25FEB2021: A Trip To Otay

It was a beautiful clear winter day with unlimited visibility from the top of Mt. Otay. This day, February 24, 2021 marked the end of an over year-long campaign to upgrade the analog repeaters at every PAPASYS site. PAPA members Blair, KD6IFG, and Ed, WA6YVX put in a long day to make the transition to the new hardware at the site. The upgrade program began 14 months earlier with the installation of a Motorola MTR-2000 UHF repeater at the Thousand Oaks site.

This wasn’t the first hardware update for the Mt. Otay site, but, it should be the last major overhaul. Because Mt. Otay is in my backyard and the site is accessible almost anytime during the year, the upgrade of P11 and P12 was held until the end after the more inaccessible sites could be serviced. Like all of the other PAPA sites, the upgrade was more than just a repeater swap out exercise. At Mt. Otay, only the UHF filters and 220 duplexer were left in place from the prior hardware complement.

Some PAPA sites are easy to get to while others represent a hard drive each and every time. Getting to the site at Mt. Otay is relatively smooth, however, the last 30 meters from the parking area to the building are a real challenge when transporting radio hardware and test equipment. The foot path to the site is best described as a rocky mule trail intent on upending you or twisting an ankle. While I removed the legacy equipment from the rack, Blair made quick work of the trail and brought up all of the new hardware from his off-road vehicle.

Everyone worked as a team to rack and stack the new repeater system. The 440 and 220 repeaters, along with a new controller and RoIP network interface, were constructed and tested on the ground prior to deployment. The new Mt. Otay repeater system had seen a solid month of burn-in in the PAPASYS test rack before the site trip was scheduled. Having everything tuned, aligned, and tested on the ground dramatically reduces the time spent on the mountain. With this upgrade, all PAPA sites share the same architectural approach and common radio system platforms. This should make preventive and emergency maintenance easy to accomplish in the future.

A few minor clean-up and improvement items remain and should be taken care of within the next two weeks. The Mt. Otay site is working well providing outstanding coverage of the San Diego metro area. We are fortunate to house our repeaters at this well managed amateur only site. When you are in America’s Finest City, give P11 and P12 a try.


Author: Chris AA4CD

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