Repeater's Of The MARC
The Massillon Amateur Radio Club operates 2
Repeaters in Western Stark County, one on 147.18+ mhz and the other on 442.85+
both bear the club call W8NP.
The 147.18 Machine
New Club Repeater Updates
(Nov 17, 2014) - - As many of
our club members have noticed, we have a new 147.18 repeater in
operation. It is a Yaesu "Fusion" DR-1X Multi-Mode repeater.
What is a Multi-Mode repeater you ask? Unlike the Icom D-Star
system, the Fusion will function with both digital and analog
radios. The Fusion system uses what is called "C4FM FDMA"
digital encoding and is not compatible with other digital modes
such as D-Star, DMR, NXDN and P25.
Because it is compatible with existing analog radios, nobody
will be required to buy new radios, but when it comes to replace
your existing mobile or HT, you may want to consider a
The new repeater has been in service since October 27, 2014.
During the short time we've had it on the air, it has been
getting rave reviews. If you thought our previous repeater had
good performance, you will be pleasantly surprised at the way
the new one is working.
So far, only analog radios have been in use. Digital radios
will be showing up before long. When digital mode is in effect,
you will hear what sounds like a rush of noise on your analog
radios. To eliminate this noise, you will need to enable your
CTCSS (PL) decode. The repeater still uses the 110.9 Hz CTCSS to
gain access and also transmits the same CTCSS tone when
transmitting in the analog mode. The tone is not present when in
the digital mode, so your CTCSS decode will block the noise.
Presently only a small group of club members are using the
new Yeasu digital style radio's and there has been very little
digital voice showing up on the repeater.
We are still learning the operational characteristics of the
new repeater and we will pass along updates as we are able.
Our thanks to the members of the club for purchasing this new
technology that will take the MARC into tomorrow's world of
De Ralph, K8HSQ - MARC President.
Repeater Status Update
(Oct 5, 2013) - - At the October club meeting it was
decided that the club 147.18 Mhz Repeater operation status would
be changed from a generally open system to PL Status.
This means that a PL Tone of 110.9 Hz will
be required to access the repeater.
While we are still experiencing some
receiver problems at the site, seasonal atmospheric conditions
are causing the receiver to open easily creating open squelch
Until all receiver repairs are completed
and when band conditions ease, the PL tone will remain in place.
All club members and general users of the
repeater are still welcome to use the repeater anytime, it is
not the intention of the club to restrict it's use !
Thanks for your understanding as we try to
make the repeater suitable for all users.
The club also thanks the following members
for lending their time to upgrade the club's repeater site.
Maintenance at the site was overdue and with good weather
running out, club President Mike, WA8MKH organized a work detail
to complete this project.
Weeds had nearly overgrown the site and
the building was in need of painting. This was completed
with minimal cost to the club. Special Thanks to the following
team, Mike - WA8MHK, Carol - KB8IMH, Ralph - K8HSQ and
Tony - KD8UXK.
The completed project.
Weeds removed, building and fence painted.
The main entry into the
Gets Much Needed Equipment Upgrade
Saturday - March 9, 2002, members of the MARC Repeater Technical Committee made
some much needed repairs to the club's 147.18 repeater. Our heavily used main 2
meter repeater suffered a transmitter problem a few weeks back which lowered the
output power to only about one watt. While still functional, it greatly reduced
the repeaters wide area coverage.
Technical Committee had been preparing new RF equipment for some time in
anticipation of an equipment upgrade to the repeater. This new equipment
included both a new transmitter and receiver, as well as a new 100 watt final
amplifier. This new equipment is a General Electric Master II Series Base
Station converted to amateur service. This time proven system replaced the
nearly 10 year old repeater which was a converted General Electric Mobile Radio.
The existing ACC RC-85 repeater controller was reinstalled into the new
repeater should provide the club many years of reliable service. As with any
major equipment upgrade, there will be many post installation adjustments
necessary to fully "fine-tune" the repeater to its final setup. Output
power, squelch adjustments, audio characteristics, etc are but a few of the many
adjustments necessary to make the repeater have that great audio ours is known
for. The repeater will also have "Tone Squelch", which will
allow you to hear only stations transmitting and not the controller audio or any
hash caused by band openings. This feature is not yet operating but should be
installation took nearly the entire day as our technicians made the conversion
to the new system. Special thanks to the following club members and individuals
for giving up their Saturday to get our repeater back into service. They
were: Technical Committee members Jim Farriss - WA8GXM and Perry Ballinger
- W8AU. Terry Russ - N8ATZ and Don Finley - W8DEF also provided support. Club
member Jason Stroll - KC8LIN also stopped by to check thing out. A special
thanks to Marty Baker - N8XPK, who also helped out with the installation. Marty
is a member of the Pioneer Amateur Radio Club and an experienced two-way radio
technician who owns and operates several repeaters himself in the Akron area
including a super six-meter repeater on 53.17 Mhz. Some pictures of the
installation project are shown below.
|W8AU begins wiring the
controller to the new repeater
|Lets see, which wire
was that again ?
|Marty - N8XPK is always
ready to break out the BIG GUN !
|Marty & Jim -
WA8GXM prepare the new RF equipment
History Of The 147.18 Repeater
The following history lesson
is courtesy of the Massillon "FEEDBACK" Newsletter August 1992
Two meter FM was active in the 50's in this area mainly with Civil Defense. W8QA
had control of the dozen or so pack sets available. Around 1962, many of us
began to convert used police/taxi units to 146.94 simplex. As growth continued,
other simplex channels were adopted.
