British Columbia Frequency Modulation Communications Association
Welcome to the British Columbia Frequency Modulation Communications Association (BCFMCA). We are an Amateur Radio organization specializing in VHF, UHF, and microwave communications. We operate equipment in a variety of modes, including FM, DMR/MotoTRBO, IRLP (node 1694), and D-STAR. Please select one of the menu buttons on the left to find out more about us.
The BCFMCA is a registered charity with the Canada Revenue Agency. We accept all monetary and in-kind donations, and can issue tax receipts for donations over $25. We gladly accept charitable donations of estates from "silent-key" amateurs. Please see the "How to Reach Us" button on the left menu to get in touch with our Executive.
If you notice that the Power Status is "On Battery", please refrain from using the repeaters unless you have emergency or priority traffic.
More temperature telemetry is available here.
More power plant telemetry is available here.
BCFMCA AllStarLink Status
For REAL-TIME status of VE7RPT and VE7IRN (including LIVE voting receiver status), click here.
Listen live to the VE7RPT AllStarLink Hub on Broadcastify, or use the player below:
VE7RPT IRLP Status
Please see Events and News for more information.
VE7RPT UHF Interference Resolved
2022/05/06FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
After ongoing intermittent interference on VE7RPT-UHF, characterized by "kerchunks" or "squelch crashes", we believe the issue has finally been resolved.
The cause of the interference appears to have been due to a malfunctioning consumer OTA antenna amplifier, installed in an RV in Pitt Meadows.
You can read the full story here (.pdf download).
Many thanks to Dave Cameron, VE7LTD, for lending his expertise and knowledge to the fight to identify the source, to Ian Procyk, VE7HHS, and others that provided support.
Feel free to distribute this story to other interested parties, as it provides good awareness of a number of issues.
Seymour Unplanned Outage
Initially, this looked like it was a loss of backhaul to BCWARN. Further investigation showed that it was more serious, and all the repeaters were off the air.
VE7HHS, VE7LTD, and VE7FET responded to investigate. VE7LTD was on site first, and determined what appeared to be a cascading failure.
It would appear that we lost the 300W ICT inverter (old tired, likely shorted it's FETs). That powers all the IP backhaul infrastructure to BCWARN. It took out its 30A fuse in the fuse panel. By itself, that should have been no big deal, just resulting in the loss of IP services.
However, in addition to that, the 2x60A breakers on the rectifier shelf feeding the main DC buss also tripped. This effectively killed all DC power to everything, resulting in all the repeaters going off the air.
There is no plausible explanation for how/why that happened. We had a previous inverter fail in the same way (identical sister unit), and it only took out its own fuse. That would have been a serious fault to trip the 2x60A (parallel) breakers.
Initial discussions are now underway to revisit our DC plant design, and look at opportunities to provide better resiliency, as we have to replace some equipment anyways.
While on site, we also determined that we appear to have a GPS antenna problem, as the VOTER's are periodically losing GPS lock, as was the GPSDO. VE7LTD will, hopefully, try replacing that tomorrow.
On a positive note, we were able to realign the audio levels to/from IRLP, so they should be back to where they are supposed to be.
Rogue Operator Allstar Interference
Recently, we (and other local Allstar nodes) have been experiencing interferance from a rogue operator that is connecting RPT and other nodes to other random nodes all over North America.
This is causing unsoliticed traffic on our repeaters, interference on other systems, and confusion for a number of operators unaware of what is happening.
As a result, effective immediately, we have implemented restrictions on Allstar connections to/from the VE7RPT system. The outbound dialing code has been changed to one only available to members. For incoming connections, we have moved to a "whitelist" mode of operation, where only a specific list of pre-defined nodes are allowed to connect in. If the node is not on the list, the connection will fail.
It is unfortunate that we have had to take these measures, but it is the proper thing to do in order to protect the Allstar network and other system operators from this sort of abuse.
Going forward, we are deploying a network of remote RDF stations that will enable us to positively identify and locate rogue operators in real-time, to be forwarded to ISED for prosecution.
Access codes for members are available on the members only page or through the FAQ section on the new SMM membership management platform.
VE7FET and VE7FSR made a trip to VE7IRN today, for the last maintenance trip in before winter completely blocks access until the spring. About 2-3in of snow already on the ground.
Replaced a faulty UPS control card, restoring monitoring of the UPS.
