RAM & SPARC at Newton Peak

Pictorial narrative of the Newton Peak Repeater Site

Copyright © 2021 Ramon Gandia

Last Revised October 11, 2021

See also Experiments Page

2021 view of Newton

Originally, the 147.15 repeater was at the White Alice site on top of Anvil Mountain. When that site was decontaminated by the U.S. Air Force, we were told that the repeater had to go.

Ramon AL7X, Keith Andrews KL1CC, Ken Shapiro KL1YJ and Allen Sagoonick KL3VH dismantled Anvil Mountain, and using a bulk liquid container, built a passable enclosure and deployed the repeater atop Newton Peak; about 2 miles east of Anvil Mountain.

Newton does not have road access, and contruction was done using tracked vehicles, ATV's, Snowmachines and eventually helicopters. The repeater was initially re-activated in the summer of 2014.

Building the 2014 Repeater

2014 Repeater Construction

Photos Copyright © 2014 Ramon Gandia

This is Allen Sagoonick KL3VH, inside the 2014 repeater housing. It was a very tight squeeze indeed!

2014 Container Repeater

Repeater in Winter

Photo Copyright © 2014 Keith Andrews

Above: Ramon with his K9 Sydney, and Rolland. Fall of 2014.

Coated in Ice

Coated in Ice, January 2015

Photo Copyright © 2014 Ramon Gandia

Rebuilding Newton 2020-2021

The liquid container housing did not age gracefully. It cracked and allowed water to enter the housing. Fearing that the repeater would be damaged, in early September 2020, Ken Shapiro took out the batteries, repeater, solar controller and solar panel off, and brougt them to AL7X's house, at the base of Newton Peak.

RAM Purchased a brand-new building from CPC Plastics, Wasilla (Formerly Plaschem) to house the Newton repeater.

However, about the same time, a rogue local FAA employee took it upon himself to dismantle and remove the central SPARC radio hub near Fort Davis. RAM stepped in, and devoted the new building as the New SPARC Hub Site

SPARC eventually regained control of the former buiding, which was slightly larger, and traded buildings with RAM. Thus, the 8' X 10' former HUB building became the new Newton site building.

Cleaning up the Site

Dismantled liquid container

Photo Copyright © 2020 Ramon Gandia

The old Liquid Container was dismantled in 2020; and foundation materials taken up. Alas, due to the lateness of the season and the infirmities of old age, the Newton repeater could not be activated in time for the 2021 Snowmobile Racing Season.

Building ready to Airlift

Straped and ready to lift

Photo Copyright © 2021 Ramon Gandia

Ramon AL7X, with the help of Clara Tootkaylok (non-ham), worked during the fall of 2020, and the winter and summer of 2021 to get the building ready for Newton.

Temporary electric power made the work easy. Ken Shapiro, KL1YJ removed the old HVAC units, and placed Lexan windows in there.

New batteries were produced, as well as racks to hold them. The mountings for the antenna installed, and the repeater secured inside.

Five solar panels provide 0.55 kilowatts of power, compared to the former 65 watts!

Big Day! The Airlift!

Helicopter slighs the building

Photo Copyright © 2021 Ramon Gandia

Bering Air's UH1 (Huey) Helicopter easily carries the building to the site atop Newton. Batteries were trucked with a 4WD pickup.

On Site and Secured

Lindner at Boston

Photo Copyright © 2021 Benjamin Weitzel

The repeater building is secured to the ground with earth Duckbill 1/4" anchors. Notice the vertical turnbuckles and the chain bridles to the east anchor. One to the west also.

The door is closed with the upper and lower twist latches, hopefully making the door weathertight. For site security, a pipe with padlock keeps the curious out.

The Daniels Repeater and Batteries

Daniels VHF/UHF Repeater

Red Battery Bank

Photos Copyright © 2021 Ramon Gandia

This is what it's all about: Daniels VHF repeater with UHF Link.

The VHF repeater is putting 14 watts to the antenna (I don't like this, seems low), while the UHF Link radio, with Power Amplifier bypassed, is putting 2 watts to the antenna. Idle, the unit draws 0.18 amperes, and in full repeat mode 6.75 amperes.

Lower Picture shows the "Red" Battery Bank, 1,200 amperes total. Not shown is the Green Bank, also 1,200 amperes. A third bank (white) is planned.

Interior Views

UHF Antenna and Solar Control

Mr Heater and Green Bank

Photos Copyright © 2021 Ramon Gandia

Various interior views. Note the UHF link antenna is mounted inside, not exposed to weather. Mr. Heater can make the temperature a balmy 72F for those times we need to work inside. Green bank 1,200 amperes being assembled.

Crew and Rogues Gallery #1

Chris, Clara, Ramon

Photo Copyright © 2021 Ramon Gandia

Christopher Gandia, Clara Tootkaylok, and Ramon Gandia, AL7X. Tony Gandia took the photo. See next picture for him. Basically, Ramon thought he was boss; Tony tried to be Boss, while Clara and Chris did most of the work while ignoring Tony and Ramon.

Crew and Rogues Gallery #2

Thomas, Nancy and Tony

Photo Copyright © 2021 Ramon Gandia

Thomas Ilmar, Nancy Iyapana and Tony Gandia. Non-ham construction crew. Tony did most of the barking; Thomas did all the running around and Nancy did most of the work. Ramon took this picture, and he tried to be boss, but mainly just stumbled around and got ignored.

It was 39F and breezy when this picture got taken atop Newton!

Crew and Rogues Gallery #3

Ken Shapiro

Ken Shapiro, KL1YJ. A Fantastic and Dedicated ham & worker

Benjamin Weitzel

Benjamin Weitzel. We call him "Red Beard" for some reason. Non-ham, but electrically and mechanically minded.

Photos Copyright © 2021 Ramon Gandia

Overall Comments -- 2021

Newton Peak on the air October 3, 2021

This repeater site was funded by RAM, who has a State gaming permit. The site is controlled by SPARC, but RAM can also share the building should it desire to add radios in there.

Randy Oles, KL0JS, runs the gaming activity and keeps the money flowing. From time to time he pitches in with physical work; eg, digging in earth anchors, welding, etc.

Ramon AL7X is presently conducting experiments using a Cell Phone as a tie-in to a phone patch. Early work indicates this is going to work. If it stands a few months of reliability testing, the SPARC hub could well move to the top of Newton, thereby eliminating the present SPARC Hub site.

Click Radio Experiments

The higher elevation hub would almost guarantee that future repeaters can be located many miles further away.

Narrative Copyright © 2021, Ramon Gandia. Photo copyrights as indicated in the picture captions.