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  • 2010: The Year in Review
    2010: The Year in Review
    Last updated on February 14, 2011 by The C.A.R.L.A. Team | This article is Archived | Permalink

    2010 was no exception when it came to having another busy year. Some accomplishments were in the forefront and obvious to those who follow CARLA's movements closely while even more were behind the scenes and not so obvious to users of the network.

    The following are highlights and some details of what happened in 2010.

    New systems installed:

    We saw the addition of four new systems to the CARLA network in 2010!

    Some of these sites required several trips to make it all happen and although each only represented by one line below, required well in excess of 100+ man-hours to prep, build, install, drive test and repair (in some cases)... yes, that's for each one.

    They include the following:

    CARLA 25 | Redding | 6,200' | 444.325+ | http://carlaradio.net/thesystem/systemdetail.php?sysid=25

    CARLA 26 | Geyserville | 3,000' | 443.475+ | http://carlaradio.net/thesystem/systemdetail.php?sysid=26

    CARLA 27 | Quincy | 7,220' | 440.725+ | http://carlaradio.net/thesystem/systemdetail.php?sysid=27

    CARLA 28 | McCloud | 3,000' | 443.475+ | http://carlaradio.net/thesystem/systemdetail.php?sysid=28

    System changes, modifications, projects:

    (in no particular order)

    - In addition to adding CARLA 26 (Geyserville) to the network it also serves as a relay point for CARLA 3 (Pt. Arena). So, one project was to visit CARLA 3's site and make all the appropriate changes and re-steer the link to CARLA 26's site. Although it added an extra hop point in the link path, it helped to improve the overall link path in general. There was also a prep for painting day that several of us attended in order to get the site ready for commercial customers. That was fun (Not).

    - CARLA 10 (St. Cruz Mts.) saw the effects of PAVE PAWS when we had to replace the primary antenna on the tower and make it directional, favoring the SW direction. We also started the first phase of an overhaul project for the system in order to upgrade the equipment and move it into a larger cabinet.

    -CARLA 6 (Snow Mt. Range/Stonyford-Willows) saw several trips to it during the year for a few projects. Some of those projects included removing and re-purposing the secondary link equipment from CARLA 13 and CARLA 3. We also added a new PV (solar) panel to the array to replace two that were cracked from falling ice. We thank the guys from the Oregon Connection with helping us to procure the panel for us to use. We also installed and started testing a VHF system at the same site. There were several trips made just for that installation and optimization. We have to co-channel with several other systems on the pair and several people had (volunteered) to do quite a bit of drive testing all through the greater Sacramento Valley, Central Valley and Bay Area while we made adjustments to the power and antenna pattern. This is still in testing mode and once things are finalized we will make the official announcement regarding it.

    -CARLA 7 (San Jose) finally saw the interference from an uncoordinated ATV station in the link band cease operation which allowed us to re-mount and re-aim the link antenna which in turn greatly improved our link path and reliability. Over the past several years we have had to suffer with a poor link signal due changing weather conditions and interference attributed to the ATV operation and the measures we had to take to try and minimize its affect on us. We also started to work on the battery plant upgrade and plan to make some RF and audio improvements this year. Additionally, we installed a camera on the tower
    for security.

    -CARLA 8 (S. Lake Tahoe) saw a complete re-build and upgrade with a secondary back-up link installed (to CARLA 18's site) in order to connect the Nevada & California Hubs together in case of a circuit failure for the normal link.

    -CARLA 19 (Hayward) had a rebuild of the rack along with new battery plant installed, new DC power distribution and other improvements.

    -CARLA 13 (Shasta lake) had its primary link circuit changed out to an IP based solution utilizing the Link Comm DSP-404 controller with VoIP/RoIP capabilities.

    -CARLA 18 (Topaz Lake, NV) Also had its primary link changed out to an IP based circuit. This one however, has been giving us some grief and we were able to switchover to the back-up RF link via CARLA 8's site in the meantime. This site also required a visit in December through snow & ice via snowmobile to deal with the problem.

    -CARLA 20 (Burney) Needed its link antenna replaced due to ice damage from the tower. The primary antenna also suffered some damage from ice buildup and high winds.

    -CARLA 15 (Coalinga) had a bad link radio replaced and controller firmware update performed.

    -CARLA 12 (Pleasanton) required a replacement of the primary repeater's power amp and subsequently we took advantage of the down time to upgrade the controller to the S-Com 7330.

    -CARLA 9 (Modesto) This system had to be dismantled and moved to a new location on the same Mt. Top. Everything was removed including rack, equipment, batteries, antennas, etc... and reinstalled just a few hundred feet away (that was a separate trip). It still needs be upgraded with a new controller, link system and battery plant. Another project for 2011.

    -Vaca HUB We replaced some of the batteries that were getting old and not performing when in back-up operation. A new heavy duty charger is also needed to replace the failing one.

    Website related changes, enhancements:

    -Rolled out a new `contact/report a problem' page and form so people can do just that. Contact the admin staff and also report a problem via the website if they have no other means to let us know.

    -More pictures added to the gallery.

    -New system & site information published as they came on air.

    -Back-room database and GUI improvements & enhancements

    Other miscellaneous items:

    -As always, we have a concurrent agenda to the steady maintenance, repairs and new build-outs which includes all kind of special projects, system upgrades & overhaul, local site (land lord requested) improvements & projects, website updates, programming enhancements, interference and performance issues needing investigation and resolution, finding a permanent resolution for the performance issues with the DSP-404 controllers we have deployed, etc, etc, etc...
    Let's put it this way, the goals & project list for 2011 is currently 5 pages long and always dynamic in nature.

    Future systems/sites:

    -In 2011 we hope to accomplish the integration of a few more sites to expand our coverage into key areas that do not currently have access to the network and subsequently can not utilize our wide area linking capabilities during `significant events'. Some areas we are working on include the San Luis Obispo area, the Eastern parts California/Sierras, more parts of Nevada and some more of the North Coast of California. Some of these new sites have been in the hopper for a year or two but this year we are determined to make several of them happen.

    We are also working on our 900MHz system and integrating that into the rest of the network. We have experienced some technical issues along the way but "we are aware of the problem and working on it".

    So, that's all we can remember for 2010. We're two and half months into 2011 and have already been busy "getting to work".

    We'd like to also thank those individuals who have made all the above possible during the year. There's only a handful of people involved but the contribution and effect has always been enormous.