Club repeater coverage of Southern Benton County

Continuing the discussion from Weather Nets, and severe weather procedures:

Branching this off into a separate topic, and really hoping for some feedback from all you guys that are smarter than me. Greg brings up a good point that I’ve noticed a few times as well. For new operators or people who only have a mobile station and HTs, it can be very difficult to reach the BCRO repeaters from much further south than Mercy in Rogers (exit 84 on I-49).

Has there ever been a discussion, or could there be a discussion on a potential 3rd repeater somewhere Central/South Benton County? I know @k5wlr is our trustee so maybe he can speak into this best?

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I am very curious about this as well as my only reliable option is to go mobile, which is fine as long as I’m not multitasking during a net. Just thinking about things like the weather nets or other community service opportunities we don’t really properly cover the county we serve currently (two way communication, I can listen just fine just can’t get in).

Will be interested in the replies. In my case, I just needed some height on my antenna, but I have a 50w dual band radio (Icom 2730). Since then I’ve found my mag mount works OK, especially for the NWA linked repeaters if I put it on my teardrop trailer outside, which is aluminum skinned. It works as a larger ground plane. Only draw back is it doesn’t stick :-).

I use an Ed Fong dual band antenna and have it mounted on a push-up telescoping pole so the antenna is about 10 feet above the roof line. Pics on my QRZ page. Here at Monte Ne I can hit the Centerton repeater but I have better reception and signal reports from the Whitney Mountain repeater.

There are all kinds of simple 2-meter antennas to build. Search online. But height is usually the key to getting out with a good signal.

And of course, the limited power of a HT will be a factor as well.

Hope this helps some.

73

Very interesting to consider. I myself at Prairie Creek experience the geographic challenge of the Centerton BCRO repeater. Currently addressing this with 3rd antenna swap. With the same exact radio the antenna differences are monumental. The highest gain vertical antenna was less effective than a lower gain at the same height. I believe the higher gain antenna had a lower trajectory, cramming my RF into the terrain and obstacles. My current attempt is adding roughly 10’ of height which equates 30’ above ground and a gain level between the last 2 attempts I am hoping for a full quiet response in the 40 to 50 watt range. The new style vertical is a 2 meter mono band 2 & 5/8 wave as opposed to a dual band vertical. At a full 50’ of LMR 400 and only one separation for lightning arrest / coax ground, my goal is maximum efficiency. Granted, there is absolutely no substitute for greater antenna height on 2m FM, this will be my Centerton shot on goal before I succumb to the financial nightmare of the eventual tower. Yes I could go into Whitney mountain, with an HT but currently Whitney mountain link doesn’t sound so great. I am secretly considering a personnel investment in Whitney mountain, that will be a talk for another day… I want in on the Thursday net, my goal is full quieting into Centerton for now. I should be up and testing in a week or so… Cheers

Now a direct response. It would be brilliant to have easy low power access into BCRO sponsored repeater facilities. Perfect repeater, monster footprint, and all boxes checked to effectively get every manor of ham budget on the air with us. Simply, it’s real expensive for a club. A guy like Steve Werner could break it down for us in real world terms from all aspects scientific and monetary if we were inclined to listen when gatherings resume…

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@W5ZQI Shane, I would be interested in a topic covering possible expansion of the BCRO system to include challenges both financial and technical. That would be a great learning opportunity and possibility for club expansion/growth.

@W5AAJ Scott, I am with you on this. A big part of this hobby is figuring out how to make what you have work to the best of its ability. I’ve actually enjoyed this part of things as I try to find the antenna position and mounting that gets the best results. I am also pretty particular about making sure i have a good signal with clear audio though so that I don’t cause more trouble for those listening than is worth. The only way I can get that right now is my higher power mobile unit. I’ll have a base station some day, but for now my focus was mobile so I could do field work.

My thoughts on this topic are more geared towards how we can best serve our community. That is also one reason I really like that the club has their own link system within Benton Co separate from the NWA Link. It gives us a great opportunity to host, or work, events on a county wide scale without crossing all of NWA or having to get creative with things for each event.

A couple of my thoughts about this thread. . .

  1. Repeater coverage - While we were still having meetings, some have brought up the idea of a DMR repeater to augment the BCRO repeaters. The current Fusion capability likely doesn’t get used much. Considering DMR and D-Star are the two heavy weights, it make more sense to go with one of those. However I have been questioning the need for a digital repeater for BCRO. I understand why we have the Fusion repeater so that’s water under the bridge. I get that digital voice is a shiny new thing. I have a DMR hotspot but never really use it. I think DMR is a cheap way to do digital voice but it’s like a hammer looking for a nail. Just my 2 cents. D-Star on the other hand was designed with Amateur radio in mind and makes more sense but the radios that use D-Star are typically more expensive and people like cheap. Which leads me back to why does BCRO need a digital repeater? Maybe considering another repeater to augment the current footprint would better utilize our limited resources. If DMR or D-Star could be gained for minimal cost while do that, then ok. But having simple FM linked repeaters isn’t a bad thing without digital.

