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Sent out on 1/16/2012...

To all of our friends of EARS,

I am writing to inform you of some changes that are coming to the EARS repeater network. As many of you know, we've been trying to keep the repeaters up and running, and even expand into some more areas over the years. This task has become exceedingly difficult over time. Most of our core people have moved out of range of the repeater, and are no longer able to use, volunteer, or contribute to the system on a regular basis.

When the 145.15 was first built in 1988, the purpose was to build a repeater system that would experiment with newer technologies such as remote receivers and long distance linking. To support that vision, SWIAT (South Western Indiana Amateur Transmitters) was organized as a repeater support organization, which later expanded to a 501c3 non profit organization called EARS (Electronic Applications Radio Service). One of the decisions that made the EARS system a success was keeping it free from the politics from any one single club. EARS was designed as a repeater support organization, rather than a club, in an attempt to move forward with the technology without debate, and hopefully help unify the ham community across the state in the process. At various points along the way, we were able to link with the 145.25 in Indianapolis, creating the closest thing to a state wide repeater network we've seen to date. They were in turn linked with the FARA repeater network, which covered the entire state of Ohio as well as parts of other states. We provided autodialing autopatch services in a variety of areas before cell phones were invented or affordable. We used remote receivers in an effort to reduce the amount of occupied repeater frequencies, which led to our motto, "A Frequency is a Terrible Thing to Waste."

Since that time, the 145.25 wide area network was disassembled due to lack of financial and volunteer support. The FARA system has downsized greatly, and is a closed access system due to the lack of financial and volunteer support. EARS has been faced with a similar situation for many years now, but thanks to a few volunteers we have been able to keep things going, albeit not at the level we would like. Most of our core people have moved away from the Evansville area to pursue jobs and families. So when it comes time to do repeater work, it usually involves a lot of driving time in addition to the actual time at the sites. It's been many, many years since we've received a single monetary donation. The only way we can keep the insurance bills paid and sometimes upgrade equipment is with the money raised at the Evansville Hamfest each year. We also struggle with keeping the hamfest going. Most of the key organizers have to travel from hours away on hamfest weekend.

Since we revived the main 145.15 site in Fort Branch the last time, after yet another change of ownership, we have had feed line issues, and possibly antenna issues. After sending volunteers up the tower several times over the last couple of years, the problems persist. Our next move should be to totally replace the feed line, and possibly the antenna. This will take some money, as well as a lot of volunteers to climb the tower and provide a ground crew. We also have a lot of older, bulkier equipment that is taking up a lot of space in a small building that we are graciously provided. We also have an issue picking up the remote receive site in Mt. Vernon, which has been plaguing our restoration efforts as well.

After a lot of reminiscing and discussion with some of the founding members of EARS, I have decided that we should take the 145.15 off the air for good. We could struggle through the upgrades, but why? The repeater is not being utilized. For weeks, no one checked into the net... so we gave up on the net. We dropped the autopatch because of the expense and its lack of use since cell phones are now a better option. Other groups have created their own wide area networks to do exactly what we were doing in the 80s and 90s rather than joining together with EARS. They have raised their level of features and technology to the level the EARS system had when things were working at their best. Politics has kept us from being a partner in emergency and public service communications in the area. Our one chance to provide wide area coverage for a public service event only lasted one year, because other resources were used in subsequent years instead. So as our motto says, "A Frequency is a Terrible Thing to Waste". At this point, I think we are wasting a good repeater pair. With all the other options now in that area, I think it's time to call it quits. And, I personally do not have the time and energy to continue with the entire EARS network.

On the northern end of the system, on the other hand, we still have a purpose. We are excited about the link to the Central Indiana SKYWARN net, so they can have direct access to Knox, Daviess, Martin, Sullivan, and Greene counties through the EARS system. So we are still working on that project, as well as bringing back EchoLink and adding IRLP to the EARS network to allow those who have moved away to access the repeaters. We will focus our efforts on 146.925 and 443.925 in Vincennes, Paxton, and Terre Haute. We will be able to use some of the equipment from 145.15 to make upgrades to the remaining repeaters, and reduce the amount of sites that need to be managed.

Because we are continuing the operation of the EARS network, we will continue to operate the Evansville Hamfest, but only for a limited time.

So, as of October, 2011.... EARS no longer operates a repeater in the Evansville area.

One of the friends that we've made along the way is Mike Poe, KB9SGN, who is primarily responsible for the W9WIN repeater network. This network, comprised mostly of 440 MHz repeaters in the Bloomington, Indianapolis, Cloverdale, Bedford, and Salem areas as well as a 10 meter repeater and two 2 meter repeaters, is continuing to expand across the state. We linked with this system for the Hoosier 200 relay a few years ago. They have been able to gain some support in the EmComm realm of ham radio. And so, they have been considering expansion further into the southern tip of the state. The W9WIN system covers a large portion of central and southern Indiana, and does it well. Mike has expressed interest in taking over the site and 145.15 frequency to add into the W9WIN network should we decide to relinquish it. He has the time and resources to put into the system. So, I think this would be a good move on everyone's part. They will continue to progress on the EmComm side of things, while EARS will focus more on SKYWARN. He has also agreed to let us use the repeater for hamfest talk-in.

Over the past couple of months, we have been working on transferring responsibilities of the Fort Branch site over to the W9WIN network. That process is now complete.  A brand new repeater was installed a couple of weeks ago at Fort Branch, and was linked directly to the W9WIN network.  They are still using our antennas and feed lines until they can be replaced in the spring.  They have "patched them up" to hopefully make it through the winter.   Other than that, all EARS equipment and responsibility has been removed from Fort Branch. 

At this time, 145.15 now belongs to the W9WIN network, and is in full operation.  The new CTCSS is 136.5.  You can learn more about their system at w9win.net.  We hope you will check it out, make us of it, and support the W9WIN network.

With this new linked repeater, we will enjoy reliable communications across nearly all of southern and central Indiana.  And, it's possible that we could link the Vincennes EARS system with the W9WIN system, but only in times of need by mutual agreement.

Regardless, thank you so much for your past (and hopefully continued!) support of the EARS repeater network.

73,
Neil Rapp WB9VPG
President/Trustee
EARS

...also on 1/16/2012...

The 2m receiver (146.325) in Vincennes is down at this time.  We're looking into the problem.  The 146.925 transmitter is still working, as is the 443.925 repeater (both transmit and receive).

We're still waiting on the link transmitter to return from repair.  We are expecting it soon.  The problem was found to be an on-board switch in the radio for the PTT.  The repair facility was just waiting for the part to come in before returning it to us.

Sent out on 11/23/2011...

Just an update on the hamfest.... I had a vendor that had to cancel for medical reasons, so there are now 2 tables open after emptying the waiting list.

I think we have enough help on Saturday up until 10 am. We need some help between 10 am and 12 pm.

We could also use a couple of people on Friday night. I need someone to put up the signs, and possibly some people to help vendors unload.

I hope to see you this weekend!

Sent out on 11/6/2011...

Just an update on the hamfest.... ALL TABLES ARE SOLD OUT.
We are taking a waiting list. Any no-show tables will be sold at 8 am Saturday

NEW!!! A D-STAR forum will be held in the conference room of the Activities Center (bottom of the hill, same place testing is held) at 9 a.m. Central. This is hosted by Milt Forsberg K9QZI from the Decatur, IL area

Testing will as usual be held in the conference room at 11 am, with registration beginning at 10:30 am

I have a couple of people who have signed up to help... I could still use a few more. Email me if you can help out for an hour or two on Saturday.

Don't forget Biscuits & Gravy starts at 7 am... enter through the side door if you are coming early for breakfast

Main entrance opens at 8 am

I already have quite a few door prizes, and expecting more.... should be another good one.

Also, please note that the PL tone on 145.15 will be 136.5, and not 107.2 as it has been in the past. There is a new repeater going in very soon. More on that to come.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 10/9/2011...

Hi everyone, I am attaching a copy of our hamfest flyer for this year. Please feel free to pass this on to any clubs or hams in your area that might be interested.

If you want a table, I recommend you reserve one quickly! We already have many sold, and we usually sell out about this time of the year.

If you can help with the hamfest, even for just an hour, please let me know. We need people to sell tickets all day, and we need some people to watch doors from about 10 to 12. We will reward you with a FREE admission ticket if you help out.

If you are on Facebook and haven't signed up for our group yet, please do so! Also, you can sign up for EARS weather alerts on Facebook as well.

Sent out on 7/6/2011...

Quick update.... Eric and I just had a very productive repeater work day. The SKYWARN link is finally working!!!!!!! We tested it out, and it sounds great! We'll be sending out more information to SKYWARN groups in that area soon on how to access it. The link is to 444.35 in Terre Haute, which in turn links to 146.97 in Indianapolis. We are leaving the link to 444.35 (but not to 146.97) running for a day or two just to make sure the bugs have been worked out. Please give it a try!

Also, we turned off the other end of the Vincennes-Evansville link. 145.15 is now a stand alone repeater, with no links or remote receivers.

More details coming soon.

 

Sent out on 6/22/2011...

There was a problem with the Vincennes repeaters (146/443.925) with the receiver that picks up the Evansville 145.15 repeater that was keeping the repeater keyed. That problem has been resolved.

The link between the 145.150 and the 146/443.925 repeaters is no longer in service. This is a permanent change. The link has only been cut in one direction at this time. We will cut the other direction soon. Due to some technical problems, we could not make that happen last night. So you will still hear 146/443.925 on 145.15, but not the other way around until we can terminate the other end.

There are more changes and additions coming soon. We should be able to announce those shortly.

I tried to finish up the SKYWARN link yesterday, but again ran into yet more problems with it. We are very close. It should be working soon.

Sent out on 11/17/2010...

I still have not received any offers of help for the day of the hamfest. We still need help! Please consider volunteering for an hour. You will receive a free admission ticket in gratitude.

Also, apparently the rain has messed up the SWR again on 145.15. The repeater was turned off this evening. Hopefully it will dry out in a day or two, and we can turn it back on.

Sent out on 11/7/2010...

Hi everyone, I just wanted to remind you that the annual EARS & Ham Station Evansville Hamfest is coming up in a few weeks. We are still in need of volunteers to help with selling tickets and talk in during the hamfest on Saturday, November 27. We need ticket sellers and talk in assistance from 7 am until 12 pm. If a person volunteers for at least one hour, we will provide a free admission ticket to the hamfest. We also need a couple of people to put up signs and displays on Friday evening sometime between 5 and 7 pm. Volunteers should contact me at [email protected] to arrange a job and a time. Please consider volunteering for an hour or two.

Additionally, Jim Turner needs a couple of more volunteer examiners on Saturday morning from about 10:30 am to 1:00 pm. (Testing begins at 11 am.) Please contact him at [email protected] if you can help.

If you could, please announce the hamfest on your local nets, at your club meetings, or any other way to notify other amateur radio operators and enthusiasts.

All of our tables sold out last month. We are taking a waiting list for tables, but there are none available at this time.

We have some great prizes to give away, and we have several excellent vendors again this year including a few new ones.

For complete information, please visit http://w9ear.org/hamfest.htm

I hope to see you on November 27! We will have an APRS beacon running to direct people to the hamfest, as well as talk in on the 145.15 repeater.


Sent out on 7/10/2010...

In this issue:

* Upgrades to 145.15 Ft. Branch/Evansville/Mt. Vernon repeater this past Thursday
* Upgrades coming to 443.925/146.925 next week
* New ARRL scholarship starting in memory of Bill (Willie) Sage, K9IHU (SK)
* Illegal operators
* Autopatch removed from 146.925/443.925
* Hamfest 2009 results
* Added RADAR site to w9ear.org


REPEATER UPGRADES MADE TO 145.15 THIS WEEK

Thanks to many, 145.15 is getting closer to being back at full strength.  Barry KC9AXG made a climb to the top of the tower, anticipating a change in antennas.   But instead, we found yet another problem with the feed line.  After locating the problem, Pete W9DRB fixed (again) the jumper between the two feed lines, and Carlton KC9GIF installed it.  So the top antenna is again back in service, which greatly increased the transmit coverage, and also helped the receive coverage since the duplexers we were using temporarily could be removed.

Eric N9KDB and Pete W9DRB worked on getting the new Henry amplifier back on again, and once again it started oscillating like it did when it was first installed.  The amplifier is supposed to run 120 watts.  But, if it goes over 90 watts, it starts oscillating and sending out strange signals.  So we adjusted the input so that the amplifier is sending out 70 watts.  The amplifier seems to be happy there with some room to spare.  So we aren't running at quite the amount of power we had planned, but 70 watts on the top antenna is still very good.  It should be good enough to cover the receive area once the Mt. Vernon receiver is back online.

The Mt. Vernon receiver itself if working fine.  We confirmed the signal at the Ft. Branch site with little problem.  But the receiver picking up that signal is not working properly.  So the Mt. Vernon (main) receiver still is not online.  The Ft. Branch local receiver seems to be working pretty well though, so you should see a significant increase now.

Eric was also able to clean up some of the audio problems we had been having.  Hopefully I can finish those up next week.


UPGRADES TO 443.925/146.925 COMING IN THE NEXT WEEK (or two)

The Skywarn link has been down because of problems with the link radio.  We sent it off to be fixed, and after not hearing anything for a while I followed up only to find out the CPU was bad, and is no longer manufactured.  So we have purchased a totally new radio for the Skywarn link.  Due to the weather Thursday evening after the antenna party at Ft. Branch, Eric and I couldn't install it.  So I hope to do that next week, or the following week at the latest.  This is the link that is goes to the 444.35 Terre Haute repeater, which in turns links to 146.97 for the Central Indiana SKYWARN net.  This still won't finish up the link though.  The 444.35 has been drifting off frequency, and now is totally off the air.  They have a replacement repeater ready to go, but it still needs to be installed.  But hopefully, in the next two weeks we will have our part finished up and ready to go.


NEW ARRL SCHOLARSHIP TO HONOR BILL SAGE, K9IHU

Bill (Willie) Sage, K9IHU, from Vincennes, IN became a silent key last month.  He was my morse code instructor when I became a ham in 1976, even though I was way under the 13 year old age requirement that was originally imposed.  He was an elmer to many, including myself, in the area.  Bill was a supporter of EARS, and helped many years at the Evansville hamfest.  Bill taught us all a lot about radio, operating procedures, and CW.

