Main Menu

 

Club Information

Our Mission
It shall be our purpose to further amateur radio by serving the public; to promote technical knowledge, fraternalism, and individual operating proficiency; and to advance the general interest and welfare of amateur radio in the community.

HAM HUMOR LINKS

Famous Hams and Ex-Hams

Try a Ham Radio Interactive Crossword Puzzle

Check out this story

THE TOWER !



 

                                                        

The 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+ mhz. They 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 Multi-Mode version.

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 communication !

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 noise.

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 Site.


147.18 Gets Much Needed Equipment Upgrade

     On 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.

     The 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.

    This 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 fixed soon.

     The 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

  


The 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 use.

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 authorized.

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 callsign W8NP/R.


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.

The current 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 !


Club 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 maintenance. 

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 posted below.   

 

The converted Johnson Commercial UHF Repeater

The Reinstalled Johnson Repeater in it's home in the penthouse

The Inside of the Repeater

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 antenna

The new connection is checked with the antenna analyzer

The view from the top. Not the highest but along the north and south view we can see to the horizon.


The 29.64 10 Meter Machine

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 site.

78rpt3.jpg (69622 bytes)   

The Tower !

 

 

  78rpt1.jpg (88959 bytes)

The Base Of The Repeater Site    

                              

 78rpt4.jpg (84406 bytes)   

This Is Our Backup Battery Bank

 

 

  78rpt2.jpg (99049 bytes)

The Repeater And Controller
And ACC RC-85 Still Going Strong !


   

 This page was last updated on  12/27/15

Site best viewed in 800 x 600 Resolution
Using Microsoft Internet Explorer

 

2015 MARC