Jersey two metre Repeater - GB3GJ
Jersey has had an amateur radio repeater for a number of years operating on the 2 metre FM VHF amateur band on 145.650MHz but this has been inoperable for the last few years requiring a major overhaul and potentially even replacement.
Jersey is not a big island (approx. 9 miles x 5 miles) and due to the nature of its topography as well as its geology (being composed substantially of granite) local radio communications can be hampered. This has the affect that amateurs from nearby towns, villages and outlying areas can find local communication challenging. This has been particularly evident on the Sunday morning after news net when some of the local amateurs find participation difficult or even impossible. Whilst the provision of a new repeater will not necessarily guarantee total coverage of the island it is felt that the reinstatement of such a useful facility is essential.
What had originally been offered as a free site for the repeater antenna on the new Jersey Water Westmount communications tower and for the repeater equipment in an adjoining storage building had always been on the basis that we were there for as long as the mast had the capacity. If however a paying user wanted the space it would mean the repeater being displaced and a new site would have to be found. Well that was all fine and after discussion within the repeater group had been agreed as we were of course being given free use of the site.
This all changed in July 2009 however when the group were informed (just as they were about to lodge a planning application for the new antenna with Planning and Development) that we would need to pay for a structural analysis to confirm the wind loading of our new antenna would not unduly compromise the tower (this is we understand a normal requirement) and that the fee for this would be £750. To add insult to injury we were then informed that we would need to enter into a lease for our siting of the repeater (despite our not being required to pay any rent) and that this would represent in the region of another £1000. Well that was pretty much the final straw, this represented slightly more money than the repeater group had available in the bank and effectively meant we would have to start over with fund raising to be able to purchase the cavities, the repeater controller and the antenna as well as any sundry items.
The original site at Westmount fell through when the provider indicated the costs that the repeater group would be expected to meet in terms of obtaining loading calculations for the mast, agreeing a lease and other associated matters.
Thanks to Mike GJ0PDJ providing some much needed assistance a new site at Queens Road was secured on the Jersey Electricity Companies building.
Peter GJ8PVL and Rob MJ0RZD met with the JEC to discuss the possibility of siting the repeater at their Queens Road site in March 2010 and this was ultimately agreed and the project was underway once more.
It was agreed that the JEC will provide a power connection and a position on the existing mast for the antenna as well as a location at roof level for the equipment free of charge. Whilst we will not have security of tenure (in other words if someone else needs the space they will get preference) we have a site for the foreseeable future. So once again we are into scrounging whatever we can to get things underway so anyone who can lend us there time and assistance will be gratefully received. We have already ‘scrounged’ the power supply (see above), the feeder (promised by Airtel) and the cable tray we will need (promised by Aston Services) and will need to chase up one or two other items. If you think you can help please talk to any of the repeater group committee (GJ8PVL, MJ0RZD, MJ1CYD, GJ7DNI, 2J0SZI, MJ0SIT, MJ0JER) or email the newsletter.
In the meantime Phil MJ0JER took delivery of and set up the repeater unit, the cavities were ordered from Finland and the antenna and lightning protection from Radio Structures in the UK.
The repeater operates as follows:
CTCSS: 'B' (71.9Hz)
Early summer 2010 and it had been a really busy couple of months for the repeater group and at long last we were on air.
Rob was ‘on the scrounge’ again and we managed to obtain help and assistance from the following without whom the formation of a watertight equipment box and the associated on site work would not have been possible:
· Tim Ruane of T.M. Ruane building Contractors (timber and shuttering plywood),
· Rob Panelli of Aston Electrical Services (cable tray, Unistrut and associated fittings and components),
· David Foley of Brady and Gallagher (air conditioning unit mounting bracket),
· Rob of Alwitra Roofing (single ply membrane covering to equipment box),
· Lawrence of Fetch and Karrie (craning the box onto the roof)
· Dave Robinson (JEC providing induction courses and access point of contact).
Thank you also to the group members who have not only given so freely of their time and particular talents to help with the construction of the box and the installation of the cable tray and box on site but also to those members who have once again put their hand in their pocket to keep the group account in credit as well as to purchase the various components and items needed to bring everything forward to its current state. Particular thanks are due to Mike PDJ, Mike SZI, Chris CMB, Steve (SWL), Joe (SWL), Rob RZD, Andy JHF, Steeve DNI and of course Peter PVL.
Friday 4th June 2010 and an initial ‘on air’ test was carried out from La Moye as a temporary location to ensure that the repeater unit, the cavities and the antenna were all fully functional.
"This is GB3GJ repeater in the Channel Island of Jersey...,"
Saturday 19th June 2010 at 4pm the new repeater was activated after a successful work party installed the antenna and feeder and the final connections were made. Since then we have been pleased to find that the repeater has superb coverage reaching into even the remotest nooks and crannies of the island and is also a solid signal into nearby Guernsey. Signal reports are being welcomed from far and near and we look forward to many years use of the new repeater.
UPDATE: Good access is possible into GB3GJ from the south coast of the UK as far Exeter and even up onto Exmoor, there are call ins from nearby Normandy and into Brittany to the south with St. Malo not a problem and a clear sea path to St. Brieuc to the South West.
Tait TB7100 repeater unit and the new cavities (obtained from Finland) in the repeater groups purpose made equipment housing.
It may 'only' be a white stick but it makes all the difference to communication in the island.