17-OCT-2021: DMR Back Online


The effort to update all of the PAPA System DMR repeaters to conform with the new BrandMeister network security protocols came to a close last week with the reconfiguration of the Sunset Ridge and Mt. Lukens sites. All of the DMR sites are operating normally at this time.

A funny thing happened on the way to Sunset Ridge. We’ve learned how to time our mountaintop trips to avoid the bulk of the morning commute on the freeways. The ride up the 15 and across on the 210 was smooth and without incident. On the way up Mt. Baldy Road, we encountered two traffic slow downs conducted by Southern California Edison to accommodate some construction they were conducting in the area. The dirt road to the site was in amazingly good condition and we arrived at the site without drama.

DMR updates don’t require any test equipment or special tools like most hill trips. All that’s required for the repeater update is a computer with the proper CPS and a programming cable. While Cecil unlocked the door to the building, I grabbed my computer bag and did a quick visual inspection of the site. It was cloudy at our elevation so there was not much to see over Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties. I went inside and set up my computer and plugged the programming cable into the DMR repeater. After logging in to my computer, I launched the CPS application and that’s where the fun began.

Just as the CPS program came up there were a lot of clicking sounds in the building. The lights went out and everything got quiet. A few seconds later I could hear the sounds of backup generators starting at other sites on the mountaintop. Our site remained quiet as there is no generator installed. I thought about the SCE work on Mt. Baldy Road and quickly made the connection. Had we only arrived at the site five minutes earlier, the update would be complete and we’d be back on our way home.

I searched around inside the building and found an uninterruptible power supply that was keeping a router alive. Since I always bring a minimum complement of tools to every site visit, I had a roll-out type AC extension cord available. I connected to the UPS and powered up the PAPA DMR repeater long enough to complete the upgrade process.

Heading home on Mt. Baldy Road, I told one of the SCE workers at the traffic stop that the power was out at the communications site atop Sunset Ridge. He replied that they were replacing poles in the area and that the power would be out at the site for most of the day. I told Cecil that we should probably have a small transportable UPS in our toolkit for instances just like this should they occur in the future. After about 3 femptoseconds of thought, Cecil said that he’d call Kevin at Bioenno Power and see what he had available to solve this problem.

A few days later we had a new 160 Watt hour rechargeable 110Vac inverter from Bioenno (BPP-160). Kevin donated this unit to PAPA to support our site maintenance activities. Thanks Kevin, this is exactly what we needed and it will be put to good use for years to come. Thanks to Kevin at Bioenno and all of the PAPA partners who make regular contributions to the club to support our ongoing operations. I urge every PAPA member to support our partners in return. These partners are PAPA System members who are in a unique position to contribute to the System. You can learn more about our PAPA partners at https://papasys.com/about-papa/papa-partners/.

Next on the TECHTEAM agenda is Toro Peak where we recently suffered a disruption of our network connectivity following an intense lighting storm in the area. There are a number of active components in the chain providing our IP connection at the site. We’ve assembled nearly all of the elements that might be required to restore service to the site. Hopefully, the weather will remain in our favor and we’ll be able to get to the site in the next few weeks to troubleshoot and repair the microwave data system.

There is an exciting technical project on the horizon for the PAPA System. Stay tuned to the website for an announcement.


Author: Chris AA4CD

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