In memory of his life, an annual scholarship of $500 to a deserving young amateur pursuing a college degree is being established, with preference to have been licensed under the age of 13.  We are currently raising money to support this fund.  The scholarship will be overseen and awarded by ARRL.  If you would like to contribute, please send your donations to WB9VPG or use the PayPal donation button on the w9ear.org web site.  Be sure to put in the comment "K9IHU scholarship fund".  We will forward the money to ARRL each year to pay for the scholarship.  We already have a few donations, but we will need more.  We will need more donations each year to cover the recurring cost as well.


UNLICENSED OPERATORS

We noticed recently that there are two people illegally using the repeater system with made up (and invalid!) callsigns in the Vincennes area on the 440 repeater.  If you are in this area and can get a direction on the signal on the input (448.925), please send those to me so I can coordinate the effort to track down the problem.  The signal was observed full scale on a mobile in downtown Vincennes.


AUTOPATCH IS NO MORE

Because of the infrequent use and a few random phone calls being made in the middle of the night for no reason, the last of the autopatches has been turned off.  146.925/443.925 was the last autopatch in the system.  It has been turned off, and will not be reactivated.


HAMFEST 2009 REPORT

This is long overdue, but I did want to give a report on the hamfest.  First of all, thanks so much to all those who helped watch doors, sell tickets, gave tests, moved tables, served food, put up signs, and the like.  It takes a lot of people to put this on, and since this has been our only source of our (small) income the last few years... it is crucial that we do well.  So thanks again to everyone that helped make the hamfest another success.

Tables sold out even earlier than usual last year.  Usually, tables sell out a week or two before the hamfest.  This year, it was SEVEN weeks prior to the event.  We took a waiting list, and we were able to find some spots for some people.  But, we did have to turn away a few this time.

Attendance was 444, which was up from 398 in 2008.

We did make a few changes to make things better.  One thing that hurt last year was a vendor who reserved 10 tables, but didn't show up and didn't notify us of the change.  So, we are now requiring any reservation that is for more than 2 tables to be pre-paid.  We are also moving up the early-bird table registration deadline.  Instead of November 15, payments to guarantee tables must be received by November 1.   The table cost will still be $10 with the early-bird registration, but will now increase to $15 after November 1.  In the past, tables have only been $12 each after November 15.  We also raised the admission fee by $1.  This is necessary because of the annually increasing rent for the building, which is our main expense.  Rent has doubled since we started 18 years ago.  Admission this year will be $8. 

As for testing, we used the conference room in the Activities Center for the 2nd year in a row.  Fortunately, the 4H center was able to work with us to make that room available.  This provides much more room, and a much better atmosphere for testing.  Jim Turner WB9PZB headed up the VE team again this year, and here are the results:

16 INDIVIDUALS
Tech        4 Failed         4 Passed
General   4 Failed          4 Passed
Extra        2 Failed          4 Passed

Thanks again to all those who attended, helped, and sold goods.  Be sure to save the date for this year... Saturday, November 27.  Same time.  Same place.  Same frequency.


W9EAR.ORG WEB SITE

Updating the web site has been on my list of things to do, and I hope to get to it soon.  I know a lot of the VE information especially is out of date.

Eric N9KDB has made an addition to the web site RADAR.  We now have the Indianapolis Airport Terminal RADAR online in addition to the National Weather Service.  This RADAR has a higher level of detail.  So be sure to check it out at w9ear.org/radar.htm.


That's all for now.  Be sure to check out our Facebook group if you are into that. 

Link to EARS group on Facebook

73.

Neil Rapp WB9VPG

 

Sent out on 4/27/2010...

Hi everyone, sorry for the delay in communication.  It's been a very busy few months.  I know I still owe everyone a final report on the hamfest.  It did go well.  Attendance was up slightly, and several people passed exams.  We did make some slight changes on table reservations due to the increased demand and the one no-show vendor.  I'll give you more details soon.

Today, Eric N9KDB, Mike N5CEC, and I went to the Paxton 146.925 transmit site to begin the next round of spring/summer repairs to the repeater system.  Mike climbed the tower, and found our SWR problem that has been a problem for a long time.  It was a jumper between the antenna and the hard line.  So he replaced that jumper, and the SWR is back to normal.  He also re-attached the link beam, so we're back to using split antennas.  Eric and Mike switched out the power supply to the main amplifier, and did some troubleshooting.  The amplifier came back to life for a few seconds, and then died again.  So we're going to try switching out another unit on the next trip.  So we're still only running 10 watts, but you should notice a little better signal now that the antenna problem is fixed.  We also have a power supply for the transmittter that is starting to fail.  So we will have to replace it soon.

Later in the summer, we'll also plan a work day at Ft. Branch to address the antenna problem there.

The SKYWARN link radio from Vincennes to Terre Haute was sent off to be repaired last month. We're awaiting its return.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

 

Sent out on 11/23/2009...

We were not able to address the antenna issues on the tower.  The main antenna is now shorted completely.  So it will not be usable at all until we have a tower climber.  So, we are temporarily transmitting off the lower antenna, which seems to be in good shape now!  We will be duplexing off this antenna if everything goes right.  We also are trying to get the link between the Mt. Vernon receiver back to Ft. Branch working.  There could be 2 different issues with that.  We hope to have that working by the end of the week.

The hamfest is going to be another good one.  We had a couple of vendors that had to cancel, but those tables were filled from the waiting list.  So we still have a sell out on table space.  A current list of commercial vendors is on the web site, and was updated this evening.  Hope to see you this weekend if you can attend.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

 

Sent out on 11/16/2009...

We are planning some repeater work at Ft. Branch on Saturday afternoon.  If anyone can climb, we could use a tower climber on Saturday to check some antennas and feed lines.  Our usual guy, Barry, won't be able to do it this time around.  So if you can climb and are available on Saturday afternoon, please let me know.

Don't forget the hamfest is coming up soon!  We have several volunteers now, but we could still use a few more.  Let me know if you can help out.

Thanks and 73,
Neil WB9VPG

 

Sent out on 9/15/2009...

145.15 is back on the air.  Thanks to Barry KC9AXG for going up the tower (AGAIN!), and Pete W9DRB for making up the new jumper and taking care of the job.  The bad news is that there is a problem somewhere with the hard line section at the top.  So the amplifier is still off the air.  But, we are back on.  And, we hope to have reports soon about the Mt. Vernon receiver.  Hopefully it's making the trip back to the transmit site.  If so, the receive coverage should have jumped up big time.

Keep November 28 open if you can.  We will need help again with the hamfest.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

 

Sent out on 7/24/2009...

I will be at the ARRL teachers institute this coming week at ARRL HQ.  They have arranged for us to have operating times on W1AW during our lunch breaks.  So I won't know until the last minute when and where I will be on, but during lunch time either Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday I will be on W1AW. 

I'm making up an email list of people who want to try to work me while I'm there.  As soon as I find out what frequency I will be on, I will send out the email.  Again, the only possible times (at least for now) are somewhere in the 11 am to 1 pm Eastern range (10 to 12 Central time) on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.  You'll just have to watch your email during those times for the exact time and frequency.

So if you would like to be added to the list, let me know.  I will finish up the list Sunday night.

In other news, the Skywarn link radio receiver is dead.  We're working on a plan for that.  The Mt. Vernon remote receiver is back up on a borrowed antenna.  As soon as we get Ft. Branch back up, with any luck Mt. Vernon will be as well.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 7/1/2009...

The 146.925 transmitter at Paxton is back on at low power.  The feed line came loose from the antenna that receives the UHF link from Vincennes.  Thanks to Eric N9KDB for getting it back on the air.

Sent out on 6/22/2009...

Good news/bad news... 145.15 is off the air right now.  We found 2 problems on Saturday at Ft. Branch.  We fixed the antenna problem by installing a new connector, so we don't have to get a harness and rework the antenna again.  So we bypassed the whole temporary antenna plan and fixed it on the fly.  So the antenna is now fine, and we won't have to worry about it for a long time.

The reason it's off the air is we found a bigger problem... a bad adapter between the 2 pieces of hard line and maybe damage to one of the hard line connectors.  So it's disconnected about 2/3 the way up the tower right now.  We're hoping to put a jumper in place soon, but until then we're off the air from Ft. Branch.

As usual, a BIG THANK YOU to Barry KC9AXG for all the tower work in the extreme heat, and to Pete W9DRB for his hard work and expertise.  Also thanks to Carlton KC9GIF who was a big help with the ground crew.

I also tried to put the Skywarn link back on Sunday at Vincennes.  It didn't help.  I think the radio is bad.  I'll check more when I'm back home.

Don't forget Field Day is this coming weekend.  Support your local radio club/group and get on the air if you can!

73,
Neil WB9VPG

 

Sent out on 6/16/2009...

I took the amplifier out of line on Thursday.  Apparently, we have water getting into the coax for the lower antenna we were using temporarily because of the water getting into the top antenna.  The high SWR was causing the amplifier to make weird noises and spurs.  So we are now back on the top antenna, but only at 7 watts.  We're going to try to temporarily replace the top antenna this weekend so it can be repaired.  The amplifier will continue to be offline until the antenna situation is resolved.

The main receiver (outside Mt. Vernon) is off the air because someone cut the hard line to steal it.  We're working on borrowing an antenna or replacing the line in the future to get that site back on.

Sent out on 4/27/2009...

Hi everyone, we have good news!  Pete W9DRB was able to replace the transmitter at Ft. Branch on Saturday afternoon.  That seems to have cleared up all the strange oscillations that have been happening lately.  So we're back on the air at about 2/3 power.  Once we see how the new amp is doing with the new transmitter in place, we'll try turning it up to full power.  The next projects will be to swap the transmit antenna, and to get the remote receiver back up and running.

Eric has requested that if you hear a weather (or amber) alert from the Ft. Branch site (originating in Paducah) to please let us know.  There should be a test on Wednesday between 10 am and noon every week, unless there is severe weather in the area.  And then of course, when there is severe weather in the area there could be warnings issued.  We'd like to know about the first few of these just to make sure everything is working ok.  So if you hear a weather or amber alert issued on the repeater, please drop me an email and let me know what it was and about when you heard it.  If the alert comes from the Vincennes site, we don't need to know about it.  If you're not sure which repeater it came from, just send it anyway and we'll try to figure it out from the time it was issued.

Thanks and 73,
Neil WB9VPG

 

Sent out on 4/23/2009...

Hi folks, good news and bad news.  I worked on the 515 a little on Friday and Sunday, and then Eric and I spent all day yesterday down there.  The amp went down over the weekend.  On Wednesday, we were able to get it back on and eliminated some interference it was causing.  We adjusted the audio all the way through the system, and installed a new weather alert system! 

The bad news is that we ended up shutting down the repeater today.  The transmitter started doing funny things about an hour after we left, and it became progressively worse as time went on.  We think we have tracked down the problem, so we will replace the exciter on the next trip.  In the mean time, I'm afraid we're off the air.  The transmitter was in some kind of oscillation.  I'll continue to post updates to the web site.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

 

Sent out on 3/18/2009...

IN THIS ISSUE
+ New amplifier for 145.15 on the air
+ Temperature in Vincennes isn't really 440 degrees - the sensor has been replaced
+ New remote receiver for 146.925 in downtown Terre Haute (beta)

The last two days have been mostly repeater work.

Yesterday, Pete W9DRB installed the repaired power supply and UHF receiver at the Ft. Branch 145.15 site.  The transmitter is now running 124 watts, so it should be getting out a lot better.  The new amp seems to be running great.  It's still on the lower antenna though, so it will get even better eventually.  The UHF receiver will make it possible to put the main receive site (Mt. Vernon) back online.  Something is now wrong on that end, so we'll have to find out what is going on there.  So there's still work to do at Ft. Branch, but now it's a lot closer to being finished.

Today, I put a new temperature sensor in at Vincennes, and then went to Terre Haute to install the new remote receiver for 146.925.  As you may recall, we lost the remote receive site at WTWO in Farmersburg due to the 30+ year old antenna finally dying, and the new digital TV antenna installation.  We had tossed around some ideas once the DTV transition is over, but we had a couple of other offers in the Terre Haute area.  The Wabash Valley ARA (W9UUU) offered to let us use a site that had been originally designated for their use, but they got a better offer after the antennas were donated and already in place.  It's on top of one of the buildings at Indiana State University in downtown Terre Haute.  It's up about 200', and it's on the air right now.  We're still doing some testing to make sure we have an adequate signal and that we're not causing any interference to the other amateur and broadcast installations already there.  This was a super easy install, and too good to pass up.  So we have a remote receiver back in the Terre Haute area on 146.925.  Give it a try.  Tone (107.2) is REQUIRED.  Thanks to Dave N9YNF for helping with install and making the appropriate contacts, as well as WVARA - in particular Kevin K9HX and Chuck W9COD.

Kevin K9HX also reports that the Terre Haute 440 repeater that links into the Central Indiana Skywarn net should be replaced in the next couple of weeks, which will finish up the process of linking from the EARS system into the Skywarn system.  More news as it develops.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

 

Sent out on 12/30/2008...

* Hamfest report
* Facebook group
* Repeater work update
* Locating the Pest

HAMFEST REPORT

We had another successful hamfest over Thanksgiving weekend.  We had an attendance of 398, which was only 10 less than 2007.  We did of course run into some unexpected problems with the change in venue.  We were not able to resolve them all, but we were able to still have a pretty good hamfest.  We will be glad, however, to return to the intended facility (the auditorium) next year.  Thanks again to all those who helped.  We were able to meet expenses.


FACEBOOK GROUP

If any of you are on Facebook, we have an EARS group now on that service.  If you want to join, just go to "Groups" and search for EARS.


REPEATER WORK UPDATE

Pete W9DRB and I spent the day at the Ft. Branch site.  We had been waiting since April to hear back from Mirage amplifiers, only to hear that the amplifier was totalled.  We ordered a new Henry amplifier to replace the amp due to all the long delays in purchase, repair, and replacement of the amplifier over the past few years.  We've heard good things about the Henry amps, and so we're going to give it a try.  It arrived within a week, which was a welcome change from the 8-12 months it took to get the last two.  We installed the amp, but we were unable to fix the power supply.  So the new amplifier for 145.15 is not yet online.  We did switch antennas between the transmitter and receiver.  The receive antenna is now the top antenna, but it has SWR problems.  We are planning on repairing that antenna in the spring.  With the extra height but the addition of water in the phasing harness, the receive coverage is nearly the same as it was on the lower antenna.  The transmitter is now being fed into the lower antenna, which has a very good SWR but of course does not have the same amount of output coverage due to the lower height.  We had hoped that the amp would more than make up for that, but the power supply problems kept us from turning the amp on today.  So, you may notice some changes in the coverage area until the amp is online, and again when the antenna is repaired and swapped back in the original configuration.  Pete is working on the power supply, as well as the Mt. Vernon receive site receiver at home.

