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.  We even added a VHF repeater to our capabilities.  Specifics can be read on Repeater Book.  Here is a synopsis:

UHF: 444.800+  AMS Mode
VHF: 145.330-  AMS Receive/ FM Out
C4FM: T00/R00   FM: 151.4 Hz
Power:  50 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 Fusion Training Net in association with the Pilot Knob Amateur Radio Club, Leavenworth County ARES, RACES, and KCHEART.

N E W S  See Additional News Below

New Officers Elected!

The JARA 2021 Annual Meeting took place on June 26, 2021 at the PKARC Field Day site following dinner. The following were elected to the highest offices in the land (JARA land, that is):

President: Vic Henke – KEØSYO
Vice President: Randy Brooks – KØAWW

JARA is a no-dues, all-volunteer effort to provide a great Ham Radio experience to radio amateurs in and around Leavenworth. Although we need two names on the paperwork, we owe much to a great core group who serve JARA.

Draft minutes often 2021 Annual Meeting are available to members upon request.

Pi-Star Node Back Up

After a long-term Spectrum outage and then Microsoft pushing an update which kicked Wires-X off the node, problems have been resolved and the node was back on the air on Monday, June 28.

The pi-star node is a Wires-X to PiStar air gap which requires two Internet connections. Since the network at NJØP was already supporting a household and Wires-X, the pi-star node was placed in a location on Fort Leavenworth with very low usage on a 200 MBPS downlink.

Basically, any signals heard in our Wires-X JARA Room are relayed to the PiStar JARA Room and visa versa. Until we figure out how to do all that without a UHF simplex jump from one room to the other, we’re using this lash-up which is susceptible to interruption.

Wires-X Node – – – > UHF air gap < – – – PiStar Node

Pi-Star Node Down

The node that connects pi-star hotspots (both DMR-to-YSF and YSF-to-YSF) to the JARA Room is in the process of moving. The move should be complete before Field Day 2021.

On its first move, we ran into the problem of node configuration competing for the same Wires-X firewall pass-through ports. We have a secondary location which should work just fine.


JARA is proud to display our current configuration. We now have two Yaesu Fusion DR-2X repeaters. The UHF (444.800 + T00R00) and VHF (145.33 – 151.4/T00R00) repeaters are now independent and no longer share a single transmitter. This is especially handy on Sunday evenings when we have back-to-back nets that often overlap. Plus, we no longer have to plead to stay off one repeater as we operate a net on the other. Our current configuration is clean, professional looking, and works well. There’s plenty of upgrades on the horizon, but for now, this is the best we’ve had it. Many thanks to Saint John Hospital for allowing us to use their facility as our repeater site. Also, thanks to JARA members who have worked tirelessly to get us to this point. In five years, we went from one dead analog UHF repeater to what we have now.

Kudos to Vic-KEØSYO and Randy-KØAWW who participated in getting everything installed in the rack.

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.