Repeaters began to appear about 1966 with W8IOO in Youngstown
opening up on 146.94 !. This didn't last long because of all the complaining.
Newcomerstown was next, W8THC, with output on 146.76 and input on 146.94.
In the late 60's and early 70's Massillon adopted 147.18 as
"our" simplex frequency, to get away from the repeaters that were
mainly using 146 - 147 Mhz. This worked well until repeaters needed additional
room and the "repeater council" opened up 147 - 148 Mhz for repeater
We complained to the council, but "squatter rights" on
147.18 were not going to stop "progress." So, in order to keep
147.18, we had to establish a repeater their.
This was not well received by the repeater council, as they had
already authorized the city of Parma near Cleveland to use 147.18. These were
the early days of the repeater council, however, and their authority was not as
well established as today. So they listed both Parma and Massillon as holders of
this frequency, although, engineering wise, this was too close. In actual
practice, it wasn't too bad, as they were on the north side of the
"summit" and it didn't have a high elevation. We were not really
"line of site" with each other.
Early tests in 1975 made at W8AU's QTH (then in Jackson
Township) with vertically separated antennas instead of a duplexer, were not
satisfactory, but we could show we were "using" the frequency. A
fellow in Orrville kept asking the council for our frequency, reporting that we
were not using it. Letters went back and forth between W8AU and the repeater
council on this, and ultimately we prevailed.
A used Sinclair duplexer (four cavity hybrid ring
for you tech types) was purchased and rebuilt for the lower
frequencies of 147.18 / 147.78. Finally, we were on reliably !
The initial gear was tube type, Motorola G series
recv/xmitr strips at 10 watts (20 ERP) with a standby 500 watt
Motorola amplifier added around 1977.
In 1979 the repeater moved (with W8AU) to higher
ground on a hill southwest of Massillon, in Tuscarawas Township
where it remained until about 1990 using the same G series
equipment, having served way beyond its commercial life. Since
then it has moved to "The Site" located on a railroad
tower about 175 feet high and was upgraded several times to
commercial General Electric solid state equipment thanks to then
club member Steve Garwood - N0CZV. An ACC RC-85 Controller was
purchased (still in use today) and the repeater has become the
high profile system in Western Stark county since then.
An interesting thing happened to the Parma 18
repeater about 1981. It's owner moved to Wakeman in Lorain county
and took it with him, where it operated for a few years with
little or no users. He then wanted to move back to Parma, but had
to re-apply to the repeater council for permission. He was denied
the right to use 147.18 in Parma this time as Massillon was too
close ! Had he never moved it away, it would have still been
Our repeater was originally assigned the call
WR8AKA in 1976 when special calls were required. The "R"
identified it as a repeater callsign. This held until the five
year license period ran out. By then, the FCC had deregulated to
where they stopped assigning special calls and repeater operators
had to use their own or a club's callsign. The change to W8AU/R
occurred during that time and ultimately changed to the club
The 442.85 Machine
The 440 repeater is on 442.85 Mhz and was
designed to serve the greater Massillon area. It is located
at Massillon's Affinity Hospital. It consists of an
Johnson Commercial UHF Repeater and also uses an ACC RC - 85 controller. It is used as our "rag chew"
repeater but during severe weather is used to provide the hospital with Skywarn reports.
status of the club's UHF Repeater System.
Our Club's repeater
inventory has increased recently. We now have two 442.85 MHz UHF
Repeaters online. Our regular machine located atop Affinity
Medical Center in town has been rebuilt with new hardline and
antenna, replacing the defective components. It's performance is
now as good or better than the original and will be our primary
repeater used for any public service events in town.
The recent purchase of a
new Yaesu System Fusion Digital/Analog repeater is also up and
running located at Jim's (WA8GXM) farm. To accommodate the two
repeaters being online we have activated different PL Guard
tones on each one. The Ohio Area Repeater Council standard for
this area is 131.8 Hz, which the hospital unit has always used.
The System Fusion machine
has been configured to require a PL tone of 110.9 Hz. Of course
this machine can also be used for digital communications using
any of the C4FM Yaesu rigs.
Coverage of the two
machines is different. The Hospital repeater has always favored
North/South due to being in the Tuscarawas river valley. The
System Fusion machine is located in the western portion of Stark
County and is more omni-directional.
