We've got the Heyworth D-Star on the air...and completing the testing. I've gotten a couple of questions about how much it all costs. So to share with everyone, here's what we've invested:
Used Kenwood TKR-820 UHF repeater, narrowbanded $270
Duplexer - notch only, mobile type, donated $0
DVRPTR d-star connection, with cables and enclosure $130
Raspberry PI computer board, with case, with heatsinks, with power supply $70
Coax, donated $0
Power strip with surge connector $15
Coax surge protector $35
Antenna, donated $0
All together, we have $532 invested in the KD9AKF system. If you were building a comparable system, you would probably spend another $100-$200 on a duplexer, $100 for coax, and then anywhere from $150 to $350 for a quality antenna. Low end, you're looking at $900 for a complete system - high end, you should be under $1400.
We went really quick getting our system up and running - we went from "idea" to "working system" in 60 days. We'll end up having another $100 in labor costs to get the repeater reprogrammed for our final coordinated frequency.
We also have been really fortunate to have a great working relationship with the local grain elevator that is providing us with tower space. We're also getting a free internet connection from the wireless internet provider that is co-located at the elevator. How sweet is that!
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
My ham radio adventure continues. I know I haven't written much about life on the farm lately, but since it is so cold not much farm or outdoor stuff is getting done! I have started working a new mode in ham radio - Digital Voice, specifically D-Star! With the help of my buddies K9GUN, KC9REG, KB9GIG, and KJ9P, the Heyworth D-Star repeater is on the air! It's under callsign KD9AKF on 444.2375. You can read more about it on our QRZ page (http://qrz.com/db/KD9AKF). This hobby is really, really fun!
Monday, January 20, 2014
For Christmas this year I received a Raspberry Pi. This is one sweet little computer! I also asked for (and got) an TNC-X board that you build and then plug into the top of the Pi. I now have a fully-functional APRS I-Gate and fill-in Digipeater up and functional here on the south side of McLean County. The stats are remarkable...and after some fiddling, filtering, and optimization, I've got it working just like I want. There are a few wide-area digipeaters in the area, but not many I-gates. While digipeaters allow mobile or portable stations to get their packets out to a broader audience, an I-gate takes APRS traffic from the internet and puts it out on the RF. Likewise, it take RF traffic and puts it back on the internet. Using a program called aprx, I'm running a digipeater and I-gate all from the little Pi! A local member of the Central Illinois Radio Club (CIRC) had an Alinco 2m rig he wasn't using anymore. That, along with the homebrew j-pole antenna I built, makes for a pretty good station. I'm only 30' up in the air, but we're on a bit of a rise. I'm copying stations from up to 75km away.
The KG9DW Repeater in Heyworth is up and running on the Tate and Lyle Grain Elevator! This puts the repeater up at about 200' AGL. I made a trip to Indiana this past weekend and I was able to work it from Champaign. That's a pretty good haul for a kludged together UHF ham repeater. The antenna is a 8 element Decibel antenna, with 9 to 11 DB of gain (depending on who you ask). The antenna was abandoned from a farm operation that moved to Nextel or phones or something. This made the move a near non-event. The only hard part was routing the coax into the pressurized room. The previous coax had been removed, and the hole had been filled in. A little chiseling (without a chisel) and I was in. I've been working guys all over McLean and Dewitt counties, and even some down into Logan county. Give a hollar anytime on 442.825+ 141.3PL.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
It's up, and it's working great! We actually got the repeater on the fire tower back in October, but I forgot to post the update here! With a handheld, you can work all around town very easily. With a mobile, the south side of Bloomington, up to Washington, down to Lincoln, and south to Dewitt are all workable. I've submitted a request to move the repeater to the grain elevator south of Heyworth. This would put it up at 185 feet and greatly expand its coverage. Because of where the equipment room is at the elevator, we'll still have 100 feet of coax loss. Anytime I'm in the truck, you can catch me on the air. I also try to have a handheld handy when I'm watching TV or piddling around the house. Give me call, and enjoy the repeater! KG9DW/R 442.825+ PL141.3