Assisting in the maintenance of VK6RAV.

Published in the WANSAC (Western & Northern Suburbs Amateur Radio Club) monthly club magazine  Vol 39 Issue July 2008


VK6RAV - Avon Valley Repeater Maintenance by Peter Miles

VK6RAV Repeater working bee - June 2008From our home in Northam, Western Australia I have access to only one repeater, VK6RAV a simple converted Philips FM880 2mtr band device located on Crowsnest Hill about 10km out of town. Ever since I have resided in Northam this has been my main access to amateur radio. Unfortunately the repeater suffers from periods of an odd RF feedback that holds the repeater open until it times out and produces a very annoying howling sound.

The repeater has good coverage of the Avon Valley including Northam and a half dozen other towns and is an important link for the sparsely scattered amateur community. But this intermittent fault means that it is often unpleasant to monitor the repeater when it throws one of its wobbles which can last for days, resulting in little activity on the device.

My first VK6RAV contact was shortly after moving to Northam, I was driving when I heard someone calling on the repeater on my Icon IC-W2A on the floor of the car. I quickly stopped the car and put out a call. The response came back VK3YE train mobile near Northam. My first contact was Peter Parker (VK3YE). I chatted with Peter for about twenty minutes as his train passed through the Avon Valley on route to Perth . It is a small world!

My first local contact was Jim (VK6CA) shortly after the Peter Parker contact. I was later invited by Jim to attend a repeater working bee on June 7, 2008 with the aim of replacing the antenna as this was the only part of the repeater installation that had not been attended to as a means to resolving the fault.

This job required at least six people to manage the guy wires and mast winch for the antenna mast lowering, we had eight of the local amateurs there on the day.

I was there in a heat-beat as this was a great opportunity to meet some/most of the hams from the Avon Valley area.

The job was also fun as I did get to climb the tower and feel like I was contributing a bit to my new community.

While the antenna replacement was a bit of a long shot we gained some confidence when we found corrosion and oxidization in the antenna and antenna connection. The N connector at the antenna end of the coax rotated freely, not a sign of a good connection. The theory was that perhaps a strong local broadcast of similar signal was producing harmonics and or inter-mods within the connections and was then somehow affecting the repeater. What ever it was it was very marginal and very intermittent, the worst kind of fault.

Typically while the work went relatively smoothly it took a bit longer than anticipated and the tower was finally wound back into position well into the dark.

Unfortunately the antenna replace has not fixed the problem. We had about four days of faultless operation and then for about an hour on one afternoon the fault returned. It was always a long shot and its now back to the old drawing board!

There is antidotal evidence from Barrie (VK6ADI) that the repeaters coverage has been improved as he has noted that a number of weak coverage spots are now workable, so the work was not a complete loss.

Repeater details if you are in this part of the world are;





Coverage Area   






Crowsnest Hill

Avon Valley



This site is about 10 km North East of Northam, which is about 80 km East of Perth. The site is located on a wheat farming property on a small hill known as Crowsnest Hill about 90m above the average terrain. 

The VK6RAV is operated by the West Australia Repeater Group. http://www.warg.org.au


See current operational details of local repeater VK6RAV


Page last revised 09 June 2008 


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