I tried to replace the thermometer on 146.925/443.925, but could not get access to the site due to the padlocks being separated.  I'll try again soon.

LOCATING THE PEST

We often receive newsletters from other surrounding clubs, and we send out these email updates to those clubs to keep everyone informed of what's happening in our area so we can all work together. 

One article that I noticed of interest comes from the Wabash Valley Amateur Radio Association (WVARA) newsletter, "The Bandspread", from the Terre Haute area.  I am reprinting the article below with permission from the author, Carl KC9AEM, and the Bandspread editor, Gary K9ERE.  If you have something of interest such as this article, please email it to [email protected] for our next email newsletter!

LOCATING THE PEST... by Carl, KC9AEM

     As some of you already know, I have had problems with bursts of static on the 2 meter band between 142 and 152 megs on my Icom 706 Mk II G for a year.  It was bad enough that I had to keep the squelch control set on 4 "S" units in order not to hear the static or to keep the static from stopping the memory scan.  When I couldn't "wish it away", I borrowed a 706 from John T, K9PIE, and it responded in the same way.  So I borrowed a tape measure antenna from W9COD and then I made a crate for the 706.  Taking the battery from my motor scooter, I went hunting.

     I found the house in my neighborhood, but then the problem became how to deal with this.  The house is occupied by an elderly lady that I have seen and spoken to at her mailbox as I passed by on my bicycle but she would never respond.  Okay, maybe she is hard of hearing.  But looking at her face, she is either in a lot of pain or, shall we say, very grumpy.  So I finally decided to write her a letter rather than show up at her door, and break this information to her in a way that she could read it over and digest it.  In the letter, I gave her my name, address, phone number, and that the problem seemed to be coming from her residence.  I asked her if it would be possible to locate the problem in her house and work with me in getting this solved and that after she had discussed this with family, please call me.

     A couple of days later, her son called me and identified himself and without giving me a chance to respond to him, he started in on me.  His first comments were: "What are you up to?  Why do you want to get into this house?  What are you trying to pull?"  Then he told me that his father used to be an amateur radio operator and that he knew all about this stuff and that there was nothing in this house causing interference, and he went on and on.  Finally, he gave me a chance to respond, but to no avail.  So finally I said to him, "I am sorry to have bothered you.  Please give my apologies to your mother."  (Name withheld to protect the guilty), and I hung up.

     I admit I was mad.  I could understand their suspicion, but on a scale of 1 to 10, their tact and diplomacy was below "0".  This was pretty much what I was afraid would happen just looking at the lady.  So now what do I do?

     The next day, the son called me back.  This time he was asking questions and he asked me to describe the interference.  I told him it was erratic bursts of static.  To make a long story short, he decided to cooperate with me without letting me into the house.  It turns out the problem was one of those little electronic pest repellers that you plug into an AC receptacle.  When he unplugged it, the bursts of static quit.

     So I offered to purchase them another pest repeller of a different brand, to see if we could live with that.  His answer, "Oh no!  She has a pest control service come in once a month; she doesn't even need that thing.   We'll just leave it unplugged"!  Oooohhh, where is my baseball bat???

     As Paul Harvey would say, "And now you know the rest of the story."  I guess all is well that ends well!

     One added note:   these bursts of static did not affect my Yaesu mobile or my Kenwood HT, just the Icom 706 Mk II G.  Interesting, huh??


Thanks Carl and Gary for sharing this article with us.  I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to one and all.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

 

Sent out on 11/2/2008...

Just wanted to update everyone on the hamfest.  Everything is coming together.  We will be in a different building for THIS YEAR ONLY.  This is due to scheduling conflicts with the auditorium.  Things should be pretty similar to the old building.  The amount of space is nearly the same, and we will have heat and be all indoors except the brave tailgaters.  N9NPN has come forward to help with our security, as have a few others.  We still need some help with talk-in, ticket selling, and putting up signs on Friday night as well as Saturday morning.  If you can help, we will provide a complimentary ticket to the hamfest.  We need your support to keep the hamfest running!

Thanks to Jim WB9PZB for helping out Bob with the VE testing.  This year, VE testing will be in the activities center conference room.  Registration will begin at 10:30 am, and testing at 11.

Old Post ARS from Vincennes is planning their biscuit and gravy breakfast prior to and during the hamfest once again, as well as ham and beans for lunch time.  Be sure to spend some time socializing with other hams at the hamfest, and enjoy some great cooking from OPARS.

The backup transmitter for Paxton (146.925) has finally been received from Icom service center Michigan.  The amplifier for Ft. Branch (145.15) is now at the front of the line at Mirage amp repair.  I am planning on doing some more repeater work on election day since I have the day off work.  So listen for more updates about the repeaters.

Please spread the word about the hamfest.  We have once again decided to discontinue mailing to individual persons to advertise the hamfest.  It was very cost prohibitive.  So we now rely on our flyer campaign, magazines, club mailings, the web site, and word of mouth as we did last year.  Please announce the hamfest on the area nets as you check into those.  I am attaching a copy of the flyer.  Feel free to email and distribute it as you can.  Of course, complete information is available on the web site... http://w9ear.org/hamfest.htm

73,
Neil WB9VPG

 

Sent out on 9/29/2008...

We knew it was potentially coming, and it finally did.  WTWO has revamped the antennas on the tower in preparation for the upcoming digital TV transition.  To make room for the new antennas, and to move WFXW onto the same tower, they had to remove the receive antenna at Farmersburg.  Eric tells me it was hanging on by the tape anyway.  It was up for over 40 years!  So the Farmersburg receiver for 146.925 has signed off, at least for now.  We are looking into some other possibilities there at some point, but it will most likely be after the DTV changeover before we do much.

Hamfest plans are coming along, and we have been taking a few table reservations already.  I'm picking up the flyers tomorrow, which will go out to area hamfests, clubs, and the Ham Station.  You can also download the flyer now on the hamfest website http://w9ear.org/hamfest.htm   Like last year, we will not be mailing to individuals, so be sure to spread the word.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

 

Sent out on 9/18/2008...

Evansville:

145.15 is back on at low power (as before) as of last night - put in a new power supply

We will be replacing the antenna temporarily soon to overhaul it, and then put it back so you may notice a slight change

Amplifier is still awaiting repair at MFJ

Main receiver still down


Paxton:

146.925 transmittter still at low power


Farmersburg:

146.925 remote receiver down
Thanks to many of those who responded to our call for help with the hamfest.  We are well on our way to cover all the positions on Saturday.  We are going to have some changes this year.  The 4-H Center double booked the auditorium due to some changes in policy that we were not aware of.  There is a wedding reception in that building on Saturday, and because the contracts are already signed they can not back out of it.  So they have worked out an alternate building plan for THIS YEAR ONLY.  We already have the auditorium on hold for 2009.  We're in the final stages of the re-planning to make this new building work.  We will rent a portable heating system, so have no fear about it being too cold!  We will continue to be all indoors and heated.  We will have testing in a separate building, which will be a lot better than years past.  We also have fewer doors to watch, so that's a good thing.  We also did not have to increase the prices, so that's always a good thing!  We'll fill in the details later, but the plan is to do everything as much the same as in years past, but just in a different building.  We still need some help.  We need someone to take over putting up signs on Friday evening since Dan is no longer with us.  We will continue to need help with talk-in and because of the new layout, we could use some help Friday night for the vendor unloading.  So if you haven't volunteered already, please consider it.  If you can help out for just an hour or two, we can continue to make the hamfest a success.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 7/20/2008...

We've been doing a lot of work this summer on the EARS system.  There's more yet to be done as well.  To keep up with what is running, be sure to check the web site:  http://w9ear.org/current.htm

At Vincennes on 443.925 and 146.925, the port combiner has been fixed.  There was an IC that failed that created a problem with the 444.35 link to the Skywarn repeater in Terre Haute, and also disabled the use of CTCSS.  That's all been fixed.  We've also been working on fine tuning and reconfiguring the Skywarn link to avoid problems should this IC fail again.  The Skywarn link has been in receive only mode for several days now to test the signal coming from Terre Haute.  We are noticing that the signal from Terre Haute may be off frequency, which is causing the low signal and audio problems.  We installed a new power supply in order to raise the power of the signal from Vincennes to 444.35.  This has eliminated the noise and drop outs on the link.  We'll be testing this for another couple of weeks as we finish the reconfiguration, hopefully later this week.  I worked on the weather radio there also, which has been picking up some interference from the FM station next door.

The 146.925 transmitter at Paxton is still at low power.  Eric replaced the tube, but apparently there is also a power supply issue there.

At Ft. Branch, we finally have a permanent set of keys to the site.  Barry KC9AXG and Pete W9DRB worked on running the lines into the new building, and re-securing them to the tower.  Barry plans to finish that up, and check the connectors.  We are noticing a 2:1 SWR on the transmitter.  Hopefully that will be an easy fix.  The amplifier has been at Mirage/MFJ repair since mid-March.  They are backed up on repairs, and we hope to hear from them soon.  The power supply was damaged in late May.  I replaced the fuse, but that didn't solve the problem.  We think it's a voltage regulator.  We have the parts now, and hope to repair that soon.  We also have some more receivers, so hopefully we can put the main receive site (Mt. Vernon) back on soon.  Eric N9KDB also has a new weather alert system for the Evansville area that we're very excited about.  We hope to have that on the air soon as well.

We are starting to step up the promotion of the hamfest soon, and we need to recruit some additional volunteers.  We have had several people who have helped for many years either move away or pass on.  So we desperately need to recruit additional help this year.  If you can help, we need people to put up signs, sell tickets, watch doors, and do talk-in during the day of the hamfest.  (Saturday, November 29, 2008)  So mark your calendars now.  We provide a free admission ticket to anyone who volunteers during the hamfest for a couple of hours.

On the web site, Eric N9KDB has added a new computer which is powerful enough to run 5 radar sites now instead of just 2.  So we now have GRLevel3 running on the Indianapolis, Evansville, Lincoln IL, Louisville, KY, and Paducah, KY NWS RADAR sites.  He is trying out some new maps, and zooming in closer since we now have 5 sites to pick from.  Check it out at http://w9ear.org/radar.htm

In the future, we have obtained some new equipment to do some longer distance linking.  More on that later.

Also, at last word no one has taken down Dan KB9KCF's antennas and tower.  There's a tri-band 3 element HF beam, an 11 element beam for 2 meters, and a dual band vertical on about 30 feet of tower with a rotor.  It's all free for the taking if you go to Newburgh and take it down.  Let me know if you're interested, and I'll put you in contact with Deb.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 4/7/2008...

We are sad to announce that Dan, KB9KCF, from Newburgh is now a silent key. Dan was always around to help, whether it be moving equipment, making antenna brackets, or selling tickets at the hamfest. Dan always made sure that things got done. His committment to ham radio and EARS will be missed tremendously.

Dan was the assistant hamfest director in charge of facility setup. For many years, Dan, his wife Debby, and daughter Becky copied, folded, stapled, and mailed all those newsletters and hamfest flyers. And, together they sold most of the tickets to people attending the Evansville hamfest over the years. One of Dan's old radios is still in use on the 145.15 repeater that he donated one time when we needed a radio right away.

Dan often went to the Dayton Hamvention with Barry Tate KE4OXZ and me. Somehow, we finally talked him into getting a computer while we were there. That was the first of several that came back to his house from Dayton. He was all about finding a great deal at Dayton. He bowled several nights a week, and seldom missed a NASCAR race.

When it came time to mount the antennas at Ft. Branch, Dan came to the rescue again. He made a set of custom brackets that hold the antennas in place on the tower yet today. He was one of the net controls of the wide area net several years ago. Whatever needed to be done, Dan did it.

Debby has asked that I find someone who would like to have his antennas and tower. He had a 2m beam, a ground plane, and a rotor on about 20 feet of tower. If you can take it down, you can have it. Please contact me if you're interested, and I'll pass your information on to Debby.

Please join us in taking a moment to honor the life of Dan Roush.

obituary adapted from Lafayette Journal & Courier

Daniel D. Roush, 57, of Newburgh, died Friday, March 28, 2008, at his residence.

He was born Oct. 12, 1950, in Chicago, to the late Lloyd Roush and Eileen Hammond.

Mr. Roush worked for CSX Railroad for 38 1/2 years. He was an Army veteran and enjoyed bowling and NASCAR.

Surviving are his wife, Debra K. Roush; three children, Shannon Jennings (husband: Scott) of Monticello, Billy Roush (wife: Tina) of Lafayette and Becky Roush (fiancé: Justin) of Newburgh; a sister, Gloria Jackson (husband: Richard) of Evansville; and a brother, Butch Roush (wife: Diane) of Lafayette.

Also surviving are grandchildren, Alyssa Archer, Skylar Swygman, Riley Jennings and Billy Jr., Daniel II, Chris and Jordan Roush, and great-grandchildren, Cole and Loretta Roush and Kaylee Helms.

 

Sent out on 2/4/2008...

A couple of changes and updates from the last newsletter.

1.  I accidentally left off the new Hopkins Co. KY hamfest in Madisonville on May 3.  Admission is free.  http://www.wb4jro.net
Hopkins Co. EMA (130 N. Franklin)
Talk in on 146.61-

2.  Terre Haute has a change of location and contact for VE testing:
Terre Haute, IN - 1st Sunday of EVEN numbered months at 1pm at the Glascol Building located at 7th and Idaho St on the NE corner. Contact Ray Andrews, K9DUR at [email protected] (ARRL-VEC)

These have been updated on the web site as well.  Please watch the web site for further updates.

3.  We have tentatively set a date of Monday, February 18 to put 145.15 back on from Ft. Branch.
(Speaking of Ft. Branch, apparently there was some damage to the tower from the storms last week.  The stobe light and the 900 MHz antenna which provides wireless internet service took some damage, as well as the old building.  Everything else appears to be ok though.)

4.  I just received some information about a Technician class sponsored by TARS.  Please pass this along to anyone interested.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

 

Sent out on 1/28/08...

Hello, everyone!  Here is the latest news from EARS:

* 145.150 to go back on the air soon!
* Evansville Hamfest another success
* Skywarn information
* Linking  to other systems
* Radar on website
* Evansville weather spotter training
* Dugger hamfest
* Hamfest calendar
* VE testing calendar
* Personal updates

145.150 to go back on the air soon!

