Does the world need ANOTHER repeater? It is easy to make the case that it DOESN’T. My radio’s memory contains dozens of local 2m and 70cm repeater frequencies. Put it into scan mode on a typical day, and you probably won’t find much activity. There is a small sub-group of maybe 4 or 5 repeaters that gets all the action. In an environment with so much excess capacity, I think you need to offer the ham community something unique and different to justify creating a new repeater.
In my case, the “something unique and different” is a massive antenna, 850′ above the ground on a tall hill. The antenna is basically abandoned, a casualty of the analog TV shutoff in 2009. It is over 100 feet tall, weighs 7 tons, has six stacked bays (more than 6dB gain over a dipole), and is only 10 years old. It is fed by 3-1/8″ rigid copper line, which has loss of about .7 dB for 1000′ length! More than once, I’ve looked up at that monster and thought, “What could that do on 6 meters?”
One way to visualize the possible coverage area is to look at the Google Earth overlays furnished by TVFool.com. Now that analog TV broadcasting is over, you can’t download the analog coverage overlays any more, but I still have a copy of the map for analog channel 3, modeled for this very antenna, and have displayed it on this post (click the image to enlarge). Compared to the typical coverage of 2m (and higher) repeaters, 6m already has an advantage in lower path loss, and better propagation over the curvature of the earth. Combine that with a monster antenna on a tall hill, and your ham imagination comes alive with the possibilities!
As I write this, I’m still a few months away from being on the air, best case. There is still a LOT of work to do. Word has gotten out in the Syracuse area, and a lot of hams are eager to find whether the real world coverage matches our imagination. Also, a lot of people have questions, so I’ve created this blog to document the progress and make it easier for me to answer their questions. Take a moment to subscribe to this blog (click “Follow” on the sidebar), and every new post will be e-mailed to you.
This should be a fun ride. Your comments and questions are welcome!