Highlights from the IRG 2023 fall meeting

Submitted by admin on Tue, 2023/10/17 - 08:47

Over 35 members attended the fall meeting of the International Repeater Group held on Sunday, October 15 in Upper Kingsclear NB.  In addition to a detailed update on the repeater system changes underway, members were invited to volunteer in the new RAC New Brunswick structure and had a virtual tour of the new solar-powered repeater site at Mount Carleton Provincial Park.  

Here are some of the highlights:

Presentation from VE9BK, J-P LeBlanc, RAC Section Manager for New Brunswick:  Now that NB is a separate entity in RAC, J-P is looking to set up a structure along the lines of the new RAC format.  He is looking for some deputies to take on specific duties, many related to emergency communications.  Those who volunteer would need to be members of RAC, and it is recognized it might take some time to get everything set up.

Treasurer’s Report:  Gordon Boone VE9GB reported a healthy balance in our accounts, with meetings cancelled due to COVID, we have not had many expenses over the last few years.  Much of the equipment in the system upgrades is surplus being re-purposed at little expense so far.  It was agreed by all that our current balance will allow a one-year free membership to be added to all those who are current as of October 2023.

Interference on system:  The cases of malicious and other interference during nets was has decreased lately, perhaps due to the tones being implemented.  If it starts again, we are asking members to listen on the input frequencies of their local repeaters to see if it is originating near them, and report any observations via the IRG web site contact form.

IRG System Upgrade: Gino Mazzerole VE9GM and Nick Robinson VE9MP of Radio Communications Branch of NBDTI presented highlights of the upgrades since the last meeting, including the new repeater sites at Grand Lake, and Mt. Carleton, the latter being the first NB solar-powered site, details of that unique site were explained.  

Several repeaters have been upgraded to newer models.  PL tones are now being sent out at all sites, and over half now require users to enable tones on their radio.  Addition of tones will help eliminate stray signals and allow greater sensitivity settings, hence more coverage area on some repeaters.

Three UHF repeaters no longer needed by EMO have been converted to use for IRG, are currently operational and located in Saint John, Fredericton and Pleasant Ridge.

It was noted that the preparation of the new controllers and wiring is a slow and tedious process being carried out in off-hours, and when the central hardware swap takes place, there will be changes in the zone configurations and linking codes.  

Members were reminded to always identify as per Industry Canada regulations, even when just testing their PTT.  And always remember to announce what you are doing when linking, and remember to unlink when you are finished as the system  will not do so by itself.

There being no further business, participants enjoyed a lunch of pizza, beverages and conversation.  Draws for 50/50 and door prizes were held.

The next meeting date and location will be announced as spring 2024 approaches.