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  • Recent CARLA updates and items of interest
    Recent CARLA updates and items of interest
    Last updated on June 1, 2017 by The C.A.R.L.A. Team | Permalink

    There’s been a lot going on so far this year, a lot of which has been in the background and
    without much fanfare. We also suffered a lot of damage at multiple sites from the heavy 2016-
    2017 winter storms. At a number of high level sites the snow turned to ice and the winds whipped
    up to 100+++ mph gusts which in turn made a recipe for disaster. That equated to falling ice and
    broken tower hardware/components which in turn meant broken antennas as well as lots of
    commercial power outages and other disabled equipment. We had people making multiple trips going
    to sites to try and make repairs in the dead of winter and there are still some sites that are
    in need of visits. We figured it would be a bad winter but we weren’t expecting to make up for a
    few years of light winters all at once.

    So far, we are aware of a broken repeater antenna (suspended sideways) at CARLA 21’s site and a
    broken solar array, antennas and wind generator at CARLA 6’s site which is causing it to limp
    along. CARLA 8’s repeater PA is still out of service and it as well as CARLA 9’s batteries would
    not engage during the winter outages. Those are just some of the lingering issues we’ll try and
    address this summer along with a number of smaller ones and the ones that were already addressed
    were numerous as well. We can only do so much with the limited resources and funds we have so
    some repairs and upgrades will have to wait.

    We made a lot of progress recently on the southern end of the network and this serves as the
    Official Announcement of two additional sites:

    CARLA 30 (Bakersfield/Cuyama)
                         and
    CARLA 31 (Los Angeles/Southland)

    These two systems were known to some that tried using them the past couple of years during numerous
    testing phases and repairs but remained a work in progress and we wanted to wait before pulling
    the trigger on announcing them until we had their operation(s) a bit more stabilized. A very
    select few people have committed hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to making these two
    systems a reality and getting them to work on the network. That included not only the procuring,
    designing and building of the systems (and modifications to connecting systems) but also, just
    two months ago, a complete and unexpected de-commissioning of CARLA 31 and then rebuilding it
    brand new and moving to an alternate building/location on the same mountain top in Southern
    California. An extraordinary amount of time, energy, hours, driving, testing, repairs, upgrades,
    patience, negotiations and money was expended to make all this happen. A BIG THANK YOU goes out
    to those select individuals who made it happen. They know who they are and we are very
    appreciative of their hard work, dedication and generosity.

    That being said, there is still more work to be done at CARLA 31’s site with the pending
    completion of the new tower. We should be able to move antennas onto it sometime this summer. We
    are currently on a temporary structure with less than ideal circumstances but we felt the moment
    had come to call it good enough for prime time and integrate them both into the mix. This also
    means CARLA’s coverage has increased to include border to border to border coverage. When you
    consider the footprint of the Oregon Connection’s network, between the two systems there is
    coverage from the southern portion of Washington State through a large portion of Oregon and
    California (Northern and Southern) to the Mexican border as well as a large portion of North-
    Western Nevada. We still have some more expansion and improvement projects on the books that may
    see the light of day sometime this year if things go well.

    As you can probably imagine, it takes a lot of personal time and funds to keep a network of this
    size up and running not to mention expanding, upgrading and constant repairs. That is why we’ve
    also established a GoFundMe campaign as yet another avenue to
    make it easier for some people to send a donation if they feel compelled to help out. We don’t have membership dues,
    fundraiser events, auctions or other sources of income. 95% of the operating and capitol funding comes from
    just a select number of people and few generous site sponsors but it’s still nowhere near enough
    to sustain this level of service. Please consider supporting CARLA so we can continue to make it
    a reliable means of communications, When All Else Fails. We started with a nominal goal for the year
    but trust us, it doesn’t stop there.

    Speaking of the CARLA website, we hope to get the interactive map back up and running this year.
    It’s been stuck in a non-operative state for an extended period and in the meantime the network
    has grown so we need to get it back up and working. It was a highlight for many people when they
    went to use it in the past.

    If you haven’t checked out the Usage Guidelines or PL and Courtesy Tones pages of the website
    yet, please familiarize yourself with them. There has been an influx of new operators over the
    years, as well as regulars, that have never looked at that material and could stand to have a
    better experience and understanding of certain repeater/network operations once they do.

    Lastly, we’re still on track for doing a complete overhaul and building of a new hub for our
    primary Mt. Vaca location which we hope to have completed this summer. A lot of prep work has
    gone into it including antenna/tower work, equipment procurement, etc... Once we have all
    parties available to continue the design and build process we’ll push forward with it.
    Unfortunately, there have been numerous diversions to deal with which has slowed progress. Our
    goal has been to have dual hubs on the same mountain top but in different buildings/sites for
    redundancy and have the ability to cut over remotely if needed. That plan may be in jeopardy now
    due to imminent changes with the site we’re currently in. Worse case, we’ll have a new hub but
    only one. This is still a work in progress.

    This was a brief summary of just some items that may be of interest to a few of you. There’s a
    lot more that’s gone on which we won’t bore you with but please realize it is a near full time
    job keeping CARLA up and running not only for your usage but especially so for when it’s really
    needed.

    Thanks.

    The CARLA Team