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Author Topic: Best Repeater Config  (Read 739 times)

Posts: 61

« on: November 26, 2014, 04:23:05 PM »

After being a ham for 35 years I'm finally ready (I think) to set up a repeater.

Interest, finances and good site are all in place.

What I need (want) is something modern, easy to configure and would like to be able to control it via the Internet (there is connectivity at the site).

Would also be great if the controller had the ability to let me control a transceiver for remote operation, or even an HF rig remotely controlled.

So, for everyone with experience building repeaters, if you had wish for any setup, what would it be?

Thanks a bunch,

Joe, kc2yu

Posts: 353

« Reply #1 on: Yesterday at 07:41:37 AM »

Much depends on what features you want or will add later and of course how much you want to spend.  While commercial controllers offer more in the line of remote control, they offer little of the usual features that a ham controller has.  Here are a few questions you might want to think about:

How many radio ports do you envision (including future additions)
What kind of ID do you want (CW or voice)
Do you want to be able to have tail messages and/or alarms?
What kind of courtesy beep(s) would you like?
Will you eventually link to other repeaters and by what method? (RF, internet, other)

My system has undergone many changes over the years.  Right now I am using an Arcom RC-210 with a 2-meter repeater on port 1, a link  on port 2 to a distant UHF repeater and a UHF link to my house on port 3 for IRLP use.  It responds to two different PL tones, one for the UHF link and the other for local and IRLP.  Each PL tone reports a different courtesy beep (so one can tell whether he has activated the link or not) and each link also has a unique courtesy beep (so he knows where the signal originated from).  I also have an alarm for loss of commercial power and a second alarm that reports the voltage of the back-up battery when commercial power fails.  Some of these features are simply programming in the controller but need external hardware to make it all work that way.

The RC-210 programs with a laptop with point and click operation.  It's a versatile controller for the price.  For about the same money the S-COM 7330 is a more stable controller and I believe you can do more custom programming, but it's much more difficult to program. 

As for controlling an HF station at the site, I don't know of any repeater controller out there that has full functionality for that built in.  You will need to build or buy a separate controller for that however many can be interfaced into a repeater controller. 
If you're the type of ham that likes to add features and /or change the system configuration over time, and like to experiment, I would advise you get a three-port controller first.  Otherwise, adding ports later on will require throwing more money into the pit.

Good luck with your endeaver.

Hope this helps.

Tom NJ1K

Posts: 353

« Reply #2 on: Yesterday at 07:46:12 AM »

One more note:

Since you have IT connectivity already at the site, if it were me, I would make sure your controller can be programmed over that connectivity.  I don't know if there are any controllers out there that have internet connectivity built in however, if it can be programmed via serial port or USB port, it is easy enough to interface it into the internet.

Internet connectivity is the one major thing I would like to have, but it's just not cost-effective enough for me to add it.

Posts: 61

« Reply #3 on: Yesterday at 10:32:55 AM »

Thanks for the guidance, Tom!

I do not have certain answers to most of those questions -- I have ideas at this point.

Voice ID, tail msgs, either no beep or something pleasant, no linking to other repeaters at least at the beginning.

Programmed remotely via TCP/IP is a must.

It fits right in with (still vague) idea of remotely doing lots of things.

In my fantasy, the controller would allow for all functions to be remotely performed -- from power cycling itself to power cycling radios, reprogramming, controlling a secondary rig for checking out the bands from high on top, etc.

I'll check out the 2 controllers you mention.

Any further guidance would indeed be appreciated.

Joe kc2yu


Posts: 353

« Reply #4 on: Yesterday at 02:50:27 PM »

Keep in mind that most ham repeater controllers simply control the repeaters and links, provide for courtesy tones, play messages etc.  Any additional features you want need to be added externally.  This even includes a PL tone decoder.  I don't know of any that include a PL tone decoder internally (except commercial controllers). 

Both the 7330 and the RC-210 use a serial port for programming, thus if you want to program over IP, you would need to provide some sort of external gear to provide remote serial handshaking. 

A control receiver would need to be added to do over ther air programming  via DTMF. 

For HF remote base, check out the Doug Hall interfaces.

There's a whole world of things you can add, your imagination is the limit.  But it's all about money and time...

Posts: 61

« Reply #5 on: Today at 03:34:31 AM »

I was hoping there would be a high quality/reliable controller that included some of these additional features, but if they can be added easily enough with external components, that's fine.

I am surprised that I don't a controller with an ethernet connection (and built in web server) -- only serial.

When you say it's all about money and time, do those variable work inversely (i.e., if I'm willing to spend more money, I can spend less time), or do they work together (i.e., more money AND more time), as complexity grows?

What would you suggest if I wanted to be able to use the site for repeater and for remote base (full control)?

Thank you!
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