Welcome to JARA

Robert “Mac” B. McConnell, WØROO SK

Robert “Mac” McConnell, WØROO, would always sign off from “Lake Jarbalo”.  There is a Jarbalo, Kansas; a postage stamp size town near the bottoms of the frequently flooded Stranger Creek.  When the creek is high, it literally looks like a lake in some places.  Mac had a friendly voice, was a fun-loving radio operator, and great mentor.

Mac – WØROO in his “Mad Scientist” pose.

In his honor, we are carrying on the Jarbalo Amateur Radio Association (JARA) and keeping the UHF Repeater operating that long bore his callsign.

As of July 2015, the repeater is operating atop Saint John Hospital in Leavenworth, Kansas.  Specifics can be read on Repeater Book.  Here is a synopsis:

Frequencies: 444.800+  PL: 151.4 Hz
Power: 35 watts
Call: W0ROO/R
Radio: Yaesu DR-2X C4FM “Fusion” Repeater

C4FM Net: Join us each Sunday evening at 7 pm Central for the weekly JARA UHF Equipment test net in association with the Pilot Knob Amateur Radio Club, Leavenworth County ARES, RACES, and KC Heart.

N E W S  See Additional News Below

Survey Says?

We’ve been addressing Yaesu Fusion C4FM topics every Sunday evening since June 7, 2020. Seems we’ve covered everything, so a survey of net participants was sent out and results reviewed on our January 31st net.
Results of the Survey

The predominate topics to be addressed on future nets are:

  • Wires-X (any aspect)
  • Firmware Updates
  • Simplex Operations using Fusion
  • Creative Memory Usage
  • Data Port Use
  • Back-Ups and Programming Software

The most popular radio is the FTM-400 series closely followed by the FTM-100DR. Between the 9 respondents, there were 32 Fusion-capable radios. That’s 3.5 radios per person.

Rick-NJØP remains a popular net control station for the Sunday UHF Fusion net. The net is fast-moving but that must be part of the popularity. We run an on-time railroad.

JARA Hosts Buffalo Chip Net!

An authentic Buffalo Chip

Now that the VHF side of the repeater (145.33/- 151.4 Hz) is up and operating, the first net of the year will take place starting at the stroke of midnight, January 1, 2021 on our repeater. For nearly fourty years, the NØKOA repeater, located at the David Funeral Chapel in Leavenworth, hosted the Annual Buffalo Chip Net (BCN), the first net of the year. Davis Moulden, WBØYNE, SK, was the originator of the net and conservator of the 145.33 repeater which was a Leavenworth mainstay. Over time, the health of the repeater declined in proportion to its keeper. Recently, the repeater remnants have been transferred to the Jarbalo Amateur Radio Assn (JARA) and now co-located with our VHF repeater. We hope to once again have the huge turn-out we once enjoyed for the annual BCN. Please help us get the word out.

Note: JARA members are asked to avoid use of the UHF repeater during the BCN. The repeaters share a single transmitter and the UHF repeater is priority due to its interconnection to WIRES-X.

December Enhancements

Dave-K0AVN, Gary-W0MNA, Vic-KE0SYO, Randy-KF0AWW, and Rick-NJ0P met on Saturday morning, December 5th to move the 145.33 FM repeater from David Funeral Chapel to Saint John Hospital (SJH). That repeater is now on the air at SJH with the following parameters:
Frequencies: 145.33/144.73
Tone: 151.4 Hz
Power: 25 Watts
Antenna: 5-element loop antenna, tower-mounted
Priority: Shared/secondary transmitter with UHF Rptr
Mode: FM or C4FM DN or VW in. FM-only out.

We still have testing and enhancements yet to do, but for now the 40-year old 145.33 repeater has been given a new lease on life. We have a 1 sec squelch tail on the VHF side so you can check signal strength.

The UHF repeater received a new transmitter antenna. Gone is the old dual-bander home station antenna. New is the Hustler G6 one-piece heavy-duty single-band UHF repeater antenna. Early indications are that the transmit signal is the best yet.

Maintenance Complete

On Thursday, October 22, 2020, the Trustee completed fall maintenance of the repeater. Services included:

Labeled hardline down lead
  • Replaced temporary patch cables and adapters with rugged custom cables.
  • Replaced temporary PL259 lightning arrestor with new N-connector version.
  • Labeled down feeds for easier inventory.
  • Checked all grounds and tightened all connectors.
  • Disassembled and cleaned repeater interior (esp. fans and cooling fins).
  • Checked repeater settings and set display/sound off.

We still need the following enhancements:

  • UPS (Needs to be an AC system. Repeater will not charge a battery.)
  • Replacement transmit antenna: Rigid, one-piece, high gain.
Repeater at bottom under packet and voice radios.
Transmit Antenna

New Receive Antenna

October 10. 2020. Your JARA President and Trustee, along with PKARC President and one supervisory parent made the trek skyward and added the new Workman UVS-200 U/VHF antenna to the top of the St. John tower. This added 15′ of height and put the receive antenna in the clear. We are looking for your signal reports in comparison to your repeater experience prior to Saturday, October 10th.

We are very grateful for Dave-KØAVN who “took it to the top”. The picture shows Dave installing the dual band antenna at the top of the 30′ tower. Also shown is the hospital’s commercial UHF repeater antenna. Out antenna is receive-only and the signal is run through a filter. So far, both systems are operating without mutual interference.