Final plans were made last week to put 145.150 back on at Ft. Branch.  We were finally able to convince the new tower owners of our need, and they have completed the changes and installed the new building at the site.  We'll need some help soon hauling the equipment out to the site.  We will fortunately be able to just hook up to the previous antennas, so no tower climbing will be required!  So look for the repeater back on the air in the next few weeks, along with the Monday night net and Newsline.


Evansville Hamfest report

The hamfest was another success!   All 100+ tables sold out a few days in advance.  Paid attendance and ticketed volunteers totalled 408, which was down from 444 last year.  So we only had 36 fewer people this year, despite an admission price increase of $1 and cancelling the bulk mailing.  We only had 2 complaints about the lack of bulk mailing flyers to individuals.  Instead, we beefed up emails to area clubs and sent more flyers to other hamfests.  The expense of bulk mail was tremendous, and our experiment this year proved that we can operate without it without adversely affecting the event.  In fact, our tables sold out even faster!  So please continue to talk up the hamfest, and we'll continue the alternative methods of promoting it.  In fact, we plan on expanding the flyers to other hamfests this coming year.

We did have quite a shortage on help this year.  We need people from the area ham community to help out on the day of the hamfest.  Next year, please consider helping for an hour during the hamfest.  We had a long list of people who normally would be there, but couldn't because of illnesses, work schedules, and other things that couldn't be helped.  The chances of all of these happening at the same time are small, but somehow we managed to make it happen!  Next year, we'd like to have enough help on hand to allow for some absences.  Keep November 29, 2008 open on your calendar if you can.  Thanks.
 

Skywarn information


The link to Central Indiana Skywarn is still installed.  We're waiting on the Terre Haute group to resolve some issues with their link and repeater (444.35) which will finish the link.  In the mean time, we can relay through this link.  And as before, we can listen to the 147.435 Freetown link from the state net.  We just can't transmit back to them through this link.


More linking

We're also working on a replacement RF link to the W9WIN system to be used during state RACES nets and other emergencies.  This link will be available when the Skywarn link is not in use.  More to come on this link.

We're still hoping to return EchoLink and/or IRLP down the road.


EARS Radar: a valuable resource


During the severe weather last night, the EARS radar was very valuable in tracking the storm, identifying possible areas of rotation, and keeping up with watches and warnings during local weather nets.  If you haven't checked out all the different radar information available on our web site, check it out at http://w9ear.org/radar.htm


Evansville weather spotter training

NWS spotter training will be held on Saturday, February 16 from 9 am to noon, and again on Wednesday, February 20 from 6 to 9 pm.  Please see the attached flyer for more information!


Dugger hamfest

The Dugger hamfest will be held on Saturday, March 1 at the Sullivan fairgrounds.  Please see the attached flyer for more information!


Hamfest calendar

March 1 - Cave City, KY; Dugger, IN
March 8 - Terre Haute, IN
March 29 - Columbus, IN
July 12 - Indianapolis, IN
May 16, 17, 18 - Dayton Hamvention
August 17 - Lafayette, IN
September 6 - Louisville, KY
September 20 & 21 - Peoria, IL
November 15 & 16 - Fort Wayne, IN
November 29 - Evansville, IN

For more information and links to their web sites, visit http://w9ear.org/events.htm


VE testing

Bloomington, IN -  Testing is held on the first Saturday of each month at the First United Church on East Third Street in Bloomington, just west of Eastland Plaza (by Circuit City and IU Credit Union). Testing always begins at 12:00 noon. Please arrive 20-30 minutes early, so that we can begin processing paperwork. For more information, contact John Maassen K9FK at [email protected] or 812-336-2311. (ARRL-VEC)

Evansville, IN -  Saturday, January 26, March 29, April 26, May 31, June 28, July 26, August 30, September 27, October 25, and December 27, 2008 at 9 am. Evansville/Vanderburgh Red Cross, Lloyd Expwy. at Stockwell Rd by Tri-State ARS. Pre-registration is not required. ARRL-VEC. Contact Terry AA9MM [email protected] or evenings 812-401-9632. (ARRL-VEC)

Evansville, IN -  Evansville Hamfest Saturday, November 29, 2008, 11 am. For more information or reservations, contact Bob McIntosh AA9VW at [email protected] or 812-963-3923. (ARRL-VEC)

Franklin, IN - Johnson Co. EMA office basement at 9:30 a.m. following club meetings. Sponsored by Mid State ARC. Contact: David Wendt (317) 881-6531 Email: [email protected](DOT)org (ARRL-VEC)

Greenfield, IN -  Greenfield Central High School, 810 N. Broadway, Technology Ed. Room 316. Contact Larry Card, (317) 891-7762 [email protected] (ARRL-VEC)

Madisonville, KY -  DES Building (130 N. Franklin St.) on the 2nd Saturday of each EVEN Numbered Month
ARRL Amateur Radio and W5YI (NRE) Commercial Testing; Walk In's welcome; Testing starts at 3:00 PM Sponsor: Hopkins Co. Amateur Radio Assn.   Contact: Larry Cunningham KY4LC, 270/825-8593
[email protected]

Paris, IL -  2nd Saturday of ODD numbered months, 8:30 am, at Burkybile Law Office, 15175 Us Highway 150, Paris, IL

Terre Haute, IN -  1st Sunday of EVEN numbered months at 1pm at the Terre Haute Red Cross on Hwy 41 North. Contact Steve Shorter, NT9T at [email protected] (ARRL-VEC)

Vincennes, IN - Vincennes University Technology Building. For more information, contact Phil Smith AA9ZZ at 812-888-5830 (work) or [email protected] (ARRL-VEC)

For more information and links to their web sites, visit http://w9ear.org/events.htm


Personal updates

Dan KB9KCF has been battling kidney cancer.  Please keep him in your prayers.

Eric N9KDB and Amy KC9HKK's daughter Lydia turned 2 in November.

Barry KE4OXZ and family moved to Panama City, Florida in July.

Pete W9DRB and Pam WB9EAF have been working hard at the LST memorial in Evansville.  http://www.lstmemorial.org/

Chance K9RDT is enrolled at Vincennes University, studying Homeland security and emergency management. 

And of course, there's more that I'm sure I missed.

73 for now!
de WB9VPG

Sent out on 11/20/2007...

PLEASE PASS THE WORD!!!!!

Just a reminder of the EARS Evansville Hamfest presented by the Ham Station THIS SATURDAY.  All the details are at http://w9ear.org/hamfest.htm

The last of the tables (just short of 100) sold out this evening.  We are currently taking names for a waiting list.  All tables unclaimed by 8 am will be resold according to the order of the waiting list.

We are in desperate need of volunteers to watch doors on Saturday.  If you volunteer for just an hour, we will provide you with a complimentary admission ticket.  Please email me when you would like to work.  The whole day is open at the moment.  We need door watchers from 6:30 am until noon.  PLEASE HELP!!!

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 9/23/07...

Eric N9KDB went to Paxton Monday to check on the 146.925 transmitter.  The hard line had split in two.  He and I went back tonight, and temporarily spliced the line.  The amp apprently blew a tube.  So, the 146.925 transmitter is back on the air, but only at 10 watts for the time being.

Hamfest time is fast approaching.  We need people to volunteer to help for 1-2 hours watching doors on Saturday (Nov. 24).  Volunteers will be rewarded with a free ticket to the hamfest.  Please email me which hour you can work.  We need volunteers for 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 pm.

Also, we will NOT be mailing flyers to everyone in the area this year.  The investment of the mailing just isn't showing a return.  We need your help in promoting the hamfest.  Be sure to talk it up on area nets and email.  We have a banner ad that will go on web sites if you know of a club or individual who would be willing to add it.  We also will be mailing flyers to area clubs and returning vendors.  If you belong to a club that would be willing to pass out flyers at meetings, or include one (or the basic information) in a newsletter, please let me know and I'll mail the flyers and/or email the necessary files. 

I'm attaching the PDF version of the flyer.  Please pass it on!

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 8/9/07...

It appears we are only losing the amplifier on 146.925 during periods of extreme heat.  The air conditioning at the site just hasn't been able to keep up the past couple of weeks.  So the amp should be working fine at cooler times.

My fiancee (KY4TLF)'s mother died Friday.  I've been in KY helping out for the last week, so I haven't done any repeater work this week.  It sounds like though that there isn't much we can do about the amp at Paxton other than do what we are already doing -- hope it cools off!!!

The Specncer/Bloomington hamfest is coming up soon (last Saturday in August).  Louisville (Sept. 8) and Lexington (August 12) are also coming up.  http://www.critterbob.net/glha/ http://barcradio.org/hamfest

Stay cool,
Neil WB9VPG

Sunday, August 12, 2007 -- Announcing the 2007 Central Kentucky ARRL Hamfest,
8:00 AM-4:00 PM at American Legion Post #34, 1979 Alton Station Road (U..S. 62),
Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Sponsored by Bluegrass Amateur Radio Society, Lexington,
Kentucky.

     Directions: From I-64 Exit 53; follow U.S. 127 south to U.S. 62; turn left and go
about 1/4 mile then turn right into the fairgrounds driveway.
     From Bluegrass Parkway take Exit 59; follow U.S. 127 north to U.S. 62; turn
right and go about 1/4 mile then turn right into the fairgrounds driveway.

     Featuring VE sessions, ARRL Forums, technical forums, commercial vendors,
indoor flea market, and refreshments inside. Also large outdoor tailgating flea market, and
MARS special-event station.
.
    Hamfest site is handicapped accessible. Free parking! Free overnight self-
contained camping (no dump facilities nor electricity).

     Ticket admission $5.00 in advance, $6.00 at gate. Tailgating $5.00 per vehicle
with admission for each attendee. Vendor setup Saturday 6:00 PM-8:00 PM and
Sunday 6:00-8:00 AM. Tables inside building are $15.00 if payment received
before August 7; $25.00 afterwards. Reservations confirmed by e-Mail or snail
mail upon receipt of payment. Talk in 145.390 (-) and 146.760 (-).

For VE sessions contact:
    Fernie Williams, KE4MAI at [email protected] or evenings at (859) 245-2140.

For hamfest information and reservations contact:
    Jeanie Dalton-Pugh, KB8QLC, at [email protected] or (859) 619- 8164(evenings);
    Bill DeVore, N4DIT at [email protected] or (859) 273-8345 and leave a message,
       or SASE to Bill DeVore, N4DIT, 112 Brigadoon Pkwy, Lexington, KY 40517-1305.

Further information at http://www.BluegrassARS.org/

Sent out on 7/31/07...

Repeater update

Yesterday, 145.150 was turned off.  We tried several ways of getting a link signal from Vincennes and Mt. Vernon, and it just didn't work from the temporary site.  Thanks to Jim and Jerry for all their help.  The good news is that the adjustments to the amplifier worked great.  So it looks like we finally have the amplifier problem solved.  But, since we can't pick up the link from the receive site nor the rest of the network, there was no reason to keep the repeater on.  So, it has been turned off until we move to the new site.  Again, we anticipate that to be available in September, but nothing has been finalized with the new owner.

Sometime over the weekend, the amplifier on 146.925 died.  We knew that the power wasn't quite up as high as it was in years past, so we suspected that the tube may have been weak even though it was very stable.  We're not sure yet if the tube gave out, of if there is a different problem.  We'll try to determine that soon.

Sent out on 7/19/07...

Just a note where we are on the linking....

First, we will NOT be linked in for the Indiana statewide RACES test this Saturday (9 am Eastern).  We had planned on doing that, but some changes have been made on the W9WIN network linking method that will prohibit us joining in this time.  We are working on a plan to once again make that link available during emergencies and drills in the near future.  If you are in RACES, please check into your local net on Saturday morning.  (A representative from each local net will check in on the W9WIN network (or HF, or other methods) to pass the local information up to the state... which was the reason for the link.)

Second, the 444.35 link is working out pretty well. After quite a bit of testing, we have found that we're getting to Terre Haute just fine.  We are, however, losing the signal back from Terre Haute for a few hours in the afternoon when band conditions are at their worst.  Most of the day, however, it works just great.  The Terre Haute group is looking at increasing their transmitter power soon, which will rectify that problem.  The other issue with the Skywarn link is that the link from Terre Haute to Indianapolis is not working, and is going to require some tower work.   Once that work is completed in Terre Haute, everything should be linked in and working quite well.

In the mean time, WA9DRO and others have agreed to relay information to Indianapolis while their link is down.  In the event of severe weather, local weather nets may send information to Indy by accessing the 444.35 link on the Vincennes EARS repeater (146.925 and 443.925) and asking for a relay.  Skywarn and EMA personnel in Knox and Daviess counties have already been provided the codes to access the link.  Other counties in the Central Indiana Skywarn region are welcomed and encouraged to join in. Codes will be provided to any Skywarn net control, as well as EARS control operators.

NOTE:  The Skywarn link is for local nets to forward information to Indianapolis.  It is NOT for individual weather spotters.  Spotters should check into their local net to report severe weather.

NOTE:  The Evansville metro area is NOT covered by the Indianapolis National Weather Service office, but rather the Paducah office.  Therefore, this link should not be used for passing information from Evansville area nets to National Weather Service unless no other means are possible.  Because of this, the Evansville 145.15 repeater will NOT be linked to Vincennes while Central Indiana Skywarn nets are in progress.

And finally, we'll be looking at the 145.15 in the next couple of weeks to resolve some linking issues.  We are expecting to return the repeater to the Ft. Branch site around September, although nothing is yet certain.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 6/27/07...

Thanks to the help of Del, WB9UKG (better known as DAD!) finding the burnt trace that I totally missed on the port combiner board, the 444.35 link to Terre Haute is now working!  We left the link running late last night, and will continue to run until around 2 or 3 pm Eastern today.  I'll turn it on again some next week as well.  Everything seems to be working great, but we need to test it during varying band conditions, weather, and finish up some minor programming issues.  Feel free to try it out while it's running.

This link will provide access to Central Indiana SKYWARN during severe weather outbreaks.  It will not be active 24/7.

The complete link to the Skywarn net is not yet available, because of some antenna problems with the link from 444.35 to 146.97.  The Terre Haute group hopes to resolve those issues soon with their link.

However, in the mean time, we will work out the bugs and fine tune the link from EARS to 444.35.

The latest word on moving the 145.15 back to Ft. Branch is possibly September.  The new owners are surveying the property, selling off the buildings, and putting up a small building under the tower for the radio equipment.  Once that is complete, then we will get to the final stages of talks to get back on the tower.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 6/19/07...