Replaced the duplexer. The old Q202G looks like it was probably a "high band" duplexer that was re-tuned, but never had the harness changed. As such, it had excess loss (>2dB) in the ham band. It was replaced with a Sinclair Q3330E (equivalent), with about 1.2dB HP IL and 0.9dB LP IL. A definite improvement in coverage was noted during testing on the way home.
Installed security cameras on site, to monitor site and weather conditions.
VE7RPT Feature Update
The Autopatch and IRLP are once again available to members. Please see your email for the updated access codes and operating instructions.
In addition, you can now view operation of VE7RPT and VE7IRN in real-time. Head on over to http://allstar.bcfmca.bc.ca and check it out!
VE7RPT Now on AllStar
Well, after many long years of planning and testing, VE7RPT VHF and UHF have been moved off the RLC-3 controller and on to the AllStarLink network.
More details will be published on the changes to the repeaters in the coming days, however, at this time, the following should be noted:
You will also notice that courtesy tones and ID's sound different. There are still a bunch of configuration chages to make and test (can only do so much on the bench). That will (hopefully) be resolved in the coming days.
VE7IRN Back Online!
You can also check the AllStarLink page for the current Node Status.
On Friday, July 24, VE7FET and VE7FSR spent the better part of 20 hours getting the "new" VE7IRN installed and on the air, and linked to the internet through BCWARN, TPARC, and VE7CHW.
The existing antenna at VE7IRN was checked, and found to not really be an antenna in the ham band... so a temporary one was installed.
The duplexer still needs some work, but it is on the air, putting out about 20W after the duplexer.
The controller is part of the AllStarLink network, and is Node 435454.
Remote connectivity from Android/IOS/PC is available, for members only.
Still a bunch of tweaking to do, but at least it is alive! You should be able to work it from Larsen Hill to Helmer on the Coquihalla, and from Merritt to Penask Summit on the 97C.
VE7RPT Controller Change
As was discussed at the AGM, we will be transitioning away from the RLC-3 Controller used for the VE7RPT-VHF and UHF repeaters, and moving to an AllStarLink controller system (software based controller).
This change is expected happen in the coming weeks.There WILL be changes in how the repeater system operates, as well as how different functions are accessed.
Immediately after the transition, expect most things (autopatch, IRLP, courtesy tones) to NOT work as expected. There will be a period of time required to adjust settings, once we get it all up on the air. It is a bit of a nightmare trying to re-create how everything works on the bench, in a controlled environment... so we'll just get it installed, and work out the bugs.
We have been using the software controller in limited production on VE7RPT-220 for a few years now, and it has performed well. This will be a bigger beast, as we've got VHF and UHF to link/manage, as well as all the technology for voting receivers for both.
New features to look forward to, once we get everything online, include:
VE7RPT Intermod and Interference
Another trip to site and full days work with VE7FET, VE7HHS, and VA7ROH. More troubleshooting, antenna and transmission line sweeping, and moving the VE7LAN antenna to a different part of the tower.
Now, we wait and see how/if things improve at all.
Since our maintenance trip on June 20, VE7RPT-VHF has been experiencing intermod interference. This manifests itself as "echoing" feedback, sometimes mixed with voice. We know HOW this is happening, just not the WHY (yet).
The cause is a mix of the 146.940 transmitter (specifically, second harmonic 293.88MHz) and the VE7XL Echolink transmitter on 147.540. If you take 293.880 - 147.540 = 146.340... our input. The echo/reverb is a result of the audio delay in the repeater controller.
We are still trying to isolate the cause of the mix. It DOES appear to be related to the VE7LAN antenna system, which has since been turned down (off air) until we can isolate the problem.
Two subsequent maintenance trips (July 11 and 13) were unsuccessful in resolving the issue. The next trip is tentatively scheduled for July 19.
Note that the "auctioner sound track" QRM is un-related, and is malicious interference. RDF of the source is pending, which when identified, will be forwarded to the relevant authorities for further action.
It was also discovered on the July 13 maintenance visit, that the duplexer for VE7RPT-UHF has suffered a failure. A replacement has been procured, and is being tuned. It will likely be installed on July 19.
D-STAR Net Changes
Per Daryl Stout, WX4QZ:
"There apparently is some confusion as to "what happened to my nets". I had been doing some on Reflector 26A, but since it was "D-Star Only", and I could get more checkins by going to the QuadNet Array (D-Star, DMR, WIRES, and Fusion), I moved them there. Yet somehow, word on the change got lost in the shuffle.