The previous receive antenna was mid-tower. The new antenna is higher up and “in the clear”. Preliminary results experienced on the Sunday evening, October 11th JARA weekly Fusion net indicated that the repeater has a much greater sensitivity on receive. Spots where 25 watts were previously needed now requires only 5 watts for perfect copy. Many stations can now operate with just 0.5W from a hand-held.
The picture on the right shows the old receiver antenna to the left of the microwave dish. We are now using it as a control link.
Dave reported an outstanding view from the top and it seems our antenna is as high as anything atop the VA Hospital on the east side of Highway 7.
The other members of the crew were Dave’s father, Art, Gary-WØMNA, and Rick-NJØP.

Setting up APRS in your FTM-400

Running down the road? Let other keep track of you while you’re mobile by activating your built-in Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS).

There are a ton of settings, but, once all the configuration is done, the only one you need to remember is how t turn the APRS Modem on and off.

A detail APRS Instruction Manual is available on Yaesu.com.

Key variable: Set the B-Band for 144.390 MHz simplex. That’s pretty much the national APRS frequency.

Set-up stuff to know when in SETUP -> APRS:

  • 5 APRS Modem: On
  • 16 DIGI Path Select: Wide1-1, Wide 2-1
  • 23 Callsign (APRS): -7 HT, -8 land mobile, -9 mobile applications
  • 26 My position Set: GPS

Unless changes have been made to your radio, the default settings for items not mentioned above should be adequate for operation. There are customizing options you may want to consider for your convenience and comfort:

  • 3 APRS Filter: Customize the APRS messages you want to appear on screen
  • 6 APRS Mute: Turns off the braaaaaap sound so APRS operates quietly
  • 28 My symbol: Sets how you will appear on teh APRS.fi map. /> car, /R recreational vehicle, YY Yaesu radio
  • 29 Position Comment: Additional information about your status when your position is sent
  • 30 Smartbeaconing: Set this to use the frequency efficiently but not missing any turns.

JARA Room Established

The WØROO repeater is now connected to a newly established JARA room (DTMF 46775). You can no longer connect directly to the repeater. The Repeater is connected by default to the JARA Room so it will not accept any other connections.

If connecting via Wires-X via 444.800+ DN, you will notice the repeater (a.k.a LEAVNWORTH) is already connected to the JARA room. Everyone who connects to the repeater can activate Wires-X but check on-the-air before taking the repeater out of the JARA room. You can connect anywhere you like, but as a courtesy, please put the repeater back into the JARA room when finished. If you forget, the repeater will automatically return to the JARA room after 30 minutes.

If connecting via Wires-X over the Internet, you will be connected to the JARA room and, unless the repeater has been connected elsewhere, you’ll be able to talk with everyone else connected to the JARA room including anyone listening over-the-air. If someone over-the-air moves the repeater to another room, you will still be connected to the JARA room and anyone else still connected to the JARA room.

Wires-X Help Notes Posted

Want to use Wires-X but can’t remember how? Check out our Wires-X Instruction page for quickie instructions. We will continue to add helpful notes as we continue to experiment and play with Fusion. If you run across helpful hints that may make our Fusion lives easier, please feel free to send them to us via our Contact page.

New Net Format

Starting with the Sunday Evening UHF Net on Sunday, June 7, 2020, we will be in C4FM (Fusion) mode.  The repeater will remain in Automatic Mode Select (AMS), meaning that the repeater will transmit in the sme mode it received.  If you have traffic and need to use the net, you may transmit in FM and Net Control wll respond in FM and pick up your traffic.

For digital-capable stations, please use DN voice mode when checking in. This allows your radio to transmit your meta data, such as callsign and location.

The purpose of going to C4FM is two-fold:
    + To experiment with and become proficient with C4FM capabilities
    + To reduce the 4 Leavenworth FM nets to 3 each week

Wires-X Use Encouraged

The JARA repeater is connected to the Kansas City Room via Wires-X node. You are welcome and encouraged to engage Wires-X mode on our repeater and connect to other parts of the world. After 20 minutes of local inactivity, the repeater will automatically revert back to the Kansas City Room.

To engage Wires-X, your radio must be in either DN or VW voice mode. Identify yourself and say that you are “connecting to the Leavenworth Repeater via Wires-X”. This will alert any local operators that you are about to take the repeater for a spin. It will also alert the other 9 or so repeaters in the room that you are about to take the Leavenworth repeater temporarily out of the network.

Arrow points to the DX button.

After your announcement, press and hold the DX button on your radio until you get a beep. In a short time, you’ll get the Wires-X connection screen. If you’ve never used Wires-X, navigate to Search All. At that point, you’ll get a listing of all available nodes, rooms and users available. Select one and you are connected to that entity. To abandon that connection, go back to search and select another.

Try all the features of Wires-X, including voicemail, picture transfer, and messaging. Then, join us on our weekly JARA net at 7 PM Central on 444.800+ (151.4) and tell us about your experience.

Note: Other Kansas City Room repeater operators prefer that you not use Wires-X to change any settings on their repeaters. So, please make sure you’re on the Leavenworth repeater before using Wires-X features. 73 de Rick, NJØP