We’ve not had either of the IRLP nodes on the air much because of the heat. Our problem is that our nodes are computers and they cannot run in hot temperatures. Unfortunately they are being stored at the repeater site in an un-air conditioned building where temperatures exceed 120 degrees. No computer can be expected to run in that environment for very long.
We have two choices on IRLP and repeater connections. The most desirable is to hard wire the IRLP node directly to the repeater controller and that is how they are currently hooked up. The other option is to connect the IRLP node to a radio that transmits the signal to the repeater remotely. There are pros and cons for both scenarios and we need to decide what is most important.
Option one, the current method has the IRLP node, audio and control connected via wires and has the benefit of clearer audio and more control over the system. When I say control, I mean, the node radio cannot be over-powered by someone with a powerful radio to jam the system preventing the control operator from being able to disconnect the nodes. This use to be a big problem but now is not so much because each node has the ability to be controlled over the Internet via a computer, tablet or even a phone. This makes control problems a non issue. Direct connection has the negative side of the IRLP node must be very close to the repeater. This limits the environment of the IRLP node computer to the hot or cold storage building at the repeater site. It is not feasible to air condition or heat this building 24 hours a day. On the other hand, option two, where you hook up the IRLP node to a node radio and transmit the audio to the repeater has a slight reduction in the audio fidelity. It has the benefit of locating the IRLP node to a more desirable location, for example, in someone’s air conditioned house.
What we need to decide is what is more important. Is high fidelity audio more important or is having the node online more important? We’ve already had node 8440, 443.3 MHz node shut itself down due to heat. For this reason, W5QO has been turning the nodes off during the day when it gets hot. Soon, I (K5GLH) will be moving into a house where I will be close to the repeater site. It will be an option that I could move a node or even both to my house where they run remotely in an air conditioned environment. The down side to that is that we will have to buy some node radios and we don’t have the money for that at the moment. I have to use what money I have to get moved and then have a storm shelter installed. Then I am going to start saving to have another tower put up at my house.
This is what W5QO, myself and KG5HWT have been pondering. If we want to leave the nodes on long term, then relocating them is the likely choice. Again, this will mean that we need to buy two node radios.
IRLP group has them you can buy for about $100.00 to $200.00 a piece, with programming and cables built, but that will take some time to raise the money.
I am curious to know people’s thoughts on what is more important. Availability or clearest audio? I am just throwing this out there for thought.