A lot of people on the VHF and UHF bands have been talking about watching the International Space Station and the space shuttle this past week.  There was a good viewing tonight of both of them, appearing to chase each other.  We should have another excellent viewing, possibly the best, tomorrow (Wednesday) night.  Look to the WNW at 10:54 pm Eastern time.  It will be fairly high overhead (about 67 degrees), away from trees and city lights that have caused minor blockages earlier this week.  They will progress and eventually disappear SSE.  So basically look to the north and up (around the moon or above), and you should see two "stars" passing in an arc from left to right.  You do NOT need binoculars or a telescope (unless you want to see detail!).  This will vary a minute or two and a degree or two depending on where you are.  These times and angles are based on Bloomington, but if you're anywhere in the midwest, it shouldn't vary by much.  For exact information, see http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/index.html .  The pass tomorrow will take about 2 minutes.

I will be coaching the GOTA station at Field Day this year again under the high school club call, K9SOU with the combined Bloomington ham clubs (BARC, IUARC, and BHSSARC).  The Bloomington ARC recently changed the callsign from W9INL to K9DIY in memory of Millard Qualls.  When I'm not coaching, I will be operating under K9DIY.  I hope to hear you all this weekend on HF with your local club.

I worked on the new link today at Vincennes, and it looks like the signal is very good.  I hope to finish it within the next week.

73,
Neil WB9VPG
EARS

Sent out on 4/23/07...

Hi everyone, just a note about what's happening.  We have a couple of work days scheduled for repeater work in the next month.  We will be making some updates of programming, testing out a new link, and moving equipment for the 145.15.  We are still waiting to hear about our permanent site for the 145.15.  It has been a "hurry up and wait" scenario, and has taken a lot longer than expected.  We most likely will be taking 145.15 off the air this weekend until we can do some equipment shuffling and locate another temporary site, unless of course we receive approval on returning to the Ft. Branch site right away.  Hopefully we won't be off the air for long.  As always, if you know of a good antenna site that might work, please let me know.

Also, we have a new feature on the web site if you haven't noticed it already.  On the radar page, we now have time lapse loops available.  Check it out!  Thanks to Eric N9KDB for setting this up.  We've also added a legend for the watches and warnings.

The VE information has been updated.  There will be a test in Olney, IL this weekend.  For details, stop by w9ear.org/events.htm

If you plan on attending Dayton, listen to 145.15 simplex with tone 107.2.  Backup: 146.925 (same tone)

Also, if you haven't already heard, the Hoosier 200 relay, for which we helped provide coverage, has changed to a 100 mile overnighter in the Bloomington area.  So we will not be linking up to the W9WIN system this summer for the race as we have in the past.  The entire course will now be in range of the Bloomington repeaters.  Thanks again to all those who helped on this in the past.  This proved to be a tremendous learning experience, and could be very beneficial in the event of a disaster situation.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 11/28/06...

Thanks to everyone for supporting the Evansville hamfest this year.  We couldn't have done it without you.

We had hams come from at least 8 states represented.  A total of 444 tickets were distributed, down only 21 from last year.  All the tables sold out the day before the hamfest for the 2nd year in a row.  This makes 12 out of 14 years that all the tables have sold.  We did turn a slight profit, which should cover the equipment insurance bill coming up in the spring.

The amateur community gained 5 new hams as a result of the VE session.  Seven upgraded, for a 100% upgrade rate!  Thanks again to AA9VW, WB9ONU, WB9PZB, WB9KQF (and anyone else I may have missed!) for taking care of the testing again this year.

The Old Post ARS did another fabulous job with the concessions.  Our tremendous thanks to them for providing this important service.  I know I'll leave someone out, but I know several helped including KA9LDD, NO9N, W9DP, K9ZKX, N9TQV, N9QEI, KB9CL, KC9PIE, KB9PKO, K9EZL, and W9PDQ.

Thanks for Dan KB9KCF and his XYL Debby for another great job with the signs, tables, and the tickets.  They have this down to a science, and their help is greatly appreciated.  Dean KF9DL, Pam WB9EAF & Casey, Pete W9DRB, Carlton KC9GIF, Keith KB9WAC, and others helped watch doors.  This has to be the more boring job, but one where we just keep needing more people.  This was once again our weak point this year.  Please spread the word that we need more door watchers next year!  KY4TLF did such a great job with the kitchen on Friday night for the vendors reception, the prize giveaways every half hour, addressing the nearly 4000 promotional flyers, the 200 newsletters, and handled the reigns while I was off running around fixing the PA system, making announcements, and dealing with all sorts of little problems.  I couldn't have done it without her.  Jim WB9PZB, Tom KA9NOO, and Jerry WB9ONU really came through in the clutch to come up with two sites to get the repeater back on the air temporarily in time for the hamfest.  They really saved the day.

A big thanks to our vendors and prize donors who created quite an array of items.  I think this is one of our strong points.  We continue to have several vendors with a variety of items, but manage to keep a large majority of it ham related equipment.  I think the quality of the shopping has to be one of the best around.  Of course, a huge thank you to Dan N9APA and his family from the Ham Station for making the hamfest possible.

And, a big thank you to those who just showed up!  If we don't have good attendance, the hamfest can not continue.  Your presence was a big help.  If you couldn't make it this year, we hope you can in the future.

We had a few problems that we'll try to improve upon for next year.  Most of these problems involved controlling the crowd, either before the hamfest during the breakfast time or people coming in without a ticket.  But these are not huge problems to have, and we'll keep striving to make it better.  Of course, your suggestions are always welcome.

One more thing... on the repeater front, everyone involved decided to leave the equipment on and running so the 145.15 can stay on the air in the temporary configuration.  We will be working on getting the "real" equipment installed soon, and we're already working on adding another site to the mix.  Hopefully in the spring, the new tower will be finished and we can finish the relocation.

Again, thanks to everyone. 73.

Sent out on 10/9/06...

Greeting everyone,

Here is an update on the 145.15 site.  We were not the high bidder on the site, and therefore we no longer have access to the Ft. Branch site where the transmitter and one of the receivers was located.  145.15 is off the air and in storage at this time.  We will be moving to a new broadcast tower once it is built.  In the mean time, we are looking for a temporary location to house the transmitter.  If you know of a site in the Evansville area where we could transmit on 2m and receive a 440 signal, for a few months, please let me know.  We need to receive the 440 links from Vincennes and the remote receiver signal from Mt. Vernon.  It shouldn't be too hard to receive these two link signals.  We'd like to have everything back up and running in plenty of time for the hamfest.

Speaking of the hamfest, plans are coming along nicely.  We should have the flyers from the new printer any day now.  Table reservations have already been pouring in.  I'll send something out closer to time looking for volunteers.

The net will continue on 146.925 and 443.925 on Monday evenings, 8:30 pm Central/9:30 pm Eastern.  Hope you can make it.

We're looking into a new experimental internet linking project for the repeater system.  Stay tuned.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 9/4/06...

Sorry it's been a while since I've sent anything out.  I've been planning a newsletter, but time constraints have just been overwhelming.  I still hope to send out something more formal soon, but there are a few things that I felt needed to go out right away.

145.15 transmittter site
You may have seen in the newspapers around Evansville this weekend that the Ft. Branch tower is being sold at a sheriff's sale.  We have not had access to the building for a while now, which is why the amplifier still hasn't been fixed.  Based on what we were told, there was a good chance we could keep using the site and have been trying to restore access to the building since May.  I still haven't obtained all the information about the current happenings, but we are making arrangements to move out of the site in the event we can't stay.  There have already been discussions about a new broadcast facility going up soon that we could use.  I'll keep everyone advised as we find out more.  We may need some help getting everything moved out and stored or a temporary location for the transmitter site.  (The main receive site will be unaffected, since it's at the Posey Co. tower.)

Ham Scam
The Indy Ham Radio group on Yahoo just posted this alert concerning a ham ripping a lot of people off with equipment and equipment sales.  You can read about it here:  http://tinyurl.com/pl9lf   Be careful out there!!!

146.925 transmitter
Pete and Carlton worked on the amplifier at Paxton and got it going again, but the tube blew a short time later.  We're back on exciter power only until the tube can be replaced.  This is the same tube that Mel put in nearly 8 years ago, so it's been a good one.  There are some pictures on the web site that show what it did to the poor fuse holder!

W9WIN/R link
We put a UHF backbone link to the W9WIN/R system this summer for Hoosier 200, and for use in event of an emergency.  We're trying to work out a few bugs, but the equipment seems to be working great.  We'll be testing that more as time permits.  We're also working on a couple of other linking projects for the future.  More to come.

W9DRB wins Technical Excellence Award
Pete Crasher W9DRB won the Indiana Radio Club Council (IRCC) Technical Excellence Award for 2006.  He received the award at the Indianapolis hamfest this summer for his continued excellent RF work on the EARS system, and his work on the Rockport repeater and some of the WVARA (Terre Haute) repeaters in the past.   Congratulations!  For more information, check out the feature on the front page of the web site.

Live RADAR
Eric N9KDB has been running live radar images up to the web site.  Several groups in the area have been making good use of them.  If you haven't seen it yet, check out the "Live Radar" link near the top of the page on the web site.  New images are uploaded every 5 minutes.

Mt. Vernon, IL (not Mt. Vernon, IN!) site shelved
Doug KA9JJS (and several other hams in the area including his dad (my uncle) Ed AA9EE) took some serious storm damage in the Mt. Vernon, IL area a few weeks ago.  The storm blew over both Doug and Ed's towers.  We've been experimenting with the 147.18 pair in the past, but since the tower is now down and with all the work going on just to get the personal equipment  back up, we have decided to put this project on the shelf.  If we get the time and space, we may try this project again in the future.

Evansville Hamfest 2006
It's time once again to start working on the hamfest.  Same bat time, same bat channel.  More information to come.

Monday Night Wide Area Net
Activity has been picking up slightly the last couple of weeks slightly.  We still need a lot more check-ins.  We're still hoping to develop this into a true wide-area net where people from all over the tri-state, regardless of club or group affiliation, come together to get to know each other.   And, you can hear the latest ham radio news each week

Barry KE4OXZ on the move
I just received an email that Barry (formerly of Newburgh) has moved from Elizabethtown, KY to Panama City Beach, FL.   I guess we'll have to work in that internet link some more :)

73 for now!!
Neil WB9VPG


Sent out on 9/4/05...

The 146.925 transmitter went back on the air Saturday afternoon after being off for about a month.  Both the backup and the main transmitters were sent to the manufacturer service centers for re-alignment.  The main transmitter has been returned, and Kenwood has verified that it is within or exceeds specifications.  Icom has not returned the backup yet, as they have not been able to find anything wrong and want more time to make sure.

Don't forget the net, Monday nights at 8:30.  We had to unexpectedly cancel a couple in the past few weeks due to 146.925 being off the air.

Sent out on 7/31/05...

The Icom transmitter put in a couple of weeks ago on 146.925 has been cutting out, and it was removed from service today along with the Kenwood transmitter we had been using for the last couple of years until that time.  Both are being sent back to be serviced again, so the big amp will be off for a week or two.  We do have a temporary low profile transmitter running in the Vincennes area until the repairs are completed.

Sent out on 7/2/05...

It is with great pleasure that I announce the Posey Co. (Marrs Twp, Mt. Vernon IN) receiver is back online at full strength.  We had full quieting signals from downtown Evansville with HT's on extra low power last evening.  This was the last piece in the restoration process of the EARS network.  While there is always more to do (like a couple of adjustments to the voter!), it is with a great sigh of relief that I'm calling it essentially DONE.

The new courtesy tones on the 145.15 side tell you which receive site you primarily used for your last transmission.  "M" is for Marrs Twp (Mt. Vernon IN), and "F" is for Ft. Branch.  You may also hear "P" for Petersburg at some point in the future.  For the next couple of weeks, you may also hear "C" for Chandler, as we are borrowing one of the 146.79 receive sites while it's down for Hoosier 200 communications. 

One glitch that I'm still working on is... if you get into both Ft. Branch and Mt. Vernon at the same time, it will say "M" just about every time.  A way you can test Ft. Branch is to turn the 107.2 tone off.  It doesn't require tone, while Mt. Vernon does.

As always, signal reports are welcome!  Please enjoy the system, use it, and let me know of any problems (or lack of problems!!!).  Check in the net Mondays at 8:30 pm when you can.

One last reminder... the entire network will be tied up for Hoosier 200 July 16 and 17.  We will also be linked to the W9WIN network.  Please be courteous to our net controls during this time and ask them for permission if you need to use the repeater during those two days.  If you can help out that weekend, please email me and I will put you in contact with the person in charge in your area.

A huge thank you to Barry KC9AXG and his brother John KC9HOS for doing the tower work yesterday (in record time!).  Barry has done a great job of taking care of most of our climbing work in the past 2-3 years, along with Jason N9RTB.

Also another huge thank you to Pete W9DRB for his continual work on the equipment.  In case you haven't heard, Pete has been nominated for the Indiana Radio Club Council Technical Excellence Award, which will be presented next week at the Indianapolis hamfest at 11 am.  Pete's expertise has helped many, many hams over the years.  The EARS system is just one of the most recent to benefit from his work.  Pete spent many years working on the WVARA repeater(s) in Terre Haute as well as his own 443.600 in Sullivan, and now in Chrisney.  Before retiring, Pete worked in the radio shop for American Electric Power.

Thanks to Carl KC9GIF for some great pictures of most of the repeater sites.  You will see more of these on the web site soon.

And, thanks to everyone else who has helped in any way to make all this happen.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 6/16/05...

Just a reminder that the Hoosier 200 relay race from Evansville to Bloomington will be coming up July 16 and 17. There will be two test nets, and the first one is THIS SATURDAY at 7 pm. If you are near the race route (Evansville to Jasper to French Lick to Bloomington), please check in on these nets even if you are not planning on being involved on July 16 and 17. Ideally, we would like you to be mobile at one of the check points for the race. (www.hoosier200.com).

We would ask that traffic on the repeater network be clear for this net and the net NEXT SATURDAY (FIELD DAY) also at 7 pm. I am guessing the net would not take more than one hour. Following these nets, there will also be an HF net. There will be an additional HF net at 10 pm next Saturday as well. The W9WIN repeater network will also be linked to the EARS network for the two VHF/UHF nets and the 36 hours of the race itself in July. Tone will be required on nearly all the receivers during the nets and the event, so please make sure you have 107.2 plugged in.

