Cupertino ARES and our
Amateur TV Project

I got interested in ATV several years ago as part of my Ham Radio hobby exploration phase.  At that time, the only ATV repeater was west of me up on Black Mountain, about Palo Alto, CA.  Unfortunately, it was shielded by the Cupertino foothills and my project never got off the ground... until now.

Two things happened:  (i) Cupertino ARES/RACES became more interested in expanding its simplex ATV capability from the field back to the EOC, particularly after a demo to the City during one of the City's EOC activation drills, and (ii) Ben W2NYC and the Cambrian Park Amateur Radio Association moved the  K6BEN ATV repeater to the East Bay foothills.  This one I could "see" (from a RF point of view!).  The obvious next step was to develop a portable ATV field package that could be deployed to the field.

The RF requirements needed to align with the K6BEN ATV repeater system.  Ben's repeater looks like this...

Additionally, I had a specific set of system requirements in mind that I also wanted to have met.  There were:

  1. Field portable in a single package

  2. ATV Transmission on 1.2GHz

  3. ATV Reception on 427MHz

  4. Uses as much commercial off the shelf components as possible

  5. Designed in a manner such that it could be replicated (if required)

As soon as anyone says Commercial off the Shelf, 2 things come to mind... (i) usually faster implementation, and (ii) expensive.  My goal was to get this up and running, prove the concept to the City, and propose funding for incremental units if Cupertino OES saw value.  If not, then I've got a nifty ATV field unit to play with! 

Design Approach
With the requirements in place, my goal was to essentially come up with a rolling rack-mounted installation that could be quickly deployed.  I settled on on a 4U Roll-X case, the kind used by bands to rack-mount their gear for travel or for industrial applications.  I also purchased with 2 - 2U trays on which all the ATV equipment would be mounted.

The actual ATV equipment was recommended by Ben and the local ATV group, and was procured through various suppliers, all over the internet.  So, the following are the main assemblies that went into the package.

With the system complete, it looks like this...





Check out the photo gallery for a look at the entire system, both inside and out.  Double-click on any image for a bigger view.

Next Steps
Next steps is to complete the antenna mast arrangement.   With the close proximity of trees and homes in Cupertino, I need to get the antenna up high enough to hit the repeater.  I'm currently thinking of some type of portable crank-up or push-up type, with a height goal of 25 to 30 feet (talk about a product opportunity for the ham community!).  If you know of anything out there, please let me know before I go off and build it myself.

Links of Interest
The following links are included as pointers to information and material used to develop this project.

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updated:  January 12, 2008