While some of my other nets are on other reflectors already, the nets that were on Reflector 26A, are as follows... and information on The QuadNet Array is at www.openquad.net -- along with connection options via D-Star, DMR, WIRES, and System Fusion.
If you would please post a note out on this, I'd appreciate it."
VE7RPT Maintenance Trip
User reports from RPT-220 indicte there is an antenna issue. VE7HHS, VE7FET, and VA7ROH rolled up to have a look. Looks like winter took its toll, and the antenna clamps loosened off, causing the antenna to move off orientation.
HHS replaced the antenna clamps, and also removed some un-used microwave antennas off the tower... all in a June monsoon.
FET installed a GPS antenna to get the 10MHz reference oscillator online, as well as another camera. Still a bunch more work to do, but this was a busy enough day.
BCFMCA Acquires VE7IRN
It was recently made aware to us that the VE7IRN repeater on Iron Mountain outside of Merritt was "orhpaned". The callsign had no sponsor, it wasn't being actively maintained, and there were no trustees on file with the BCARCC.
One of the purposes of the Society is "to provide overarching communications, related equipment, services, infrastructure and technical assistance to any volunteer emergency communications programs within the Province of BC".
As such, after some discussion among the Executive other interested parties, it was determined that it would be in the best interest of the BCFMCA to expand our horizons, and adopt the VE7IRN repeater. It would ensure that this key repeater in the Nicola Valley can remain on the air, and available for use.
We will now begin the process of evaluating the existing equipment and determining a plan of action to move forward with integrating it in to our portfolio. Discussions are already being had about potentially linking it to VE7RPT, to provide expanded coverage for travelling operators.
Stay tuned for updates!
New VE7RPT-UHF Online!
Another historic day on Mt. Seymour. Following the turn down a little over a year ago of the Motorola Micor for VE7RPT-VHF, the last Micor on VE7RPT has been decommissioned.
Today, the Micor for VE7RPT-UHF was turned off, and replaced with a Motorola SLR5700 and Glenayre 100W amplifier, functionally the same as the package being used on the VHF machine.
For the time being, it is also connected to the RLC-3 Controller. Like the VHF repeater, the power amplifier is powered by AC, reducing the load on the DC battery plant. In the event of AC failure, and when the generator is not running, the repeater will revert to about 5W output through use of a transfer relay.
The transfer relay effectively switches the power amplifier OUT of the transmit path when it looses power, so that the exciter output (from the SLR5700) can be coupled directly to the duplexer (and then to the antenna).
Yes, it is that time of the year once again... indeed, it is time to renew your BCFMCA membership!
Renew on-line, it is simple and fast! Online we accept VISA and MASTERCARD for on-line payment through PayPal. Save a stamp! Renew right now!
Never been a member before? We'd love you have you show your support for amateur radio and volunteer emergency communications in the Lower Mainland! You can join right now! Click to start a membership application.
It is YOUR support that helps to maintain eight repeaters at one of the most sought after locations in the Lower Mainland!
Our webcams are now online for viewing live (<5 minutes old) images, and archives of up to the last 4 days.
See the webcam page for more details!
New VE7RPT-VHF Online!
A historic day today on Mt. Seymour. After more than 25 years in service, VE7RPT-VHF is no longer running on the Motorola Micor platform. Today, VE7FET replaced the Micor with a new Motorola SLR5700 repeater, coupled to a Glenayre 100W VHF PA.
This is one, of many, steps in upgrading our analog repeaters to some new technology. While the new repeater is currently (still) connected to the RLC-3 Controller, at some point (in the new year) it will get a new controller and also get upgraded to support receiver voting.
The Glenayre 100W PA lets us boost the output of the new Motorola repeater up to 100W, putting
about 65W up the coax, after the duplexer. This also allows us to unload some draw from the DC battery
plant, as the Glenayre PA is powered directly from AC (the Micor was all DC). In the event of AC
failure, the repeater will revert to 5W (approx) output.
Finally got around to updating our building move page with more pictures and information.
You can read the full story here.
As of late August 2013 we installed our first DMR/MotoTRBO repeater at the Mt Seymour site. This repeater now occupies the VE7RAG 443.400MHz frequency in place of the D-STAR repeater that used to occupy this frequency. D-STAR is still available on VE7RAG VHF and 1.2GHz.
