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  • 2011: The Year in Review
    2011: The Year in Review
    Last updated on February 22, 2012 by The C.A.R.L.A. Team | This article is Archived | Permalink

    2011 was another busy year for CARLA. As with most years there were many accomplishments both obvious and behind the scenes.

    The following are highlights and some details of what happened in 2011.

    New systems installed:

    We saw the addition of three new systems to the CARLA network in 2011 including two on VHF.

    Some of these sites required multiple trips to complete the installation and subsequent modifications and fine tuning. The two VHF
    sites were much needed to fill in parts of the CARLA coverage area affected by Pave Paws on the 440 band.

    They include the following:

    CARLA 29 | San Luis Obisbo | 2,770' | 443.500+

    CARLA 35 | Oakland/East Bay | 1,500' | 146.850-

    CARLA 36 | Stonyford/Willows | 6,700' | 146.115+

    System changes, modifications, projects:

    -CARLA 4 had a major overhaul with a redesign to include a controller upgrade to an SCom 7330 to accommodate a second link for
    a clean hop to/from the 29 site. This included adding link radios, second link antenna and another coax run up the tower.

    -CARLA 6 (Snow Mt. Range/Stonyford-Willows) saw a VHF system installed and finalized at the 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.

    -CARLA 7 (San Jose) got a controller upgrade from the old SCom 7K to the newer SCom 7330 controller.

    -CARLA 8 (S. Lake Tahoe) went off the air in the dead of winter and isolated the Nevada hub from the rest of the system as a result.
    It took a one man field crew several hours to hike in and out on foot to effect repairs.

    - CARLA 9 has been using a different link frequency than the rest of the system to link in, and in 2011 it had its link path upgraded
    to use the system's main link pair.

    - CARLA 10 (St. Cruz Mts.) got a controller upgrade from the old SCom 7K to the newer SCom 7330 controller. It also had some
    work done on its power supply and main circuit breaker to make it more reliable.

    -CARLA 12 got a controller upgrade to the S-Com 7330. Later in the year it got a major power supply and battery overhaul when a
    surge blew a hole in the circuit board inside the power supply. The power supply was brought to the CARLA 'ICU' ward where
    delicate surgery with a dremel and soldering iron brought it back to life. Gotta love those Astrons!

    -Vaca HUB/16 had an issue with the RLC3 controller going into a reset loop often. As this was an intermittant issue it took several
    trips to troubleshoot. We ended up swapping the controller with a DSP404 in order to put the RLC3 on the bench and T/S it. After
    much testing/repair on the bench, the RLC3 was brought back up to the site and reinstalled.

    -CARLA17 was brought back to the lab and fitted with a new MSF-5000 and upgraded to an SCom 7330 controller. Also, the battery
    bank underwent a much needed rebuild from the ground up.

    -CARLA 18 (Topaz Lake, NV) had a PA go bad and needed changing out.

    -CARLA 20 (Burney) Needed its link antenna replaced AGAIN due to ice damage from the tower. That's two antenna replacements in
    two years. On a separate trip the repeater underwent repairs after it went off the air.

    -CARLA21 saw its battery charger burn up, requiring a trip to troubleshoot and a trip to replace it.

    -CARLA 25 had a crew go to the site for pre-winter damage assessment where it was determined that the link antenna mast had
    been tilted after being struck by falling ice from the tower above it. A subsequent repair trip was turned back just a few miles from
    the mountaintop by fresh snowfall on the access road.

    Website related changes, enhancements:

    -More pictures added to the gallery.

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

    -Back-end database and GUI improvements & enhancements

    Other miscellaneous items:

    -This year we have integrated the CARLA callsign K6LNK into most of the repeaters in the system.

    -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...

    Future goals/sites:

    -Our main goal for 2012 is to cut back on growing the system so that we may focus our time and energies on trimming down many
    of the projects that have been piling up during the last couple of 'build out' years. As you can imagine, the list is quite large and it
    does keep growing even though we work concurrently on several tasks each year, even while putting in new systems at new sites.

    Even though we may be cutting back on new installs this year, it is possible that we will put one or two new sites on the air, possibly
    in the Eastern parts of the California/Sierras, or parts of Nevada or the North Coast of California.

    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".

    We're two and half months into 2012 and have already been busy knocking out projects.

    We'd like to 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.