3, 2015
Made some adjustments to the squelch setting in order to eliminate interfering signals that would key up the repeater in the early evening hours each day. We didn’t have to raise the squelch level very much in order to stop the interference. We will monitor the repeater to make sure the squelch setting is enough. If we go too high with the squelch setting then we will begin to loose coverage area with the repeater. In that case we would probably add a PL tone on the receive side of the repeater. We are not big fans of PL tones, so that will be a last resort move on our part.
So far the repeater has been a pretty good improvement and certainly was worth the money spent. The Yaesu special deal on this repeater for radio clubs was just too good to pass up.
September 1, 2015
PL tone of 88.5 Hz added to the uplink and downlink on the repeater. So far, it looks like the interference has been mostly eliminated. The squelch level has been reduced to minimum levels which should make the repeater more HT friendly as well. We will continue to monitor for interference.
Second Yaesu Fusion repeater has been purchased and will replace the 440 MHz repeater located on the WS Major Hospital Building in downtown Shelbyville. We will be mounting this repeater into a newer rack cabinet and adding a battery backup and charger/switchover device.