The Retevis 97S has been replaced with a Motorola GR500 running at 20 watts, and the antenna was moved to 50 feet AGL (from the front; from the back it is 30 feet AGL).
The GR500 is a 25/45-watt unit and generates 20/35 watts in low and high-power modes after the duplexer. Testing so far reveals that there isn’t much difference distance wise between 20 watts and 35 watts, so the repeater will operation in low power mode. Operating in low power also saves the final power amplifier from burning out, as the repeater can run at 100% duty cycle at low power.
The repeater is linked into the PA GMRS Network, which has also undergone some serious changes. Hop over there and take a look.
The Retevis 97s will be relegated to emergency and on the road use with a portable antenna system. It will be linked into the PA GMRS Network with a new node number as needed.
Over the past two days, I’ve noticed that the repeater is barely putting out a signal, along with some noise issues. I moved the repeater away from the antenna and grounded it, which caused the noise to stop, but the range has not improved. I know its keying up from testing I’ve done, but I’m still not getting a good output range from it.
My next step is to change out the antenna. I was using a feedline j-pole antenna which really isn’t meant to be outside in weather unless in is encased or is waterproofed. I will probably change it out for a copper pipe j-pole on an extending pole in the next few days,
UPDATE: I changed out the antenna this morning, and tested it on the way to work this evening. Same results, except the repeater receives better now. But it still doesn’t seem to transmit more than a few hundred feet. Next step is to change the frequency to see if its interference causing a problem. If it isn’t, I suspect the final amplifier may have burned out and I certainly hope it isn’t that.
UPDATE #2 (11/18/22): Changing out the antenna only helped marginally. I checked the output of the repeater and it was right where it should be. So I checked the output frequency, and sure enough, there was all sorts of interference going on.
I changed the frequency back to 462.550, only to find that there is another repeater somewhere in York or Adams County that is not listed on any of the GMRS websites and does not have an identifier on it transmitting so strongly I could not get into my own repeater. So my choices were to move it to 462.600 again, or up to 462.675. As there seems to be a lot of interference coming from other RF devices near me, I moved it up to 462.675. Its been very quiet since then. I’ll test it so more tonight as weather permits.
I also left the copper j-pole antenna connected, but moved it to the east side of the building to get it above the roofline. I’m hoping that will help a little as well with coverage.
The repeater went through a frequency change due to possibility I was interfering with another repeater. The new frequency is 462.600 +5 PL 103.5.
The Pennsylvania GMRS Network is alive and working well through the GMRS Live system. I have set up the repeater, the two simplex nodes, and the radio-less hotspot to connect to the Southcentral Pennsylvania hub automatically.