OVH D-STAR and 220 repeaters are back on the air

Last year,  NOVEC rearranged  the ac power feed to our repeaters hosted at their Lomond Drive location.    When lightning stuck the NOVEC tower next to our repeater shack, some of our equipment was damaged.  Here is the damage that Ken, KE2N found :

  • The D-STAR gateway computer had failed (power supply)
  • The mini-PC we were using for 224.66 Asterisk had failed (judged not repairable)
  • The USB audio interface for 224.66 had failed
  • The aux port on the 224.66 repeater had failed.
  • The existing ac power surge arrester (20+ years old) had both of its “healthy” lamps off

Ken found the reasons for why we suffered lightning damage:

What I observed was that NOVEC had re-arranged our power feed since my last visit.  The feeder cable (previously underground) was now in a plastic conduit running in an overhead cable tray, adjacent to various large cables coming down from the microwave dishes on the tower. NOVEC’s cables and our feeder run in opposite directions, so that current induced in our feeder cable is opposite in polarity to current coming down from the tower and our coax cables.

And the new panel feeding our equipment had no grounding electrode connection. The only ground source was at the far end of the aforementioned cable tray.

I spoke with NOVEC about changing this feed arrangement, but they were disinclined to make any changes.

Our D-STAR was no longer connected to the internet. Hams could not register for D-STAR on W4OVH because of damage to the D-STAR computer.  In addition, our new 220 Bridgecom repeater was damaged and had to be sent to Missouri for repairs.
(Editor’s Note: the 224.66 repeater IS the new 220 Bridgecom repeater. It’s just easier to say.)

The virus complicated access and delayed repairs.

On April 21,   Ken, KE2N;  Gil, KM4OZH and John, KG4NXT went to NOVEC and worked on repairs. Gil, KM4OZH comes from a family of electrical contractors and helped with installing and routing the grounding wires.  Here is what was done:

  • Added a bonding connection between our antenna’s incoming common-ground bus bar and the ground terminals on the power panel (3x#10 cu).
  • Added a high-capacity surge arrester to a spare breaker at the power panel
  • Reinstalled the D-STAR Gateway PC which has a new ATX power supply
  • Installed a new Raspberry Pi with new USB audio interface for Asterisk linking
  • Inserted two Ethernet isolator devices in the local LAN
  • Inserted one USB isolator device for the USB audio interface.
  • Re-installed the 220 repeater, which had been repaired and fully checked out by Bridgecom

As a result,  we have our D-STAR back on the internet. The 220 repeater is back and will be linked up for the Thursday night net.

We thank Ken, KE2N for his able help in getting us back and also preparing us for the next lightning strike.

Ken KE2N links up repaired 220 repeater
Ken, KE2N links up repaired 220 repeater
Gil KM4OZH works on add ground wires to subpanel. New surge supressor blinking green to his left
Gil, KM4OZH works to add ground wires to the subpanel. The new surge suppressor with green lights  is to his left



Leave a Comment