W7PLC Hybrid Gateway Station.

W7PLC Hybrid Gateway Station. 9/23/2020
2 years ago I started with a basic packet station, computer, KPC-3+ and a FT-2900R feeding a 7.8dB gain VHF vertical antenna. This worked fine for a while until I realized there was a need for a Gateway station in West Olympia.
I downloaded and installed RMS Packet and RMS Trimode. This gave users internet access via my VHF radio which was parked on 145.630MHz. With good coverage and lots of users, I decided to upgrade to a Hybrid station, adding HF to the mix. I also have a good, stable Comcast internet connection.
I downloaded and installed VARA HF and VARA FM. I sold the KPC-3+ to a ham in Calif. And ordered another Signalink-USB, I now have three of these curious devices. After working with Mark Anderson-K7HTZ for many hours, I configured both VARA programs which allowed me to have a Gateway and a “personal use” port. Mark was wonderful, talking me through all the settings and options.
Now, my Kenwood TS-2000 is the primary VARA HF radio, VARA FM is using the FT-2900R. The VHF side is strictly VARA FM but the HF side, which is scanning several HF frequencies, is both VARA HF and ARDOP.
I also installed a new antenna, a dual band vertical at 30 ft, for the VHF side and an end-fed wire for the HF side with an automatic antenna tuner, (the MFJ-939).
Next, I had to “harden” my station, make it impervious to power failures. This involved 3 AGM 35Ah batteries in parallel, a 100 watt solar panel, a 60 amp solar charge controller, a 1000 watt pure sine wave inverter, an Anderson Power Pole distribution box and lots of rewiring, I’m now fairly proficient at Anderson Power poles. The radios and tuner are powered directly from the batteries through the distribution box, the Signalinks are USB powered, the computer, monitors, and Comcast router are powered off the inverter. We had our first real test today when we had a 5-minute power failure as the first fall storm of 2020 raged on, the station kept running and never even blinked.
You can connect to my station on 144.950 MHz VARA FM, 3585.400KHz, 7100.400JHz, 10144.800KHz, 14108.900KHz, and 18108.200kHz using either VARA HF 2300 or ARDOP. My station is located at 47.034731N, 122.920613W, grid CN87ma, and is operational 24/7.
Plans for the future:
• More, larger capacity batteries.
• Add a 2nd or 3rd solar panel, as budget allows.
• I will investigate satellite internet but will have to cut costs somewhere to fit it into the budget.
• Get a dedicated laptop to run the station, as budget allows.
• Clean up the wiring.
• Reposition all components for shorter cabling.

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