Sean Murphy's blog

Upgrade work on main tower to cause short outage today

I am taking advantage of a day of good weather and available assistance to do some planed upgrade work on the tower above Hope Point today.

As a result of the work the G.R.I.P. Network will be down for a short time this afternoon.

One of the main tasks for today is to replace the HP-Client2 network segment with a new radio type better able to prevent packet collisions during heavy load. Those G.R.I.P. members on this secondary network segment will have an extended outage as I visit them in person in the next few days to replace their receiver equipment with the new radio type.

In the longer term I will slowly migrate some existing G.R.I.P. Members on the primary Hope-Point radio to the new equipment to eleviate network crowding on the primary network segment.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

- Sean

Large power outage effecting Center Bay, West Bay network service

A large power outage is currently effecting Gambier (and nearly all the sunshine coast!). The main tower is self-powered via solar & batteries and the power outage does not effect the source connection in Lions Bay so as a result:

- Members who communicate directly to the main tower will have no interruption in service.... so long as they have a way to power their own systems!
- Members who communicate through the Centre Bay station will have periodic downtime as I keep things running via a manual generator here.
- Members who communicate through the Carmelo Point, West Bay Landing, or West Bay Dock stations will likely have no service till the power outage is resolved by BC Hydro.

Let me know if you have any question.

- Sean

Issues with main backhaul link effecting whole G.R.I.P. Network.

6 months ago the radios that operate the main backhaul link for the network (connecting the G.R.I.P. Network to the mainland) where upgraded. All my testing, the radio's specs, and my simulations showed that these new radios should have no problem with the heavy rain we get at this time of year. Unfortunately the real world has a tendency to act differently then all expectations and the radios are having continuing trouble during heavy rainfall.

This is causing intermittent problems as the rain induced signal loss dips below the minimum signal level. I have in the last week moved to an antenna with more gain at Lions Bay, upgrade firmware, and changed settings on the radios in an attempt to eliminate the problems, but have only succeeded in slightly reducing the frequency of the outages.

I am now working on replacing the equipment entirely, moving away from this radio/frequency combo that has proven to be problematic for us. I will be hiking up the main tower tomorrow and climbing it to replace the equipment on that side after replacing the Lions Bay side earlier in the day. If the weather holds as it is now I should have the network switched over by Monday.

- Sean

Outage resolved

The outage that ran from yesterday afternoon till mid way though today has been resolved. The cause was a defective cable used to connect the main backhaul radio to it's antenna. The cable's factory-crimp was not done correctly, resulting in water infiltration into the cable and connector, cutting signal to below the minimum threshold. The cable, radio, and antenna have all been replaced.

Let me know if you have any questions

- Sean

G.R.I.P. Network Outage - Sunday Sept 6th

The network is currently out due to an issue with the main backhaul link between the island and the mainland. I am working to solve the issue now but it looks like dark is going to force me to stop and try again tomorrow. As always, give me a call if you have any questions

- Sean

Call for volunteers & Notice of maintenance outage

Next weekend, the 30th and 31st of May, I will be taking the main tower down at Hope Point to do upgrading work.

***This means that from mid-day on the 30th till late afternoon on the 31st the network will be down!***

During this time I will be:

- Replacing the main backhaul radio and antenna
- Replacing RF cables on all antennas to reduce signal attenuation through cable-loss
- Replacing electrical wiring to the wind generator
- Setting up a new tower climb system to aid future work without taking the tower down.
- several smaller wiring/charging system tweaks

In order to take the tower down on the 30th, and bring it back up on the 31st I need a crew of 6 people to assist. Right now I have two (including myself). The work itself is fairly light, but the trip up to the top is a steep hike over some rough/lose terrain! The hike covers 260m altitude gain in 1.5km distance, 1/3 of that away from established trails/roads.

Please contact me as soon as possible if you are able to assist this weekend, even if only for one of the two days!

Thanks

- Sean

One thousand, one hundred, forty eight pounds of batteries moved!

Due to the wind-power issues at the main tower over the last three winters, and despite my 150+ hikes up the ridge with fuel to keep things going the battery bank had been damaged beyond recovery. So this week I, with a helper, hiked up 488 lb of new batteries and luged down 660 lb of old, dead & near-dead batteries.

The old battery bank consisted of 4 225ah 12volt gel SLA batteries in a 24v array. Each weighing 165lb.

The new battery bank uses 8 225ah, 6volt flooded "golf cart" batteries in a 24v array. Each weighing 61lb.

This was a lot of work moving these batteries over the rough terrain at the top of the ridge *by hand*. Once the other upgrades are complete this will give the next winter a healthy battery bank to keep toped up.

- Sean

Belated service update

I was indeed able to fix the issues that had been plaguing the network talked about in the previous post. The plan to replace that link entirely with one operating on a new frequency is still in the works, along with a bunch of other improvements. More on that shortly.

- Sean

Continued issues for whole G.R.I.P. Network

The issues with the main backhaul link have continued to be a problem and is causing much frustration for all G.R.I.P. Members.

I have in the last week been up and down the ridge to the tower 9 times and to lion's bay 2 times trying to find a solution, including many settings changes, replacing the radios on the link and even having boats re-arranged in Lions Bay Marina to eliminate multipath interference.

I have a few more tricks to try this week and will be doing everything I can to improve the situation.

Main Backhaul Interruptions

Over the last month or so I have been seeing increasing interference on the main backhaul link to the mainland at the Lions bay end. This has resulted in short interruptions that have increased until there are sometimes several a day at this point.

In the short term I will be forcing lower data rates over the link and may try alternate radios to try and get better noise immunity. These measures though are not expected to entirely solve the issue so I will be speeding up a planed upgrade of that link.




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