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Last Updated August 15, 2012

 

 

Telephone Pioneers Amateur Radio Club


BC Digital Emergency Services Network

Welcome to the Telephone Pioneers Amateur Radio Club!

TPARC operates and maintains a HF/VHF/UHF ROSE switched packet amateur radio network in British Columbia that extends from the capital city of Victoria, through the Lower Mainland, up into the interior to Kamloops, and over to the North Okanagan at Vernon.

In the Lower Mainland, TPARC also operates a VHF and UHF linked voice repeater system on 145.170MHz (-600kHz) and 442.875MHz (+5MHz).

Please see the links at the left for more information.

TPARC is a registered Canadian charity. We accept all monetary donations, as well as in-kind donations of suitable hardware. Tax receipts will be issued, where applicable. Contact the TPARC President (see About Us for contact information) if you wish to make a donation.



Network Outage Alert

2012/07/11

Made it out to Hope (Dog Mountain) today and did a "quick-n-dirty" upgrade of the site to install the FPAC node and get it connected to the network.

Ran in to a few challenges, but overall got things working to the point were we have re-established connectivity to the Interior. Now the network is connected from Victoria, right through to Kamloops.

Hoping to get up to Silverstar around the long weekend in September.

2012/07/06

Went to Haney last night to try and figure out why the VHF and UHF drops are "deaf", and why VE7TPC has disappeared off the network.

Found the TNC facing VE7TPC locked up... suspect the same EPROM speed issue. Replaced both trunk EPROMS with faster devices to hopefully prevent that from happening in the future. Will hopefully do the same at VE7TPC next week.

Can't seem to see why the drop radios are deaf. Swept the antennas and everything looks okay. There is a little more loss in the VHF duplexer that I would like, but I was still able to see a test signal from my QTH at -65dBm (on VHF), more than plenty of signal... the TNC is just not decoding it.

Pulled both the VHF and UHF drop radios for re-testing to try and find the issue. So, there are presently no user services available at Haney (VE7HNY).

Hoping to get out to Dog next week and do a quick converstion on it to get back on the air.

2012/06/24

Well, it appears that the UHF Drop at Mt. Sicker still has some issues of its own. Looks like it is deaf for some reason. Will have to investigate why on the next trip over there.

The web site has been updated with the final network map, changes from the old ROSE network are highlighted in red. Note that the final network map shows what Hope and Silverstar will look like when they get converted (still pending).

Working on the "How-to" page now to get some updated instructions for how to perform common tasks.

2012/06/18

Looks like the issue between Mt. Sicker and Burnaby isn't as bad as first thought. Looks like the TNC at Burnaby, facing Mt. Sicker, didn't recover properly after a power outage (electrical work) on Friday night.

Power cycling the TNC restored the link (though we know the antenna at Mt. Sicker still has issues).

The failure to boot up properly is a known issue with the Spirit's running the KISS (SMACK) firmware, and has been observed before. It is likely due to the EPROMs currently installed being 70nS, when they should be <55nS. The EPROMs will be swapped out with OTP PROMs that are 45nS, which should prevent this from happening again.

So, the link is restored and working. That means we have connectivity from Victoria (VE7TPV-8) through to Chilliwack (VE7TPC-8).

Winlink is available at Victoria by connecting to VE7TPV-10, the calls will be forwarded to VE7TEL-10.

Winlink is available at Duncan by connecting to VE7TPS-10, the calls will be forwarded to VE7TEL-10.

2012/06/17

Mt. Sicker (Duncan) and Smith Hill (Victoria) were converted to FPAC yesterday.

Sicker is on the air as VE7TPS-8 and has had the VHF drop radio replaced with an ICOM, as well as had the UHF drop repeater replaced.

Smith Hill is on the air as VE7TPV-8 and had the VHF drop repeater replaced.

Unfortunately, it looks like the link antenna from Sicker back to Burnaby is bad (poor return loss), so that means it cannot currently talk to Burnaby, isloating the island. We are working with the site owners to get the antenna replaced ASAP.

This just leaves Hope and Silverstar to convert. Hope will "hopefully" happen in the next couple of weeks. Silverstar will happen later this summer.

2012/06/12

Converted the Greenstone site on Sunday night to FPAC. Still using the Tait VHF drop radio until an ICOM gets purchased as a replacement.

Did some rewiring and consolidating of equipment too.

This site is connected to Promontory with both a UHF and a high-speed wireless link now to provide route diversity between the two sites.

Greenstone is on the air on 144.470 as VE7TPK-8.

The network is still broken at Hope (Dog), until that site gets converted. Likewise, Silverstar is isolated until the snow finishes melting off the top.

Next stop is the island to convert Duncan and Victoria.

2012/06/10

Converted the Promontory site yesterday to FPAC and replaced the antique WR VHF drop radio with a new shiny ICOM IC-F5021. Promontory is on the air on 144.490 as VE7PTY-8.

We've got an ethernet link between Promontory and Greenstone that was installed last year during a site visit, so this is now in service (or will be) as the primary link between Promontory and Greenstone, with the UHF trunk as the backup.

Haven't made it to Hope (Dog) yet, so the network will be broken between Chilliwack and Merritt until that happens (hopefully very soon).

Will probably go to Greenstone today to at least get the site converted to FPAC, probably won't be able to get it fully rewired, and we still need to order a replacement drop radio for there.

2012/06/02

The VE7HNY VHF drop is back in service, it is a 1200 baud packet repeater, and connected to the VE7HNY-8 node.