If you would like to help with this event, please contact one of these area coordinators: Evansville area - Brian Esche WB9QVR (besche at sigecom.net) or Jerry McIntosh WB9ONU (wb9onu at ameritech(dot)net); Bedford area - Mike Wright KF9NP (kf9np at juno(dot)com) or Rick N9UMJ (n9umj at yahoo(dot)com); Bloomington area - Carl Zager KB9RVB (kb9rvb at arrl(dot)net) or myself (wb9vpg at w9ear(dot)org). We can still use several more volunteers. All you need is a mobile rig of some time, although dual band would provide more options. There are a limited number of sites (Evansville area and Bloomington area) that could use just an HT.

On the repeater repair front.... Last week Eric N9KDB and I tried a different transmitter on 146.925, and added tone to the Farmersburg receiver output that prevented it from being used when the tone is required for the entire Vincennes repeater system.

Yesterday, I went to Vincennes and fixed the temperature sensor, programmed the weather radio to mute the Evansville weather radio when a weather alert occurs (in case they both come out at the same time), and eliminated the broadcast audio leaking in.

I also went to Ft. Branch and changed out the Vincennes link receiver, made audio adjustments across the board, started (yet again) on getting the controller to tell which receiver is being voted into, and adjusted remote receivers. The Mt. Vernon receiver is now back online thanks to James KC9EMT as of yesterday afternoon. There is possibly a problem at Ft. Branch, though, with the COR that I will look at on Saturday. Also, TARS has placed their Chandler (Warrick Co.) receiver on the EARS system temporarily until Hoosier 200 is complete. We are also working on bringing Petersburg back and possibly adding a downtown Evansville receiver. So at present, we have 3 receivers on 145.15.

On Saturday, I'll be looking at the voter some more, the receiver for the Mt. Vernon receiver, and making more adjustments on 146.925. Your patience is greatly appreciated during all these tests and adjustments, but it is finally paying off. The system is very close to back where it once was, and for that we are truly grateful. Thanks to all of those who have donated their time, effort, and finances to make this happen in time for Hoosier 200.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

 

Sent out on 5/30/05...

All the antenna work at Ft. Branch is complete! The transmitter and the Ft. Branch receiver are at 100%. More remote receivers should be showing up on frequency very soon.

Signal reports on 145.15 and 443.925 would be greatly appreciated. Both seem to be working great. Be sure to try them out.

Sent out on 5/29/05...

145.150 was down part of the day Saturday (5/28) for the tower work that was originally planned for 5/14 but cancelled due to rain.

The new receive antenna and feed line is up. Hopefully tomorrow (5/30) we can install the new hardline on the transmit antenna.

At this time, we are actually backwards on the antennas. The transmitter is on the lower receive antenna, and the receiver is on the higher but waterlogged antenna designated for the transmitter.

Also, the duplexer cables were replaced last night on 443.925. The transmitter was returned to full power, and the receive coverage should be more consistent as will the Farmersburg receive site. The increased de-sensing was eliminated, and the reflected power went down.

The test nets for Hoosier 200 will be held at 7 pm on Saturday, June 18 and Saturday, June 25 (Field Day). The nets will be on the EARS and W9WIN repeater networks. If you are anywhere along the route (Evansville to Jasper to Bloomington), please check in! Following the nets, there will also be a test on HF and APRS. There will be an additional net for HF ONLY at 10 pm, Saturday June 25. For the route, take a look at www.hoosier200.com

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 5/13/05...

Just a notice to EARS repeater network users... the 146.925 transmitter will be down most of the day Saturday 5/14/05, and should be back on late in the evening. 443.925 and the 2m receivers will all still function as normal.

Also, 145.15 will be off and on Saturday as we do some tower work. Hopefully by evening the transmit antenna will be up on the tower, and some (or all) of the feed line problems will be resolved. I'll send out a progress report later this weekend.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 5/2/05...

In this issue:
Wide Area Net to resume this evening
More repair work completed
Hoosier 200 gearing up
Donations still needed

WIDE AREA NET TO RESUME THIS EVENING
After a long delay due to technical problems, the Wide Area Net and Newsline will resume tonight at it's usual time slot, 8:30 p.m. Central time on Monday evening. Everyone is invited to join in. The purpose of the net is to determine the coverage area of the repeater system, provide Amateur Radio Newsline, and to get everyone together. I hope you can check in. We also have a couple of other people that will be sharing net control responsibilities in the near future.

MORE REPAIR WORK COMPLETED
Pete W9DRB, Carlton KC9GIF, and I spent Saturday working on the duplexers on the 443.925 repeater. They are working much better, but we still have some problems. The Farmersburg receiver is working much better, and the Evansville (Ft. Branch) link was readjusted so it sounds better. More work is planned soon. Stay tuned.

HOOSIER 200 GEARING UP
Hoosier 200 plans are underway. There will be a meeting this Saturday for the regional coordinators. Please consider helping with this. We need people from Evansville to Bloomington by way of the Jasper area. We especially need people in Spencer, Dubois, and Orange counties. The EARS network will be linked to the W9WIN network for the duration of the event (July 16-17).

DONATIONS STILL NEEDED
This is the one I always hate to include, but it's needed. Several of you donate your time and talents, and we couldn't do it without you. If you haven't been able to donate your time and talent, please consider doing so or making a financial contribution. Donations to EARS are tax deductible. The hamfest makes about enough to pay the insurance bill, but all the equipment and repair costs come from donations. We have already depleted the entire treasury, and have a lot more to buy in order to get back to 100% strength. You can mail your donation, or PayPal it to [email protected] See w9ear.org/support.htm for complete details.

Thanks and 73!
Neil WB9VPG

 

Sent out on 3/17/2005...

Yesterday, Pete W9DRB and I did more work on the EARS system.

145.15 - We were not able to look at the water in the feed line problem, but we did put up a new antenna temporarily on the rooftop for the transmitter. The amp is now running at full power with the lower SWR. So while this antenna is not very high, it is working better than the old one on top of the tower. Until we get the feed lines taken care of and get the new antenna up (it's eventual purpose is to be the new receive antenna), we connected the top antenna with the high SWR to the receiver. It is working very well on receive. Pete changed out the Vincennes link receiver and power supply, which was the source of a slight hum. The hum is now gone. We are also going to add the remote receiver at Petersburg back in later this year. We are delaying the activation of the autopatch because of the cost. We need to get the feed line/antenna situation eliminated first.

443.925 - I put the new temperature sensor in so it's not 440 degrees anymore :) Also, you will notice a courtesy tone of "R" in morse code when the link radio is on receive only mode. We still do not have a 2-way link, it is always receive only. Some people have been confused and tried to talk to people on other repeaters when it's receive only. We hope the courtesy tone will help.

146.925 - I checked the width of the transmitter output at the site. It still looks fine. If you are noticing anything on 146.935 or higher, please send me some detailed information as to location, antenna, and equipment used. I've tried several radio/antenna/location combinations, as have several others, and have never been able to hear anything out of the transmitter on 146.935 or higher. Apparently this is an isolated problem, so any additional information would be very helpful. We'll keep working on this until all options are exhausted.

We need current email addresses!!! If you have a current email address for any of these people, please have them send me the new address: KC9AXG, KB9INQ, KB9WNR, KA9WJS, N9WCC, N9QEI, KE9ZV, N9YSQ, KB9VID

Below is information on a bus available to Dayton. The Terre Haute group has also done one for several years, and schedule 2 stops near Indy. If you want to go for a day, but don't want to fight the crowds and the driving, this is an excellent way to go.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

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From: "Jack Parker"
Subject: DAYTON HAMFEST
Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2005 17:23:38 -0500

GET ON BOARD CHEAP!!!
I'm passing this fun, money saving opportunity on to everyone who might be interested.

The Indianapolis Radio Club is planning to charter a bus to Dayton on Saturday May 21st. The bus will leave Southern Plaza at 6AM and make a stop at US 40 and Franklin Rd at 6:30, stop for breakfast on the way and return to Indy around 7PM. Go to the IRC website for more info. www.indyradioclub.org If you are interested on going please call Chuck Crist W9IH at 317-787-6674 or he usually monitors 146.67.

There are only 18 seats left and the cut off date is April 1st, so if anyone is interested in saving gas money and riding in commercial, over the road, bus comfort please call Chuck right away. Bus ticket is $15.00.

Many Thanks,
John Wampner K9GZR

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Here is the Terre Haute club's bus info.

Dayton Hamvention Bus: Each year the WVARA sponsors a day trip bus to the Dayton Hamvetion. Cost for the trip is published and announced in advance. The bus usually goes on Saturday of the Hamvention leaving Terre Haute around 4:30 am, Arriving at the Hamvention at 8:00 am. The bus then leaves Dayton at approximately 4:30 pm and returns to Terre Haute around 8:00 pm. The bus is a Turner Coach and makes stops in Greencastle and Plainfield and usually a stop for breakfast and supper accordingly. You must indvidually register for the Hamvention either in advance or at the door. Reservations are accepted upon receipt of your check. Click here for a current reservation form.

 

Sent out on 3/2/2005...

EARS Email news update - March 2, 2005

* More repairs for 145.15
* EARS and W9WIN repeater network team up to co-host communications for the Hoosier 200 Relay
* Wide Area Net to resume soon
* New email service up and running
* Donations needed
* IRCC Technical Excellence Award
* Code sheet error

More repairs for 145.15: Well, if it isn't one thing, it's 5,000. Now that the weather alert is back on, the link receivers are on, the autopatch is ready to go, and the voter is working... the amplifier has been shutting down. Fortuntely, it's not damaged. It is due to the high SWR caused by all the water in the coax. We are hoping to replace it with something over spring Break (March 16????). We also would like to replace the Ft. Branch receive antenna at that time. Stay tuned. The repeater is still running, but the output is very low. If you have any source of some 250-300' runs of hard line we could get, now would be a good time :)

Hoosier 200 Relay: The EARS network and the W9WIN network (www.w9win.net) are teaming (and linking!) up for the Hoosier 200 Relay July 16-17. The Relay is a running race that starts on the waterfront in downtown Evansville, goes northeast through the Jasper area, and then north ending up at Lake Monroe just outside of Bloomington. This is the second year for this event. Last year, they came to us to the hams too late to organize any communications effort, so this is going to be the first try on the communications. Volunteers from various clubs (and individuals) along the route will call in details about the location of the runners, and any emergencies that might arise. If you would like to volunteer, contact your local club or myself. More information about the Hoosier 200 is on their web site at www.hoosier200.com.

Wide Area Net to resume: As soon as my radio comes back from service, we'll start the net back up. I'd say Monday, March 21 would be a good target. Make plans to start checking in again on Monday nights, 8:30 pm Central. I'll send out a note for sure when the net will officially resume.

New email service: Due to a lot of spoofing and spamming, and problems with our old web host provider, we have switched all services to GoDaddy.com. The down side to this is that if you want a w9ear.org email address, you can't just sign up for it on a web page like you used to. This is to keep people from creating fake accounts. If you would like yourcall@ w9ear.org as an email address (or forward to your current email address), just let me know and I'll set up the account for you. For those who had the old service, be sure to get your old email off of the old system soon, as I'll close that account in a few weeks.

Donations: I hate to bring this up, but folks we could use some donations. The hamfest made enough to pay the insurance bill, and that's it. We have new feed lines and an antenna that we need to put in at Ft. Branch, and we'd like to get some more remote receivers going. The 145.15 autopatch is ready to go, but if we turn it on we'll have to pay the phone bill. I'm going to Chicago in a couple of weeks to get some more equipment at a closeout sale. So, we could use some funds to pay for all of this. If you would like to donate online, you can use PayPal. Our email address is [email protected] for PayPal. Or, click on the link at the bottom of the web site. Or, you can mail your donation to the home office here at 2744 Pinehurst Dr, Bloomington IN 47403. Checks should be made payable to EARS. All donations are tax deductible.

Code Sheet error: One of the codes for the 146.925/443.925 voice mailbox failed to mention you have to tell it which message to delete. So, after the delete code you must tell it to delete message 1 by adding a 1 to the end of the code, message 2 by adding a 2 to the end of the code, etc. The latest version of the code sheet contains the correct information. If you would like one, please email me.

IRCC Award: Below is a note from Jack Parker W8ISH concerning the IRCC Technical Excellence Award for 2005.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

From: "Jack Parker" <[email protected]>
Subject: Technical Excellence Award
Date: Wed, 2 Mar 2005 17:25:16 -0500

March 2, 2005

IRCC Technical Excellence Nomination announcement

Spring is just around the corner and it's time for all Indiana amateur radio clubs and organizations to consider one of their own as a nominee for the 2005 IRCC Technical Excellence Award.

Each year the Indiana Radio Club Council selects one Hoosier ham to receive this prestigious award during the Indianapolis Hamfest at Camp Sertoma.

To qualify send a one page description of how this person uses their technical abilities to help their club, community or other amateur radio operators. This award is for the unsung heros that continue to give of their time, talents and technical expertise to make a difference in amateur radio. Please be as detailed as possible when writing the candidates bio.

Deadline for entries is Midnight Friday June 10, 2005.

 

E-mail your entry to: [email protected] or [email protected]

Our committee looks forward to hearing from you.

Jack Parker W8ISH
IRCC Vice-Chairman

The Technical Excellence Award will be presented July 9th at the Indianapolis Hamfest.

Sent out on 8/14/2004...

There has been a lot of work done to the EARS repeater network this week. On Monday and Wednesday, several hours were spent at the Ft. Branch site by Pete WB9DRB. MANY thanks to him for his usual gracious and expert work. While we were not able to complete the repairs, a lot of progress was made.

1) All the link receivers have been retuned.
2) The weather alert bug was fixed.
3) Receiver was freed up for Vincennes
4) Power supplies and receivers were moved around to eliminate most of the hum that was present
5) Audio adjustments were made, including the CTCSS tone which was making the Vincennes link cut out on peaks
6) The power amplifier was sent to Mirage for servicing.

We were not able to get the additional remote receivers online. We have one ready to go in, and now we need to purchase additional receive strips to complete the project.

At the Mt. Vernon IN site, James KC9EMT graciously took a look at the remote receiver there, and has repairs under way. Hopefully we can get this site, which was the main receive site before the move, back on soon. We just need to get the receiver to pick up the signal at Ft. Branch going.