All machines are of course
open for use by all club members and amateur operators
everywhere ! Enjoy !
UHF Repeater Update
(May 1, 2005) -- Those that do not remember the movie Cowboy
Gene Autry singing this song during the Saturday Movie Matinees
can ignore this title. The MARC 442.85 Mhz repeater, located at
Massillon Community Hospital since 1991, is back in business after
being off for nearly a year.
The former equipment, a non-commercial Icom
repeater, had been suffering from old age (yes, only about 12
years old) and requiring repetitive repairs. This was due to the
excessive circuitry using PLL generation for the TX and RX
sections, a "frequency-agile" unit not really suited for
"long term" usage on one basic frequency. Component
failure was just compounded with this system, due to the excess
circuitry, and it needed to be retired.
About this time, along came a 10 year old E.F.
Johnson commercial repeater, formerly used by the Timken Company
when they had their own radio system. The generous donation was
arranged by Mark Smith-KC8RPF, (formerly WB8VGD), the last radio
technician in Timken's former radio department. The Johnson unit
used standard straight-forward crystal controlled circuitry and
was extremely rugged. The conversion from 460 Mhz to 442 Mhz began
slowly, with occasional roadblocks from wrong crystals and
reordering, plus some time constraints which we all seem to have.
The Johnson controller, an integral part of the operation of the
TX and RX, also had to be either integrated with the ACC RC-85
controller, or tossed and the RF units modified to run solely with
the RC-85. The latter was decided upon, for simplicity in
At long last, with everything tuned to optimum,
the beast was carted to the hospital and lugged up the elevator
and two floors of staircase. It was installed in the elevator
penthouse (a very nasty place) and made operational. BUT...
something was not right. The SWR on the existing antenna and coax
was bad !. We decided to leave the repeater on and tested it as we
all drove home. Gosh, the range was terrible !.
Although some found it hard to believe the
existing antenna or the Andrew Heliax was faulty, it had to be
investigated. A few days later, we came back to attack the
hardware on the roof. The antenna was found resonant at 450 Mhz,
not 442 Mhz and the heliax had weather damage at the connector,
causing the shield to become disconnected due to corrosion.
Another trip to get a new connector meant a later visit in the day
for final repairs.
Fortunately, the heliax was good after cutting a
foot of it off the roof end and adding a new connector. The result
is that the repeater is working nicely, even with the antenna
itself still having a 2.5/1 SWR, and the repeater needing a new
GasFet preamp. Better days are coming ! So, those of you that had
442.85 in your memory banks can again pay attention to it, or if
you have since picked up a newer radio you can program it into the
memory. It has been humming for the past six weeks, first at
W8AU's QTH, and three weeks at the hospital. This system will no
doubt be used for this winter's Holiday parade, as downtown
coverage is superb.
This description of hospital repeater work may
sound laborious, but you really don't know the whole story !. The
location (elevator penthouse) is an out-of-the-way, hard-to-find
spot, two floors higher than the last elevator stop, with loud
elevator winches whining away, spinning off carbon dust from motor
brushes, and requiring a security guard escort at each visit. And,
this is even before the necessary task of hauling test gear and
tools. Everything you touch is dirty and black from the carbon
dust. Talk about difficult maintenance, but ham radio is a labor
of love, isn't it ? Any prospective electronics maintainers
reading this ? Have we got a deal for YOU !.
The system is currently running open at an output
power of 80 watts to the antenna. Range is about as before
covering most of the greater Massillon, Canton area. During times
of interference and band openings a PL tone of 131.8 Hz will be
necessary to use the system. The autopatch has also been
reconnected and is available for local calls only.
The Technical Committee will be monitoring the
system for now to ensure it is working properly.
73's, De W8AU.
Some pictures of the trip and the system are
The Reinstalled Johnson Repeater in it's home in
The inside of the system. The ACC RC-85
Controller is wrapped in plastic to try to keep out the heavy
carbon dust generated by the elevator system.
Starting at the top is the controller followed
by the Receiver and Transmitter cabinet drawers. Below them are
the Duplexers. The last and by far the heaviest is the 100 percent
duty rated power supply system.
Tower man Jim - WA8GXM heads up on the cooling
tower roof to the antenna.
The view from the roof under the cooling tower.
The repaired hardline is reconnected to the
The new connection is checked with the antenna
The view from the top. Not the highest but along
the north and south view we can see to the horizon.
The club also supports a 10 Meter Repeater
on 29.64 Mhz. While this is an open repeater it currently
requires a PL Tone of 103.5 Hz for access. The input is 29.54.
While there is not much traffic on this machine it does give an
indication when the 10 meter band is open. Feel free to
use this machine !
Below are several images of the 147.18 repeater
The Tower !
The Base Of The Repeater Site
This Is Our Backup Battery Bank
The Repeater And Controller
And ACC RC-85 Still Going Strong !
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