New Link and other tech info
WHAT’S NEW ?
Glen Oaks and Selden are now linked over the internet using Allstar technology.
This full duplex implementation allows for stations to be heard from either end, even during those times when one repeater’s users may not be leaving space(time) for the other repeater’s users to get in.
We now have Allstar equipment on four of our FM repeaters, namely 146.85 in Glen Oaks, 147.375 in Selden, 449.125 in Plainview, and 449.075 in Middle Island.
In Middle Island, the Allstar node solely is acting as the controller. In the other three sites, control is accomplished by the SCOM 7330 (GlenOaks, Selden) or the ARCOM 210 (Plainview). These last three sites have the Allstar node attached to one of the three available controller ports.
Because we have a controller/Allstar combinations, it has been a challenge to get the courtesy tones configured correctly.
A good practice is to be able to recognize where the transmission is originating, and unique courtesy tones provide a way to identify the source.
You may have gotten used to recognizing the distinctive tones for Glen Oaks, Plainview, and Selden. You may not yet be familiar with Middle Islands courtesy tone, which is M I in Morse code.
So I have managed to replicate the tones we are used to, with minor variation.
ANOTHER FEATURE !! (I can’t take it !!)
The good news is that listeners on Echolink can now distinguish Glen Oaks from Selden, as these courtesy tones are carried to Echolink listeners in the same fashion as they are to listeners the linked repeaters.
There is an Echolink courtesy tone. It is three short ascending notes. Both Selden and Glen Oaks listeners will be able to hear them.
MORE WHINING 🙁
The only minor glitch is that when Selden or Glen Oaks key up, the other repeater will hear the usual tone, but accompanied by the Echolink tone as well. It is not a big deal and was a necessary compromise to get everything else working correctly.
So here’s how you interpret this. If you hear the Glen Oaks or Selden tone, they are the respective source, regardless of what else you may or may not hear.
In other words, ignore any Echolink tone you hear if it is accompanied by a repeater tone.
However, if you hear only the Echolink tone, unaccompanied, then the source of the transmission is Echolink. (and maybe an outside Allstar node, since Echolink now runs inside of Allstar in our implementation. Ugh)
WATCH OUT FOR EMP !
Folks have wondered whether we can fall back to the RF link for Glen Oaks and Selden, in an automated or remote methodology, in case the internet fails.
MORE PETTY EXCUSES…
The truth is, as the new system required a jumper change in a controller, along with some controller script changes, as well as physical cable swapping, this task will be challenging. So for now, the answer is no, but we have some ideas going forward to devise a switchover plan.
The success of courtesy tone assignments and Echolink availability require a specific way we link our nodes together. I will be reaching out to control operators instructing them on how to configure our nodes. I may also try to have the nodes attempt to reconfigure their connections autonomously.
ANOTHER FEATURE ?
In any event, in an emergency, we can mix or match our repeater connections for the four repeaters discussed so far.
The courtesy logic may or may not get whacked if we do this, but that is under review.
NOW AND FUTURE..
Currently, we have our vhf fm(Glen Oaks & Selden) repeaters linked together. Separately we have our uhf fm(Plainview and Middle Island) repeaters linked together.
At some point, perhaps when we put the new Middle Island antenna way up high on the tower, the consensus may be to use a different strategy; perhaps Glen Oaks to Middle Island for better Island wide coverage. Reconnecting to that configuration can be done on the fly right now. Work on courtesy tone integrity to support such a change is underway.
Remember, we want to hear the correct tone at every location.