The VE7TPC site has been fully converted to FPAC. The UHF Drop repeater was replaced with a new transparent repeater. The VHF drop radio which was an antique WR mobile has been replaced with a brand new ICOM IC-F5021.

As it stands right now, you can communicate between VE7TEL <-> VE7HNY <-> VE7TPC. The rest of the network on each end is isolated. Going to try loading modified configurations in the firmware ROSE switches to see if we can restore that connectivity.

The next sites to hopefully be converted will be Promontory and Greenstone, but Hope (Dog) will be delayed.

Current network map and some more instructions to be posted soon.

2012/06/01

The VE7TEL UHF drop is back in service. Like the other 1200 baud packet repeaters, it will transparently repeat any 1200 baud it hears. Set your radio to 443.425+ to use it. Connect to the FPAC node by calling VE7TEL-8 or use your Winlink client to connect to VE7TEL-10.

2012/05/31

The VE7TEL site has been mostly converted to FPAC. This breaks the network towards the island until we re-load the switches over there with a compatible configuration to talk to FPAC, or convert those sites (scheduled for later in June).

The VE7TEL UHF drop is presently not on the air (it should be installed tomorrow).

The VE7TEL VHF drop has been changed out, and the new radio supports transparent repeat for 1200 baud packet.

Winlink is accessible from the VHF machine by calling VE7TEL-10 directly (using 145.090+), or you should be able to call VE7SCC-10 since SCC is listening to the repeater (reverse split, as users of it will know).

To connect to the FPAC node, call VE7TEL-8 from a drop, or "c VE7TEL-8 v " from any other FPAC node on the network.

2012/05/29

The UHF drop at Haney is now on the air on the new network. The node's callsign is VE7HNY-8. Connect to it on its listed frequency, 443.075MHz+ (remember the split).

Winlink is now supported for testing on the TPARC network directly (through the FPAC nodes).

If you are testing on Haney UHF, connect to VE7HNY-10. This will automatically redirect your call to the VE7TEL-10 LinuxRMS server.

You can also connect to VE7TEL-10 v VE7HNY-8 to connect to VE7TEL-10 through Haney.

2012/05/28

We are getting very close to starting to cut over sites to FPAC switches, replacing the hardware ROSE switches we have in service.

With this network upgrade, there will be some outages involved. We will also be changing the SSID's of the user drops to make them compliant with the pseudo-standard used elsewhere in the world.

The VHF and UHF drop radios at VE7HNY are off the air (sort of). UHF should be back on the air shortly (as an FPAC node), and VHF will be back soon. The UHF Drop at VE7HNY should presently function as a 1200 baud repeater, the new radio installed supports repeating (not bit regeneration though). Think of it as a voice repeater for 1200 baud data. The UHF repeater will not respond to any callsigns at this time, and is effectively not connected to the TPARC network.

Network Upgrades

2012/05/28

Looks like we're finally ready to start replacing radios and switches (TNC's), to upgrade the network to a software-based back end running FPAC.

FPAC is a software implementation of ROSE that runs on Linux. You can see more about that project at http://fpac.googlecode.com.

We will be replacing the "stack" of TNC's running ROSE firmware at each site with an embedded computer running Linux/FPAC.

This will let us add redundant routes to the network, tunnel over the internet for faster speeds (when the internet is working), and easily add Winlink nodes and other features.

Over the coming month or so, the network will most likely be "broken" in various places as the upgrades proceed.

We'll try and update this page as sites are converted, and they come back online with their new callsigns/addresses.

The way the network operates will be very similar to the way it does today, but there will be some changes, new user instructions will be posted once we get underway.

1200 Baud Data Repeaters

As many long time TPARC network users will know, we pioneered the 1200 baud "bit regenerating repeater" back in the early 90's.

Over time, the modems used to provide this function have grown old and many have passed their bits on to the bit bucket.

As we go through and refresh the network, these dead regenerators will be replaced by transparent repeaters.

What is the difference, you ask?

The bit regenerator takes the packets from the receiver on the repeater, runs them through a modem (full duplex) to re-clock the bits, and sends the "cleaned up" packet to the transmitter. The advantage of doing this is that no matter what the repeater receives (ie deviation too high or too low from a user), as long as the modem can decode the packets, it will spit them back out at a known deviation to everyone else listening on the channel. The problem is that you need a true full duplex Bell 202 modem to implement this since it has to decode and encode at the same time so you can pass data "through" it.

The transparent repeater that is going in as a replacement is basically like a voice repeater, whatever it hears, it repeats. There is some logic that is thrown in there so that it will only repeat 1200 baud packet, though. While this is not an elegant solution, it is still effective in fighting the overall problem of the "hidden transmitter" that these repeaters were implemented for in the first place.

In our case, things are a little more complex, as we also want to have a node hanging off the repeater, using the receiver and transmitter.

This complicates some of the logic and requires some fancy audio path switching too so that everything can co-exist.

Once this first push of refreshing the network gets completed, and everything gets working with FPAC, we will re-visit the regeneration issue and develop a suitable replacement using currently available technology.

As far as using the transparent repeater, it is pretty straight forward. Anything you send to it (remember to use a split just like you would for a voice repeater) will be repeated on its output (1200 baud packets only). If you want to connect to the node at the repeater site, you would just call the callsign of the FPAC node (see the revised instructions for using the network to be posted soon).

Thank you for visiting!


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