Saturday, June 6, 2009

D-Star Work at the Pembroke KJ4GGV Repeater Site

We are very fortunate to have a D-Star system located fairly close to Savannah at the WVAN transmitter site in Pembroke. The Statesboro Amateur Radio Society has done a great job of learning and maintaining the system since it was installed last year. There have been some issues over the past few months with the Internet connectivity, which of course is what enables all of the D-Star systems to connect to one another. The guys suspected it might be a bad router this time so I volunteered to go out there with them to take a look since I had a spare router that I wasn't using. So I met Bob-KI4YRY and Larry-W4RA out at the WVAN tower Friday afternoon to take a look. We quickly found that the Internet router was dead. As in, won't even power up dead. I connected my router and began to program it to connect to the Internet via the Pembroke Telephone Company DSL modem. No joy. Called the help desk folks at the phone company to determine what type of authentication we need to configure for. Found out it was PPPoE which uses a telco provided username and password. She gave them to me and I configed the router accordingly. Still not syncing up to the Internet. Couldn't connect directly with the laptop either so we began to suspect the modem. The rep on the helpdesk dispatched a tech to come out and take a look. He was onsite with a new modem in about an hour. Don't expect that kind of response in Savannah! Gotta love small towns. Well, we installed the new modem, recycled the router and boom, we're on the Internet. Good stuff. While we were waiting on the tech to arrive we got the go ahead to run an ethernet cable from the DSL modem directly to the D-Star gateway. This is huge as it eliminates the need to connect from the modem to the gateway using Wireless LAN with two routers needed. Plus this would take away one more potential point of failure. We found about a 100 foot cable and began to plan how we would route it thru the facility. Easier said than done. In a totally different room about 50 feet apart in a building with cinder block walls! Well, I managed to find a suitable route after climbing around a little. We ran the cable and connected the gateway directly to the Internet router. Next, we ran into another problem. Whatever had killed the DSL modem and the #1 router also scrambled the brains of the #2 router which was connected to the gateway. Great. So Bob called his contact in Atlanta and he told me all the settings that I needed to re-configure the router for the D-Star gateway to connect to the network. Once I got it all configured and ready to go I made sure to save the config file to my laptop so that we'll have it in the future in case we ever need to re-program the router again. That will save alot of time. Once the config was complete we verified that the gateway could be seen as active via the Internet. We weren't able to get a good link established to another node or to the reflector cause no one was available that knows how to do that. So we packed everything up and decided that was enough for one day. Got alot accomplished and we should be better positioned going forward. We'll see how it goes. I sure enjoyed visiting the repeater site and getting a chance to play around with things a little. Thanks to Bob-KI4YRY and Larry-W4RA for letting me tag along.

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