Banner County Repeater Solar Project

On December 2019 Larry – KL7MH, Rick – W0SSB, Chris – KA0INA, and Steve – N6RSH went to the Banner County repeater site to remove all of the equipment for repair and upgrades. This is in preparation to convert the site to total Solar Power. When completed the 147.00- repeater and the APRS digipeater will be powered by Solar Power only.

L-R: Rick – W0SSB, Larry – KL7MH, Chris – KA0INA (Steve – N6RSH taking photos)
Repeater Building
Removing all repeater equipment for upgrades.
Looking up the Tower
Base of tower with feed lines entering building

On October 3 2020 a crew from the club went up to the site to prepare for the panel installation. This involved digging the hole for the support mast and putting the 7’8″ pipe in and cementing it in. The 2′ hole left the pipe at 5’6″ or so. Also 3 vents were put in around the building. The crew consisted of Larry – KL7MH, Dave – KD0ZXH, Kurt – KW0P, Chris – KA0INA, George – N7JJY, Rick – W0SSB and Steve – N6RSH.

Steve – N6RSH cutting the weeds for vehicle parking safety
Larry – KL7MH cutting down the weeds for the support pipe.
Getting ready to dig. Fortunately Chris – KA0INA brought a gas powered auger (not in picture).
Dave – KD0ZXH next to the finished product. Pipe is in and cemented.
One of the vents. 3 were installed this time but 2 more may be added later.
(l-r) Larry – KL7MH, George – N7JJY (owns the digipeater), Kurt – KW0P, Dave – KD0ZXH, Rick – W0SSB, and Chris – KA0INA. (Steve – N6RSH taking the picture)

On October 10, 2020 a crew of us returned to the repeater site with the panels and we put them on the pole. It actually wasn’t that hard to lift them up. We set the angle and bolted everything down tight. Next trips will see the installation of the connection boxes and wiring everything in. Then it will be ready for the repeater, link radios and George – N7JJY’s APRS digipeater.

The panels are up! The shade helps…
This is looking north. The angle is set for a compromise between summer and winter maximums .
The panels will provide some shade which will help cool the hut. We noticed a difference after the panels went up.
I (Steve – N6RSH) wrote the date we poured the cement… 😉
Our crew (l-r): Dave – KD0ZXH, Larry – KL7MH, Rick – W0SSB, Don – KF7BR, and Chris – KA0INA. (Steve – N8RSH behind camera)

October 20 & 21 2020 Larry – KL7MH and Steve – N6RSH went down to the Banner County repeater site to complete the electrical connections of the solar panels to the batteries. Larry built a nice panel to make all connections easier as well as install a vent tube for the battery box. As you can see from the photos, all 4 batteries are fused on the positive side. After everything was connected, the switch was thrown outside and the panels started charging the batteries! After about an hour they were topped up and the Charge Controller shut off per specifications. All that is left is to put the repeaters in.

Installation complete! Here you can see the panels, junction box on post, battery box vent tube and the cutoff switch.
All connections complete! l-r: Charge controller (cover off during testing), 4 battery fuses on positive side, pos/neg bus bars.
Battery box vent tube outside. This vents any dangerous hydrogen gas buildup.
Vent tube from box to outside
Hard to see, but this indicates charge complete and the controller shut off at voltage float level of 13.5 v. Status indicator led on left shows “Green Solid”.
We are now on 100% Solar Power!!!

Saturday, Jan 9 2021, a crew went back to the Banner County repeater site to perform some maintenance – specifically on the APRS Digipeater. The crew consisted of: George N7JJY, Larry KL7MH, Steve N6RSH, Chris KA0INA and Rick W0SSB. George replaced the KPC3 in the digipeater and we added a ground to the power panel and installed a DC LED light for the interior. I (N6RSH) finally got some pictures for you of the inside of the vault.

Here we can see all of the equipment installed. From the upper left is the power distribution panel. Below that is the Battery Box where the 4 batteries are housed, Notice the gas vent tube coming out the top. The white box sticking out behind the power panel is the APRS Digipeater. The ground panel is center. To the right are the Duplexer cans on the floor, In front of that is the rack with the N0NEB 147.00- repeater. Below the repeater are 2 temp controlled fans. The fuse boxes are at the top of the rack. Far right are 2 spare solar panels against the wall. The coiled hard line has been remove
This is a shot of the power dist panel and battery box. You can see the green ground wire we added to the negative side of the output bus bar. The new KPC3 for the digipeater is on the battery box.

These are the duplexer cans which allow us to use the same antenna for TX/RX.
Looking at the APRS Digipeater. You can see one of the 3 vents for the bldg. The light bulb is a remnant of the AC power service we used to have
Here you can see Gorege working on the APRS Digipeater. Above you can see the DC Light Bar we installed. We will put a second one in with an On/Off switch to make it easier to turn the lights on. You can see the difference from the above photo how well the light works. Much Better!