On Friday, Eric N9KDB made a trip down from Indianapolis to work on the 146.925 and 443.925 in Vincennes. We are ecstatic with the results!!! The coverage on 443.925 is absolutely incredible, and the Farmersburg receiver is now getting back into the system with little to no noise.

1) Weather alert radio was replaced, which frees up the link radio that was previously used for the Indy link. So, there are new access codes to hear National Weather Service on 146.925 and 443.925. Enter 381 to listen to the Edwardsport NWS audio, and 380 turns it back off.

2) The link radio was programmed with 146.97, 145.47, and 145.19 in order. When you hit the code to change frequencies on the link radio, these three will repeat in order over and over again until you reach the end of the memory channels. There were 2 remaining at the end. So we put 146.775 in one, and then 162.50, the Georgia (Bedford) NWS station. After the weather, the sequence starts over again. Remember this is LISTEN ONLY. You can try all you want to talk to the other repeaters, but it won't work! We put 146.97 in with the hopes of being able to provide a way for folks in the Vincennes area to hear the Indiana SKYWARN net while changes are being made at Terre Haute. Unfortunately, it only picks up 146.97 under ideal band conditions. But, you're welcome to listen and try it. 281 puts the link radio in receive mode. 280 turns it off. 284 changes the memory channel up one. If this is all too confusing, just ask or pick up a new, revised code sheet for 925.

3) The problem with the 443.925 repeater receiver was finally found. It was a dead PolyPhaser lighting arrestor. Eric re-tuned the duplexers, and was able to get the receive coverage back up to what it is supposed to be!!!!! Not only does this mean that we once again have incredible coverage on 443.925, but it also means we can use the Farmersburg 146.925 remote receiver again!! So give them both a try.

Last night on the way back, Eric was hitting the 443.925 on one watt inside the van from several miles north of Loogootee. (about 40 miles from the repeater site). I'm able to hit it mobile with 35 watts from Bloomington. The Farmersburg receiver was picking us up the entire way home. In spots, I can hit it with an HT inside the house here in Bloomington!

We still have to get amplifiers back on 146.925 and 145.150, but apart from that, the only thing left is to get some remote recievers going in Evansville.

The web site is being updated with this information. We may have 146.925 back up to full power next week. Mike N5CEC is going to schedule a day to climb the tower and switch the antenna back to omnidirectional.

I'll send out more updates as the rest of the repairs happen.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 8/5/2004...

The 443.925 receiver was taken out of service last night (8/4), and will be out for about a week while we are tuning up a replacement receiver. Hopefully the replacement will bring coverage back up and get the Farmersburg receiver back up.

Also next week, we should be able to get more receivers online for the Evansville repeater and will send off the amplifier for further repair.

At Paxton, we're trying to find a tower climber to switch the antenna back over and then we'll try turning the amplifier back on. So, a lot may be happening on the system during the next couple of weeks. Hopefully it will all work like it should soon!

Plans for this year's hamfest are well underway. We'll be mailing out flyers around the end of October, as well as a printed newsletter. If you would like to volunteer to work a shift during the hamfest, please let me know. We will need a few more people this year before 8 am. We are going to have a pre-hamfest breakfast at 7 am, so we will need extra people to make sure no one sneaks into the hamfest floor before 8 am.

OPARS decided at their meeting last night on the following menu:

Breakfast: Biscuits & Gravy starting at 7am until they are gone
Lunch: Ham and Beans, Cornbread, Hot Dogs
Coffee and soft drinks all day

We're hoping that putting the menu out early and on the mailer will help them out, and keep people around at the hamfest longer.

We're also working on a 220/440 repeater to link into the system from Bloomington in the future.

I'll send out more emails as things start to come back up on the air.

Sent out on 11/9/2003...

146.925 is back on using the backup antenna and no amplifier. Thanks to Jason N9RTB for climbing the tower, and KC9AXG Barry for loaning his safety belt. We're still working on ideas on how to take care of the main antenna problem. We're going to run things on the new exciter at 15 watts for the time being to check things out before turning the amplifier back on.

For the first time in a long time, everything is on the air at the same time!!!!

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 11/1/2003...

Thanks again to some great help, the receive antenna for the receive site at Ft. Branch is now in its permanent location, about 100 feet up the tower. I was able to bring up the repeater on 5 watts mobile just outside of Vincennes, and on 50 watts outside of Washington on the way home this evening through 145.15. Also, the Evansville weather alert is back in service. We also have the 440 receive antenna for the links hoisted up the tower. All that is left is to mount it and run the feed line. We'll probably end up waiting until spring for that since we have an antenna to use already.

Next week, Jason has volunteered to go up the Paxton tower and see if we can get 146.925 back on. Stay tuned.

That's probably all the (major) repeater work that will be done before the hamfest. Thanks again for everyone who helped!!!

Please send 145.15 signal reports as you notice them.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

(Since then, KC9CVL has reported carrying on a conversation with a HT near Poseyville on 300 mW, and K9YRX reports getting in from Marshall, IL with 50 watts. WB9PZB reports getting in with an HT from the east side of Evansville, near Green River Rd.)


Sent out on 10/26/2003...

Thanks once again to the hardest working repeater crew in Fort Branch, Indiana, 145.15 is finally back on the air! Barry Shotwell KC9AXG, Pete Crasher WB9DRB, and Dan Roush KB9KCF all deserve a big, big, big thank you for putting in another long day at the repeater site. There is still a lot of work to do, but at least we are back on the air.

We were able to duck the rain just long enough to put a vertical on top of the roof of the building temporarily, and to raise the feed line the rest of the way for the transmit antenna. So, the transmitter is on the air, at full power, and in its permanent antenna configuration at about 250 feet. It seems to be working slightly better than it did at the old site. We also have the Vincennes link running full time, and the voter is up and running.

Like I said, there is still work to do. We need to get the receive antenna off the roof and onto the tower. It's going to go up around 80 feet or so on the tower. The UHF antenna for the links hasn't even started up the tower yet, but fortunately there is one already on the tower that we can borrow until the broadcast station goes in, which will be a while. The autopatch project hasn't been started yet, and we are having problems picking up the Posey Co. (main) receive site. The weather alert system isn't back on yet either. The audio is a little hot, and so there is some clipping. Just back off the mic a little, and it should work fine.

Receive coverage has been surprisingly good for just an antenna on the roof. I'd say it's reliable for about a 20-30 mile radius, based on some very preliminary tests.

Please send any signal reports to [email protected] We may try to do some more next weekend, we'll just have to see how schedules work.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

 

Sent out on 10/19/2003...

A BIG, BIG thank you to our tower crew yesterday: Barry Shotwell KC9AXG, Jason Marsh N9RTB, Pete Crasher WB9DRB, and Dan Roush KB9KCF. We almost made it back on the air yesterday, but we didn't quite make it. The 2m antenna is now in place, and the feed line is most of the way up. We ran out of rope, pull, and sunlight so we couldn't finish. But, we made some significant progress.

We plan to finish up the work next Saturday. If anyone else is available to help, it would be greatly appreciated. I'd say chances are good that we'll be back on the air at least partially next Saturday evening.

We had to buy some rope for this project. To help defray the cost, and to help others with projects, we will loan out the rope once we're finished with the work at Ft. Branch in exchange for a donation to EARS. It's 380 feet long. So, if you know anyone who needs to borrow some rope, let me know. We'll be happy to help.

Hamfest time is coming soon. Our usual mailing will be arriving in your mailboxes in the next 3 weeks or so. I'm also planning a full, print newsletter as well.

Sent out on 9/28/2003...

Dan KB9KCF and I made some progress yesterday at the repeater site, but could not get enough done to get the repeater back on the air yet.

The antennas are re-assembled, and ready to go up the tower. Feedlines are also ready to go up.

The equipment rack was put into place and re-assembled. Everything is working just fine in the arrangement that it was in before the move (without the voter).

That's as far as we got. Next time, if we can get at least one of the antennas up and the feedline into the building, we'll be back on the air. I'd like to get that done next weekend or the weekend after. That will depend on the availability of help.

I also was able to pick up an audio compressor on eBay for 145.15. It will help level the audio like we do on 443.925.

I'm still running into a glitch with the cell phone autopatch idea. So, I'm still not sure if we'll have autopatch in Evansville again or not. Stay tuned.

Sent out on 9/27/2003...

We're going to work on antennas today at the Ft. Branch site, and hopefully get back on the air. If you can help, it would be appreciated. We'll start a little after noon. The site is the big microwave tower in Ft. Branch on Coal Mine Road. It's just to the east of US 41... pretty hard to miss it.

Sent out on 7/2/2003...

It is with deep regret that I inform you of the passing of Ed Estes WB9RWB. Ed has graciously provided a repeater site to the amateur community in his back yard for over 25 years. Ed was battling stomach cancer. He will be greatly missed. 73 OM.

Neil WB9VPG

The following obituary is from the online edition of the Evansville Courier and Press

Alonzo 'Al' E. Estes

Alonzo "Al" E. Estes, 72, of Newburgh, Ind,, passed away on July 1, 2003, at Cypress Grove Rehabilitation Center.

Al retired from Whirlpool Corporation. After retirement, he worked at Meadow Lanes. He was a ham radio operator, and enjoyed flying model airplanes and traveling.

He is survived by sister-in-law, Pat Estes, Newburgh, Ind.; sister, Helen Murphy of Minden, La.; brother, John R. Estes, Evansville, Ind.; and nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his brother, Jerry Estes, in 2001.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, July 3, 2003, at Browning Funeral Home, 738 Diamond Ave., with Rev. Debbie Payne officiating. Burial will be held at Oak Hill Cemetery.

Friends may call from 10 a.m. until service time on Thursday, July 3, 2003, at Browning Funeral Home.

Sent out on 6/22/2003...

I am pleased to announce that phase 1 of the 145.15 repeater is over! Thanks for the gracious help of Dan KB9KCF, Jason N9RTB, Pete WB9DRB, Pam WB9EAF, and Barry KC9AXG, all the equipment, parts, antennas, feedlines, etc. are all waiting to be installed at the new site, which is the old microwave tower in Ft. Branch. The new site is very nice, and will provide much safer and easier access to both equipment and antennas (not to mention a real bathroom!). We are working out the insurance details now, and working on a plan for putting the antennas up. With next weekend being Field Day, it's doubtful that much work will take place. But hopefully soon after that, we will have it back on the air.

Once everything is up and running, I'll be doing a printed newsletter announcing some minor changes in the autopatch procedure and what is coming in the future. If everything works right, we will start with two receive sites... the one we've been using for several years now between Evansville and Mt. Vernon, and one at Ft. Branch that will replace the low coverage, non-toned receiver at Darmstadt. We hope to add better access for EchoLink, and a receiver toward the east of Evansville.

Eric N9KDB has found another problem with the 146.925 transmitter which may have been causing the signal to drop all along. It may be out of service for a couple of weeks while the radio is sent in for repair.

Several people have asked about Ed WB9RWB's status. I have contacted him, but have not yet received a reply.

Have a great Field Day everyone!

73,
Neil WB9VPG

 

6/8/03...

I was not able to make all the contacts necessary to get the moving process started today on 145.15 in Evansville, and we had schedule conflicts with a lot of the help. So, we are going to try for Saturday, June 21. We may try to move some equipment before then, too... but it sounds like this is the next best opportunity. Please let me know if you can help. We need people to help box up parts, carry boxes, carry the rack, and to help on the ground crew taking down antennas and feed lines.

We are tossing around the idea of using a cell phone as the autopatch phone for Evansville. The advantage to this would be that we would get nationwide calling service. The down side is that it will be slightly more expensive than what we have been paying, and there is not a 100% sure way to limit the minutes per month to keep the cost reasonable. We haven't been using the autopatch much, but we still get a lot of requests for it, and it's helpful to have control access by phone.

EchoLink on the 145.11 is down. Jim thinks it was a lightning hit. It damaged the interface board. Part of it has been repaired, but there are still problems. We are hoping to get it back on 145.15 once everything is moved and operational again.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

4/20/03...

Hello, everyone! I have several things to update you on...

145.15: The repeater has been off the air since the antenna fell over. Thanks to Barry KC9AXG, the antenna has been secured with rope so at least it is intact and not going to damage any of the other antennas. We delayed working on the tower because of health problems that Ed, WB9RWB is currently undergoing. He is the owner of the land and the tower that we have been using for 145.15 for many, many years. I am sad to report that Ed has been diagnosed with stomach cancer. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy, and will be having surgery shortly to remove part of his stomach. At this time, the outlook is brighter than originally thought, but this is still going to be a major ordeal for him. His hearing is also in bad shape at this time, but that is a temporary condition. Regardless of the outcome, Ed most likely is going to sell his property in the next few months. Therefore, we have decided the best thing to do is to move the repeater. It is possible that the new owners would let us continue to use the site, and if that happens, we may put a receive site there in the future. But for now, we are looking for a new site. We have one in mind, but it may be up for sale. We should have some idea in the next week or two as to the status of this new tower site. Once we have a new site, we will need plenty of help getting the antennas and feed lines down, moving the equipment, and getting it all back up at the new place. I'll keep everyone advised about when this might take place. In the mean time, Jim WB9PZB and Tom KA9NOO have the 145.11 repeater up and running better, and has EchoLink running on it. It is operating under Jim's callsign. If you want to drop Ed a note, contact me and I'll give you a mailing address for his current location.

Hamvention: Barry KE4OXZ, Dan KB9KCF, and I once again are splitting a spot in the flea market at Dayton, space #725 as usual. We hope to see you there! Listen to 145.15 simplex, 107.2 CTCSS.

Finances: Last year's finances have been turned into the State DOR as a part of our annual non-profit organization report. They are posted on the web site. Basically, we showed a net loss of $7.77 this year. This is much better than past years. Donations are down, however. Hopefully we can get the new site up and running and keep it that way so we can offer dependable coverage. That might encourage folks to donate to the cause.

Evansville Hamfest: Saturday, November 29 is the date! We already have a new vendor that has reserved space. Maybe we can break our attendance record again this year! More on this as we get closer to Thanksgiving.

Antenna Bill: The antenna bill (SB 109) has passed in Indiana! It was an interesting turn of events getting there, but it's on it's way for the governor to sign. Rep. Matt Pierce N9VKU, a member of the house technology committee from Bloomington, came to the Bloomington Amateur Radio Club this month to explain exactly what happened. Basically, someone got a little too pushy... demanding to see the speaker of the house. He was escorted off the property for the day, and the bill was sent to the rules committee, where bills are usually sent to be killed. Somehow, it ended up being accepted by the committee with one slight change: The 75' number was removed from the language. Then, it went to the house for a vote and passed. Hopefully the governor will sign it soon, and then it will be law. Basically the bill recognizes PRB-1, and says that local zoning boards must exempt amateur radio operators from antenna and tower restrictions. Of course, neighborhood covenants are another issue. Thanks to all those who wrote in with comments on this bill.

