Long Term Solutions

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.

Thank you,
Paul, K5GLH

9 responses to “Long Term Solutions”

  1. I left you an e-mail regarding this. If there is anything I can do or to contribute to help keep the nodes up long term, please let me know. It the node radios are $100 to $200, I would be willin to greatly contribute and offer any help with a solution. Thanks.

    1. Paul L. McCord Jr. Avatar
      Paul L. McCord Jr.

      Good morning Mike. I got your email and I appreciate the offer. When we get closer to being able to do something, then we can talk about it. This is just one of the reasons that we never have the nodes on.

  2. I almost wonder if a different laptop would be useful. I use Toughbooks pretty often and apparently they have an operational range from -20F to 140F. I’ve actually used them under the 20F mark because mine have hard drive heaters built in. I don’t know how much procesing power the nodes require, but I would imagine a toughbook like the CF-29 running XP/linux would have no trouble. Best part is, you can get them for ~$50 with only a battery, and buy the hard drive/charger and optional ram addon.

    Here’s a collection I threw together on Ebay for a price estimate. http://www.ebay.com/cln/vbnalex/CF-29/216214093013

    I also have a 29 that I replaced with a CF-30 too, but I haven’t done too much stress testing on it, other than a waterproof test!

    Anyway, good luck whichever route you go!

    1. Paul L. McCord Jr. Avatar
      Paul L. McCord Jr.

      Good morning Alex,

      I am not familiar with those laptops but I will look them up to read about them. It really is frustrating that the repeater site is so hot. Yesterday, John, K7JKZ wanted to use the node to call into a net and we had it turned off. We were willing to turn it back on but he said not to worry about it. This has been an issue for a long time.

      1. The series is pretty neat. They make them pretty backwards compatible. The CF-29 has 1 RS-232 Serial port, 1 Printer port, 1 USB port, 2 PC Card slots, 1 Microphone port, 1 audio out port, VGA out, Modem, Ethernet, WiFi and some models, even a touchscreen. Also other than the hard drive, there are no moving parts, so they are all very quiet and rugged.

        If you’d like, I’d be happy to let you guys have my unused one. It’s just sitting and collecting dust honestly, and I’d rather it get put to good use. I put it together for a really low price so I’m not attached to it at all. I’d be interested to see how it works in extreme temperature too, especially since they advertise it that way. It has Debian on it currently, but I could easily put XP on it, so let me know if you’d be interested to try it!

  3. Paul L. McCord Jr. Avatar
    Paul L. McCord Jr.

    Alex, we have not forgotten you. We will not be making these changes until after I move into the house in a couple weeks. Thank you again,


    1. Don’t sweat it Paul, just message me whenever you want it.

  4. i would love to put one up at my house, but i dunno what all is needed, can any radio be used for a node radio? i have an unused alinco dual band with a “ingeneered” power switch.

  5. Paul L. McCord Jr. Avatar
    Paul L. McCord Jr.

    Hello Corey,

    One of the reasons that we tend to lean toward using old commercial radios is because they can run 24 hours a day and endure the hard use. Many times the amateur radios that we buy are great for the occasional use that we do. If we are connected to a reflector that has a lot of traffic for hours on end, it puts a lot of stress on the radio.

    I appreciate the offer. We are not going to do anything until after I get moved in a couple weeks. Currently I have all of my finances set toward the move and installing a storm shelter. Then I am going to start saving for a tower. Honestly, I think some of this can be resolved by putting the node in my new house because it is only two miles from the repeater site. Once I get a radio installed on it where it can transmit to the repeater, we’ll be all set.

    Alex, KG5HYC has offered a computer that was built to run in extreme heat and cold to try on the other node. I am not sure how well it will work but it won’t hurt to try. We are open to try new things.

    Paul, K5GLH

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