Repeater Visit June 18, 2016

The purpose of this visit was to remove our old solar panels and make preparations for installing new panels. We also wanted to bring down the repeater in order to switch to a new Arcom controller. On this trip we had Tim, KE7TAC, Cameron, AF7DK, and Dale, K7FW.

The main word to describe this trip is MOUSE (or more precisely MICE). But more about that later....

We started up the mountain at 9 AM. They weather was not bad at sea level but the mountain top was shrouded in fog. We did see some nice views on the way up. Looking north west we had a nice view of Arch Cape.

And a looking back a bit to the southwest a view of the ocean and logged area.

As we got higher we encountered fog and also  couple rocks that needed to be moved. In this photo Cameron (left) has already moved a rock a bit smaller than the one seen on the right side of the photo next to Tim. He said something about needing a good pry bar to move that larger rock.

In the winter the sun is quite low on the horizon, about 21 degrees at solar noon in mid-December. I wanted to get an idea if the nearby trees were going to cast shadows on the panels. Cameron, left, is recording angle to horizon measurements estimated by Dale. Our old panels where somewhat split between the ideal due south position with the panel on the right being a bit east of true south and the panel on the left being a bit west of due south. The new panels will face south. We should be safe from winter shadows now however there are trees growing to the south that could cause problems with winter shading in future years.

Here are a couple views from the repeater site looking due south. Tim is holding a stick at what represents due south from the side of the repeater building. This photo taken while standing on the east side of the building.

And another photo taken from the west side of the building.

Tim and Cameron have removed the panels that were facing southeast. Here they are removing the panels facing southwest.

The pressure treated wood has held up reasonably well. It will all be replaced when we build frames for the new panels. We need to use all stainless hardware when building the new frames. One past failure was due to screws rusting.

Cameron and Tim spent their time removing panels. Meanwhile Dale was removing the existing repeater so that it could be brought down for some upgrades. Unfortunately our building had an entry point for mice and they decided to move in. The inside is quite smelly and has a lot of torn up fiberglass insulation and mouse droppings that need to be removed. Some serious clean up will be needed on the next trip as well as permanently sealing a couple entry holes. The main entry hole was the left vent on the side of the building which can be seen in the photo above. There is another hole near the top that was used to run the power cables from panels into the building. We did our best to temporarily plug the holes.

There were a lot of mice running around the inside of the building once I began disturbing their nesting site which was inside the case holding components of the repeater. Here is one of them.

The cabinet housing repeater radios and controller was open at the back. The mice used this as one of their two main nesting sites. There was some fiberglass insulation in the building, I think stuffed around the area where some vent holds had been placed. There is no trace of that left, it all having been used as nesting material. The repeater controller board is a bare circuit board placed in a metal box with no lid. That was stuffed full of insulation as was the bottom of the metal cabinet. Fortunately we plan to replace the controller. After having mice living on top of the old controller board I doubt that it works. The 2 meter radios are housed in metal boxes as RF shielding so they will be fine, although the metal cases will need a good cleaning. In the future we need to place all our equipment inside mouse-proof containers to make sure that if mice do manage to get inside the equipment is protected. Of course we also need to make sure the building has no entry points available for mice.

This is a view of the repeater case. I disconnected the cables and carried it outside and then dumped out the insulation. Four or five mice ran out of the pile of insulation.

We are now ready to begin work on a support structure for the new panels.

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