Ham Club at Bloomington South: On a personal note, things are going well here. We have 8 young men and 1 young lady in the ham radio club at Bloomington South HS. We received one of the "Big Project" grants from ARRL, which provided the school with a Yaesu all band all mode rig, antennas, a tuner, coax, and a library of all the ARRL books. There are now 50 schools that have been awarded complete stations like this because of private donations. So, the next time you get a letter from ARRL wanting money for the "Big Project", you know it's really going to good use. We set up our station in the penthouse of the school last Friday, and we're working on getting the antennas mounted on the roof. We were able to hear Kuwait and N. Ireland just by leaning the antenna against the building on Friday.
I took my chemistry students and the ham club to Huntsville, AL last week for a one-day tour of the museum at Space Camp. They really enjoyed it. A group of them have decided to go to Hamvention. I can't wait to show them around!

That's all for now. 73 to all.

Neil WB9VPG

2/9/03...

Tom KA9NOO and Wes KJ5WD went out to the Evansville 145.15 site today to trade back some repaired equipment, and found that the transmit antenna that was bent in the storms last spring has been further damaged. The top section of the tower where the mast sits has now completely broken off. The antenna is hanging by the coax at this point. Therefore, the repeater has been turned off until repairs can be made or other arrangements can be made with a different antenna.

Barry KC9AXG took a look at the project in the fall, and has agreed to do the work once we get into good weather. We will need plenty of help on the ground when we get around to this project. I'll let everyone know when we can schedule this, but I'm sure it won't be for a month or two at the least.

Since 145.15 is down and 149.925 is on low power, we will suspend the Monday night nets until we can get things running better.

Sorry for the bad news, but at least we caught it before we took damage to the transmitter and amplifier.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

1/27/03...

We continue to make progress on repairs to the repeaters. With the help of Wes KJ5WD, Tom KA9NOO, and Jim WB9PZB, we hope to have the voter running this weekend on 145.15. This will help us make some more adjustments and solve some of the code decoding problems we've been having, and open up some room for additional receive sites and a better implementation of EchoLink, which by the way is back on!

Work at Vincennes has been slow. I've made four more trips to the site in recent days, and never seem to come away any better than when I arrived. The 440 receiver sensitivity is better, but still way below where it should be. I'm working with Pete WB9DRB on that one. We're going to look at trading out the receive strip. We still have not been able to get the tone decode to work correctly on the 2m receiver.

The main problem we've been having lately is the 2m receiver for 146.925 at Vincennes. As most of you know, we have been taking interference on this system, especially the last year or two. And, in recent weeks this interference has been pretty annoying and frequent. This past Saturday, I was able to recalibrate the receiver. That has eliminated most, but not all, of the adjacent channel interference.

After some events that occurred last Monday night during the net, I feel that a more complete explanation might be in order.

The source of the interference is a few users of the 146.94 Mt. Carmel repeater. It is NOT the Mt. Carmel repeater itself. It is from some of the users of 146.94 who are located close to the 146.925 receive site. Our receiver is picking up those signals, which are only 15 kHz away from our input frequency. Both repeaters are coordinated with their respective state coordinating bodies (IRC and IRA). The physical separation of the repeaters met the IRC and IRA guidelines for adjacent channel coordination back in the late 80s when 146.925 was originally assigned. Because this separation has dropped in recent years, we now exceed those requirements. But, we have a problem... our users overlap. In fact, some years ago the Mt. Carmel users noticed some limited interference from users of 146.925 when they were in close proximity to Mt. Carmel, notably people driving through Princeton. When we were made aware of this, we encouraged users of the EARS system to use the Evansville repeater when in that area, or the 443.925 repeater once it came into existence. This eliminated most, if not all, of the problem to the 146.94 system from EARS users.

As years went by, more and more users came on board to both systems. A few months ago, I received an email complaint about some interference issues to the 146.94 repeater. More of the users on 146.925 were in the Mt. Carmel area, and started to cause interference again to the 146.94. There was also some suspected interference on the 146.94 output frequency from the 146.925 transmitter, which was later found NOT to be the source of the problem. It was then realized that the 146.925 machine was the one suffering from adjacent channel interference do to the greatly increased activity on the Mt. Carmel 146.940 machine, not the other way around.

The 146.94 has recently replaced their receive antenna and feed line with new equipment, which has boosted the general usage of the repeater. Filters have been put in place to eliminate the interference caused to them from users of 146.925.

In an attempt to minimize the interference to 146.925, I felt it was time to require tone access on the Vincennes receiver. While this would not solve the interference problem itself, it would stop the repeated keying and noise that brings up the repeater. The only time the interference would be noticed is when both the 146.925 and 146.94 repeaters are being used at the exact same time. Then, we can look into some more options on narrowing the receiver. We always had filtering in place, and the receiver has been retuned. But, it's still picking up signals from some nearby users of 146.94.

It is because of open communication between the two repeater groups that this problem has not escalated into a feud. Apparently last night, some offensive and vulgar remarks were directed by someone toward users of the 146.94 system. Such remarks, in my opinion, are a great determent to Amateur Radio. We are working on, and have been working on, a solution to this problem. So I am kindly asking those on both sides to have patience, and to please refrain from making offensive remarks... especially on the air. Such tactics will just make the situation worse. On behalf of EARS, I wish to formally apologize to RADIO and other users of the Mt. Carmel repeater for the remarks that were made, even though I don't know who made them. And again, I ask that we continue to work together to resolve the situation and not escalate it.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

1/11/03... Thanks to the assistance of Tom KA9NOO and Wes KJ5WD, the 145.15 is back on the air! We replaced the power supply temporarily with a smaller one. Del WB9UKG is going to work on the old one. After that quick fix, we spent many, many hours in the cold trying to get the voter running. We were able to solve one problem, but now the voter itself has a problem. So, back to the drawing board.

We were experiencing some problems with the link from Evansville to Vincennes. Wes was going to try to fix that today, but I'm not sure if he had a chance or if he did if he had any luck with it. So, the link may only be in one direction for a little while.

There is a slight hum on the output, most likely due to the smaller power supply. (Both these items were fixed on 1/14/03)

1/5/03... There a hum in the power supply in Evansville on the 145.15 transmitter. It has been turned off until it can be repaired, hopefully next Saturday.

Sent out 12/1/2002...

Thanks again to everyone who helped with our 10th anniversary hamfest. We are very excited about setting a new all-time attendance record of 565. Attendance was 30.8% higher than last year. (Last year we had a 18% increase.) While we didn't completely sell out of tables this year as we have for the last 3 years, we only had 6 reminaing. Vendors seemed to be very pleased with the amount of sales. OPARS reported an increase from the concession stand. We had 15 people take advantage of the new VE testing feature, with 11 passing. This included several new hams. Dean Elkins K4ADJ from Henderson, KY won the grand prize Icom T-2H 2m HT. We also had some demonstrations of the EchoLink system on the repeater network, and a demo of the IRLP system in Evansville on simplex. Maybe next we can can make the EchoLink and repeater demonstration more formal as we get all the little bugs worked out.

Speaking of bugs, I found some programming problems with the repeater late Friday night that was causing some of the problems with people being able to dial up nodes on EchoLink. It should be working now. Give it another try. Please report any problems to myself or Jim WB9PZB, and we'll try to get it fixed.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 11/11/02...

Pete was able to get the 440 receiver at Vincennes tuned up, so it's working pretty well now. We're still having some trouble getting a signal back from the Farmersburg receiver though. But, you should notice much improved coverage on 443.925.

Also, I've been asked to pass this along...
Please publish and/or pass this around as much as possible.
The November meeting of the Indiana Repeater Council will be held at the Fort Wayne Hamlets this Saturday, November 16th at 1:00 PM.
DE N9WB
Walter Breining
Vice Chairman,
Indiana Repeater Council

Don't forget the hamfest November 30! Tables are still available.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 10/7/02...

Eric and I went to Paxton yesterday to look at the transmitter. The amplifier has been dropping out from time to time. We could not find the source of this problem. So, for the mean time, 146.925 is operating on exciter power (5 watts). We hope to fix this problem soon. Thanks for your understanding.

Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 8/13/2002...

Here is the latest news from EARS:

Monday I was able to make several repairs at Evansville. The link is now working to Vincennes. The autopatch is now working. The audio problems have been corrected, except for a little fine tuning. I evaluated the needs on the voter, and then ran out of time. But at least everything sounds good and functions now. We still have some occasional receiver problems from time to time, and still need to straighten up the transmit antenna.

Last Monday, Eric N9KDB and I hooked the DVR back up and worked on the weather alert system.

I am in the process of REQUIRING tone on the Vincennes repeater due to all the interference from adjacent repeater channel usage. The first attempt didn't work, but it shouldn't take much to get this working. So be sure you have 107.2 programmed in for 146.925. In the past, only the remote receiver has required the use of tone.

Things are gearing up for the 10th anniversary of the Evansville hamfest! A mailing will go out in the next couple of months about that.

Here is the status of all the repeaters as of August 13.

145.150 - transmit antenna bent, weather radio offline, remote receiver problems, voter not yet installed
146.925 - no problems to report; tone 107.2 will be required soon; Farmersburg receiver offline
443.925 - limited receive coverage

Everything else is working !!!!!

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 7/29/2002...

Today Eric N9KDB and I made a trip to the Vincennes site. We hooked the Digital Voice Recorder back up, so we have recorded IDs once again. We also found the problem with the weather alert system and increased the output on 443.925 back up to 50 watts. We still have problems receiving on the input of the 440 repeater, but the receiver is turned back on. It has been turned off for quite a while due to intermod. We're checking to see what it does, and may end up turning it off again until we can find the cause. All the functions of the Vincennes repeater are now functioning with the exception of limited receive coverage on 440.

We also have plans in the works for getting the Evansville repeater back to full receive and linked back to Vincennes. We were finally able to obtain a service manual on the transmitter, so hopefully we can address that situation soon.

There has not been a single check-in on the net in over a month now. Please try to check in on Mondays at 8:30 pm (Central). If there is no longer interest in the net and Newsline, we might as well discontinue the net.

73!
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 5/12/2002...

Good afternoon! Here is the latest from the EARS newsdesk...

Pete WB9DRB and myself made a trip to the Evansville repeater site to make another attempt at installing the voter and multiple receivers, and found the transmitter dead. So, we got a radio from Dan KB9KCF, and was able to get the repeater back on the air. We also installed the new amplifer, so we're now running our "usual" 120 watts again!

The bad news is that we couldn't get the CTCSS tone working correctly for the Vincennes link. I'm heading to Vincennes shortly, and I'm going to try to use a different method for picking up the link. Right now, the link works from Vincennes to Evansville, but not from Evansville to Vincennes. With any luck, I can fix that this afternoon.

The other bad news is that the main antenna at the transmitter site is bent over at a substantial angle (click here for picture). We need to have someone climb up the tower (about 100 feet), lower the antenna, straighten it out, and put it back. The SWR is fine; it just appears to be the mast portion that is bent. If anyone is willing to climb, please email me ASAP. We hope to have another work day after the Dayton Hamvention is over, probably Saturday May 25.

We also are facing some other problems with receivers. I've decided we're going to have to start putting in more modern, programmable receivers instead of these old crystal units. It will make handling the tone situation a lot easier, and I think the audio will be better as well. We are having too much trouble with tuning and pulling in weak signals. So, we are on the lookout for donations of or toward mobile radios that are capable of receiving the 440 band. If the finals are blown, that's fine. Maybe it's a dual bander that one side went out, or maybe a 440 only rig that just doesn't produce the power it used to. All we need is the receiver. If you can help, please email me ASAP. I'd like to get at least 3... more would be great. We could also use one or two 2m receivers.

Eric N9KDB and I think we have found a solution to the weather alert problem. We're working on that, and hope to have something back in place for the Evansville area soon. The weather alert at Vincennes is still functioning. We're also working on getting the Farmersburg receiver and the Vincennes 440 receivers reactivated.

Finally, Barry, Dan (KCF), and I have our usual spot in the flea market again at Dayton, #725. It's just a couple of rows behind the bus tents. Feel free to stop by and say hello. We'll be on 145.15 with 107.2, at least to start with.

I plan on sending out a newsletter soon, which will include more repeater updates as they happen, and information about the internet link that is now in place.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out later on 5/12/2002...

Hello, again! The padlocks at the repeater site were not in series, so I was unable to get into the site to change the link radio. So, the Evansville to Vincennes link will be down for a while. Vincennes to Evansville still works, though. The good news is that the Evansville receiver seems to be working.

For the net tomorrow, I should be able to hear the Evansville repeater, so we'll still be able to take check ins from both sides of the link.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

Sent out on 10/1/2001....

The 145.15 suffered a lightning hit a couple of weeks ago. It took out the phone line and some fuses, as well as the amplifier. The repeater has been back on the air for a while now, but without the amp and the autopatch. The autopatch service should be back anytime... we're just waiting on the phone company to repair the line. Eric N9KDB and I picked up the amplifier yesterday from Dan KB9KCF, and I'm sending it off to be evaluated and hopefully replaced by the insurance. Also, Eric and I went to both the Vincennes receive site and transmitter site (Paxton) yesterday to check on things. We turned the power up a notch on 146.925, it had been running a little low. We turned off the 443.925 receiver due to intermod. It opened the squelch up almost constantly at some points. So, the input to the Vincennes 440 repeater will not work for the time being until we can track down the problems there. The transmitter is still working fine. We also tried to repair the weather alert system in Evansville. Eric pulled it from the system for repair, and we'll get it back in as soon as it can be fixed.

So in short, the following are disabled:
145.15 autopatch
145.15 weather alert
145.15 is transmitting on low power
443.925 input

I'll try to get an email out when these come back online.

Plans for the hamfest are underway! November 24 at the 4-H Center, 8 am to 2 pm. Please spread the word on area nets and meetings. Complete info is at http://w9ear.org

Also, I apologize for not getting a newsletter out lately, but there hasn't been much going on with the repeaters. The move to Bloomington has also occupied most of my time. I plan on getting one out well in advance of the hamfest.

73,
Neil WB9VPG

 

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This page was last modified on March 6, 2017 by Neil Rapp, WB9VPG