VK6RAP was WARG's first repeater and the first repeater in Western Australia..
The development of VK6RAP 146.100 - 146.700 is very much the early development of the Roleystone site.
WARG as such did not exist when VK6RAP was licensed and the site shown in the picture above was not the first location for the repeater. The first site was a few hundred metres to the SW at a Philips two way group site.
The first repeater was an Pye F60, a part valve, part transistor commercial base station put together by Russ VK6CV and operated without any cavity filters.
VK6's first working repeater.
The only photograph found so far of VK6's first repeater, a Pye F60 base station. Top unit the valve transmitter, middle unit the part valve part transistor receiver, and the bottom unit (obscured) housed the repeater control board. This photograph is part of one taken at a WARG display at a radio convention during November 1984.
Two dipoles, one for receive and one for transmit were installed on the original Philips site and the frequency 146.1 input and 145.6 output if my memory is correct. Originally there was a 500 KHz repeater offset. The repeater channels were placed either side of the simplex channels in use back then, centered on 146.0 MHz. It was thought that the existing X commercial equipment available for conversion onto 2M could not cover a wider band without re-tuning.
The F60 put together by Russ was not the first attempt at a repeater in Perth. A number of amateurs had been working towards a repeater, but back in those days there were many unknowns and it was a slow lengthy process. There was no amateur equipment that could be purchased and limited X commercial radios.
Some early amateurs involved with these experiments were Graham VK6BY and Mac VK6MM. Graham designed and built the first repeater controller that was installed in VK6RAP. I think Graham based his design on a VK5 controller.
Graham & Mac had applied for a repeater licence way back before Roleystone, for a repeater to be housed at Mac's QTH in Nedlands. Below is the application to the Radio Branch way back in 1970. The repeater never quite made it on air. Note the 500 KHz separation as it was back then.
27th May 1970 - A letter on file ...............
To: Superintendent Radio Branch Perth WA.
Ref: Unattended 2 Metre Amateur Repeater.
Permission is requested for approval to carry out
experiments with the use of an unattended repeater operating with
an input of 146.4 MHz FM (15 KHz deviation) and an output on 145.9 MHz.
The purpose ....................................
The equipment ..................................
The site of the proposed experiments will be at
75 Stirling Highway, Nedlands and will be under control of
M. McDonald VK6MM and G. Byass VK6ZDB.
......................................signed by -
WIA WA Secretary Neil Penfold VK6NE.
The photograph above most probably was one of the first visits to the new site owned by WANG, West Australian Natural Gas at Roleystone. Amateurs had gained access to the site due to the generosity of an amateur who sold the land to WANG, with the proviso that amateurs have access and several places on the tower for antennas.
|At a guess Russ VK6CV is on the far right and the amateur in the middle with back to camera looks like Alyn Maschette VK6KWN (SK), but it is a long time ago, around 1971 at an educated guess.|
Much discussion took place to decide what housing to put the Pye F60 in. Will VK6UU built the cabinet (the little white box to the left of WANG's hut) out of chip board with lots of paint to try and prevent water damage. The cabinet was mounted on a cement base and was made up of two parts, a horizontal partisan half way up allowed bits and pieces in the base and the F60 on the shelf half way up. Two fans were mounted at the back to circulate the air, and the entire inside lined with asbestos sheeting...! The reason for this was the concern that the wood could catch fire for what ever reason. Also inside the cabinet was a electric power meter. It was part of the agreement that we would be charged for the electricity used but as we used so little it was not worth the drive for WANG to go to the site and read the meter.
The cabinet was built on my front veranda as we had just moved into the new house and there was no where else to build it. It would not fit through a normal door. The letterbox opening at the back was the weather proofed entry for cables.
And there it is in close up, the cabinet...!
The "front door" was also chip board that fitted into a
two wooden handles to pull the door out. Later a weather shield
was added to the roof to keep
as much rain off as possible.
Our antennas are the two dipoles. The height of the tower is 250' (80M)
The photograph above shows the top of the WANG tower in the early 70's. Note theVHF beams. These were all part of the one radio system linking WANG to the South, Perth and to the next link North. Lots of these old 35mm slides are showing their age even with a bit of digital enhancement.
The WANG mast as it was shortly after VK6RAP was installed.
Note the lack of antennas compared to the mast today.
This could be called stage one of the constantly evolving VK6RAP. Many amateurs were involved in the only repeater in Perth at this time. The only other repeater in Western Australia was installed shortly after VK6RAP and that was VK6RAL at Mt.Barker, 50km North of Albany.
It was around about this time that a group came together to form a club to run VK6RAP and plan for more repeaters in Western Australia. There was interest in a second repeater for the Perth area, even though the then PMG was against the idea. The very thought of a remote repeater did not sit easy with the Regulatory people, let alone more of them.
There was interest in duplexing VK6RAP into one antenna. It was a way off, as duplexers looked like being very difficult and complex. Also of interest was a solid state repeater to replace the Pye F60. The F60 had a Nuvistor front end receiver which performed very well in a repeater and an all valve transmitter which had a very low RF noise output. All this added up to a repeater that only needed about 50dB of isolation between receiver and transmitter. Compare this to a solid state repeater that requires up to 100dB of receiver transmitter isolation. This is one example of where newer technology was not better when it came to performance. A low noise, low gain, FET preamp was added to the F60 receiver and improved the receiver performance by 6dB with little increase in receiver desense.
The early story of Roleystone and the first 2 metre repeater, VK6RAP, has to include one of the most colourful amateurs, Bill VK6ZBB (SK), an elderly pensioner. Bill lived in Armadale just below Roleystone and knew nothing about the installation of VK6RAP until he was tuning the band (2 metres) using his 2 metre AM transceiver. On 146.700 MHz he found the strongest signal he had ever heard in all his amateur years on 2 metres. Using slop detection Bill was able to receive the FM audio and using his AM transmitter tried with little or no success to have a contact with the amateurs he could hear on 146.7 MHz.
Eventually Bill was able to have an AM to FM contact with some amateurs on 146.7 MHz and all was explained. Bill then used his AM transmitter on 146.100 MHz, just a few KHz off frequency, and the repeater was able to slop detect the AM signal and produce a usable audio.
For a couple of years Bill operated in this fashion and did annoy some amateurs with his poor audio that varied as his transmitter drifted in frequency. However VK6RAP provided Bill with a great deal of fun over many years and eventually the amateur spirit provided Bill with a FM transceiver. A real character who had many thoughts on all subjects and for many of us enjoyable to listen to. He did help in the construction of the first 2 metre duplexer for VK6RAP doing some lathe work.
A second repeater for Perth
Interest was increasing for a second repeater for Perth and the only site that was available was at Wireless Hill in Applecross. The VHF group had access to the site as their meetings were held there along with a tower the group had installed. For Perth's second repeater story read VK6RTH.
One final picture to "rap" up this part of the VK6RAP
from the top of the
High Gain HF commercial vertical
For many years the Roleystone site had a vertically polarised HF log periodic strung from about the 200' point of the tower pointing North. It was terminated at where the International HF beacon, VK6RBP's antenna mast is now. A large diametre wooden pole was the anchor point, to which VK6RBP's mast in now attached. This large HF array connected to WANG's operations in the North. The large antenna was removed as technology gave other means of communications to the North
|The next part of the Roleystone story is the addition of a small garden shed to protect the chipboard cabinet and the development of a solid state repeater to replace the Pye F60, part valve part transistor repeater that had served us well as VK6's first voice repeater.|
Chapter two VK6RAP