  2. HT’s . . A while back I used to use my HT to hit repeaters around here . . .The antenna makes a world of difference. I used to sit outside on my deck with one of these hanging from a nail connected to my HT. http://www.n9tax.com/Slim%20Jim%20Info.html We need to elmer the new hams with HT’s that something like this would really increase their chances a lot. I have 2 of the ones that have 16ft of coax attached. Toss a string over a tree brach and pull it up. Add more coax . . .etc. etc. I finally put a Ed Fong antenna in my attic for a more permanent solution. Considering I live on a hill it works for me.

  3. An added thought . . . I started experimenting with my mobile rig’s ability to cross-band repeat. That way I could use an HT around the house at lower power, and still enjoy the higher power capability of my mobile rig. More to come on that later. . . My first attempt, I learned you have to be careful with the squelch setting otherwise you transmit static out through the repeater. :slight_smile:

Great Content, insightful thinking, and concentrated interest in this thread. Wayne and Elmer assistance to the Signally Challenged ( Obvious ) must always be aggressively activated within any radio club that cares to succeed… Repeater coverage under club ownership and administration must be very carefully considered, every watt, every db. every inch of elevation comes with dollar signs attached. Initial investment, periodic maintenance, etc. Will BCRO be a club that actually becomes truly active on FM and reap the benefits of financial output. I would part company with some cash, initially I would consider $ 1,000.00 of my money as an individual contribution to the greater good. Although, I sure enough must be convinced when I toss my call sign out there into the void there will be BCRO members enthusiastic about playing FM radio with me. All that I have stated is pure Captain Obvious. In closing I don’t see repeaters as like the Field of Dreams in which you build it and they will come, I see more of the, get them into current BCRO repeaters that are functioning at peak performance and then they enjoy us, join the club, and contribute to the building of BCRO footprint of FM greatness…

I have done this as well to get into the BCRO and old Saturday night Nets. It works perfectly (as long as I don’t time out my mobile lol), but is just an added step. We actually did this for Tour DeCure last year as well. We used my truck as the repeater for our HTs at our rest stop so that we could just run the small rubber duckies and low power.

Shane, you are right about the order of importance. We can’t expect a new operator to give a flip about a linked repeater system until they see what it can be used for. I know I have a few friends that are looking for those reliable signals listen to, and towers they may be able to hit from home, as the catalyst to push them over the hurdle of taking their test. (I know 4 people right now with cheap HTs who are just listening and feeling it out to see if they want to take the next step)

I would put some financial support behind this as well.

Greg has four friends / people listening on cheap HTs feeling it out to see if they want to take the next step. Shane has free hats and decals for 2020 new paid membership commitment. Let’s get them on the air from our licensed stations from home or Field Day in June. Or begin immediately encouraging them to log in to HamExam.org or equivalent to begin casual study. Shane will hand deliver new member applications and swag and collect dues if these folks are so inclined to join BCRO. If by chance they are ready to test, you can be sure our VE associates would be happy to assemble a small group with proper social distancing. I am certain Greg is already working on this, I am just posting a modicum of support here. I will help anyone of these people I can, except for kids unaccompanied by parents or guardians. This is off topic, but related to Greg KI5FAQ posting on this thread…

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I’m not sure a digital repeater is necessary. I do agree that if it can be gained at a minimal cost then it wouldn’t hurt. I like my DMR hotspot for the purposes being able to talk past local repeaters simply because my current home doesn’t allow antennas and I don’t have my general yet so no use for HF at this moment. I just use it as an augmentation or another mode.

I agree with this. While I’m capable of googling and self-learning, it would be much more beneficial to me to get some hands-on/experienced instruction, especially since it would be more efficient than aimlessly searching Google. In my case on the antenna though, I have to be careful because any external antenna or satellite dish is a violation of my lease agreement.

@KI5FAQ and I used this at Tour de Cure last year. It works well. The only downside for me is having to go out to my car which sometimes is parked pretty far away from my apartment.

Need a loop antenna in the apartment for FT8 and a Baby Tarheel on the vehicle. Best of both worlds. LOL

I’ve heard of loop antennas but I don’t know much about them. Also what the heck is a baby tar heel.

Ah! Well the magnetic loops take up little space. I may put one in my attic. They are great for stealth HF FT8 or CW contacts. Hide it away in your closet when done.

The Tarheels are arguably one of the best HF motorized antennas. It will tune any band, 7.0 to 54 MHz with the supplied whip.

https://www.tarheelantennas.com/baby_tarheel

The baby version looks nice on a sedan. LOL

Will do up to 6m. I assume you have a mag mount to throw on your car top for UHF :-).

Not a mag mount but yes I have an antenna on my car for UHF/VHF.

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Sorry, getting off topic here, but there you go. You’d have your repeaters covered. Plus HF with fairly simply antennas. Mag loops you can even build–look up Hula Hoop antennas. There are other motorized proprietary mobile antennas for specific radios, but the tarheel works with most, if I understand correctly, and gets great reviews. They are not cheap (around $500 and up) but considering they save you the expense of a tuner, that may weigh heavily in their favor.

With it and an HF rig in your vehicle you could also have some awesome 10m and 6m contacts seasonally.

I am seriously considering the “Little Tarheel” for our trailer.

73