We are excited to start experimenting with DMR technology as it utilizes TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) to accommodate two simultaneous data/voice streams on a single 12.5KHz channel.
The VE7RAG 443.400MHz repeater is also configured with internet linking using IPSC (IP Site Connect). This allows repeater users to connect to over 300 other DMR amateur radio repeaters around the world.
More information on the new DMR repeater can be found here.
Emergency Power Upgrade
We've done some major work on our emergency power system, replacing the batteries and charging system. You can read more about that project here.
The new equipment lets us easily gather remote telemetry/statistics, which you can see here.
You will notice on the top of this home page, you can see whether the equipment is running on AC or on battery. The status is effectively live (it is polled every minute), and is current when you load this page.
If you notice that the system is running on battery, please refrain from using the repeaters unless you have emergency or priority traffic.
We also have telemetry for temperatures inside and outside our building, which you can see here.
More ways to talk to the world!
We are node number 1694 on the IRLP network, and normally IRLP will be linked to VE7RPT-VHF and VE7RPT-UHF. Don't be surprised if you hear someone connect with a callsign from another part of the world!
Transmissions from the IRLP port can be identified by the CW "I" courtesy tone at the end of the calling party's transmission.
In order to "dial out" and connect VE7RPT to another IRLP node, you will need to be a BCFMCA member. More details on IRLP and our system can be found here.
NOTICE TO ALL MALICIOUS OPERATORS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 5, 2007
From: Greater Vancouver Amateur Radio Council (GVARC) Interference Committee
Months of hard work tracking various sources of malicious interference directed at the VE7RPT repeater, owned and operated by the BCFMCA and located on Mt Seymour, have finally begun to pay off.
On September 25th the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability, including fines totaling $7,000, to James Grinton, K7VNI, located in Bellingham Washington. A copy of this notice is attached for your information.
Grinton repeatedly and maliciously interfered with the operation of VE7RPT on a frequent basis. During the last 2 years Grinton directed his malicious interference and harassment at the President of the BCFMCA, jammed phone patches and periodically flooded the repeater with music and other forms of intentional interference.
In early 2006 a team of Canadian Hams began tracking the interfering signals and quickly determined they originated south of the Canada/US border. A group of Hams in the US were approached to provide assistance and the source of the interference was identified shortly thereafter. A number of independent confirmations were made to verify the location, the address of which was determined to be that of James Grinton, K7VNI.
A complaint was formally made to the FCC regarding this interference and the information collected by the combined Canadian and US tracking team was provided to the Seattle office of the FCC. An agent from the FCC Enforcement Bureau’s Seattle Office independently verified the location and source of the interference during late 2006 and a Warning of Interference to Communications Letter was sent to James Grinton, K7VNI, on January 19, 2007.
Grinton continued to interfere with the operation of VE7RPT after receipt of the warning letter. In fact, the Seattle agent recorded over 160 violations during the period January 19, 2007 to June 23, 2007.
A Notice of Apparent Liability, including fines totaling $7,000, was issued to James Grinton, K7VNI, on September 25, 2007 (see notice).
This is the second of a series of interference complaints affecting repeaters in the Greater Vancouver area to be brought to a conclusion. Additional interference investigations are on-going.
Many thanks to all the people who devoted countless hours tracking and identifying the source of this interference. This is an excellent example of the tremendous spirit of cooperation that exists between Amateur Radio operators in both Canada and the US. In addition, many thanks to the Seattle office of the FCC for their support and subsequent enforcement action.
Are You A Member?!
Membership is open to all licensed amateur radio operators.
If you are not a member, why wait? Join NOW! See here for details.
QRM is a problem, we all know that. We will try and locate possible sources of interference on the repeaters, but we need YOUR help.
Please submit a QRM report to the Directors so that we can try and locate the source. It is important to report it EVEN IF YOU DON'T HEAR the interference from your location when it occurs. Remember to listen to the INPUT of the repeater when listening for interference.
Don't think that your report has an effect? Well, see the press release above. James Grinton was busted by the co-ordinated efforts of a number of volunteers. All information reports are useful.
Are YOU causing QRM on our repeaters? Again, be warned, you never know who is lurking around your neighbourhood gathering evidence for prosecution. We've been at this at lot longer than you, and we're not going to let you destroy our resource... and we've got the law on OUR side.
Curious as to the coverage of some of our repeaters? Please see the Equipment page for more information.
Thank you for visiting our website and 73.
This page was last updated 06 May 2022.
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