VA6WCT Repeater A brief History

VA6WCT Repeater A brief History

The basic repeater started its life providing ground communications at the Edmonton International Airport (YEG). Upgrades were done at the airport and the repeater was decommissioned.

Destined for destruction Gary Burt (VE6GLB) made arrangements to salvage the equipment for re-purposing as an amateur radio repeater. Gary didn’t get around to doing the work required and began looking for a suitable home with HAMS who would take over his dream of putting the equipment back in use for amateur radio communications.

October 3, 2018 Bart Vinkenborg (VE6VB) initiated communications between Gary and Tom Harnum (VA6WT). Having no repeater experience Tom reached out to Mike Morin (VA6WM) for advice. It was decided that obtaining the equipment was the first priority and from there it could be determined what needed to be done.

On October 5, 2018 Tom drove to Edmonton and picked up the equipment from Gary. With everything back in Whitecourt some preliminary testing was performed to determine if the unit was functional. Initially, the repeater appeared to be locked in transmit mode. After removing and reinstalling a few boards this problem subsided. The results of the preliminary testing proved very positive. As the radio boards of the Motorola MSR 2000 utilize crystal oscillators the next step would be to source out a supplier for new crystals.

There were some discussions amongst the Whitecourt group and Alex Code (VA6MCP) agreed to sponsor the repeater and use the call sign he holds for group functions in Whitecourt (VA6WCT) Mike got in touch with Don Moman (VE6JY who is the provincial frequency coordinator) to seek out a frequency pair for the repeater.

There was one pair the Don thought might be appropriate. It was previously used by Hubert Johnson (VE6AMY). Hubert graciously agreed to relinquish his frequency pair for the Whitecourt Repeater project. While in Edmonton, sometime later at Alpha Radio, Tom spoke to Dave Yaeck (VE6DJY) about the project. Tom was trying to gain sources of information on parts and crystal suppliers but found much much more.

Dave became very interested in the project due to his extensive experience with the Motorola MSR 2000 repeater format. Dave offered his assistance openly. Dave asked for some time to “check a few things out” before the Whitecourt repeater project moved forward. When Dave reported back he said he knew of a donor repeater that was decommissioned by an amateur radio group that ceased to operate (Radio Amateur Education Society). The bylaws of the defunct group stipulated that any hardware owned by the group would need to be dispersed appropriately throughout the amateur radio community.

Dave was able to procure the donor repeater. Dave then offered to assist in removing the radio boards from the donor repeater and retuning the boards to the new frequency. The frequency allocation application again needed to be processed through Don. The application was approved for the frequency of the donor repeater (444.325mhz RX with 449.325mhz TX, 136.5hz tone).

In December 2018 Tom delivered the working repeater to Dave, at Alpha Radio, for reworking. In January 2019 Dave reported the work had been complete, including retuning of the duplexer, and the repeater was ready for pickup. Tom asked if it could sit there until the February Amateur Radio Swap meet in Edmonton as Tom would be in Edmonton again then. It was agreed and on February 16, 2019. The working repeater and donor repeater was picked up and brought back to Whitecourt.

The only thing missing was a controller. Mike had one he was selling and it was decided that it would be bought by Alex Code (VA6MCP) and Don Shaw (VA6DBS). Alex and Don bought the controller and donated it to the repeater project. Mike graciously offered to program the controller for use with VA6WCT.

February 25-27 2019 the repeater was set up in Tom’s station by Mike and Tom. Mike added his IRLP node and with assistance from Verne Taylor (VE6RNE), who offered to loan an internet networking bridge, a temporary internet service was installed. Initial trials brought an audio problem to the surface. The problem showed as a high pitch squeal on the audio. Mike was able to examine the repeater live as the problem occurred and successfully solve it by some fine-tuning of the power amplifier board. They often refer to the Amateur Radio world as a community.

This repeater stands as a testament to the high level of cooperation and sharing of property and skills among that community. A community you can feel proud to be a part of and honored to be surrounded by such great people. I am truly honored and grateful for the support of everyone listed here in

Written by: Tom Harnum (VA6WT)

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