the Plains, Montana
|Winter at the Lookout.
Left forefront was the original antenna location. Antenna was a Sinclair SRL-229B Which is still in operation, but Corey KC7MRQ is now using that antenna with the APRS system that's also located on the mountain.
Due to icing.. That antenna was replaced with one like this Sinclair type. Very rugged! Many swear by those Phelps Dodge type antennas. But I have seen them snapped off like a toothpick on the towers due to wind loads and icing. They are still great antennas.
|This repeater site
was first applied for in 1985 when I was out hunting in the mountains
here in Montana and I heard a couple of ham friends who were chatting
directly with each other over 70 miles away from each other.
Upon meeting with the USFS at Plains, it took over four years to get a permit to install my radios or repeater system in the forest service's lookout atop that 6,837 foot mountain. Many years have passed and the repeater service has proven to have been of great community service for many decades.
The equipment has changed over the years. The system at one time hosted a 911 interlink to all law enforcement in 7 counties that the repeater system covered from that elevation. There was also a time where it was also interfaced to Echolink a VOIP system where other repeaters could also link from other states or countries to make local conversations with other valid licensed operators.
view of the lookout tower in the winter. Some winters are very heavy and
it is those years that you hope nothing goes wrong with any of the
equipment. Access at many times is very limited. The access road is not
maintained to this site. So usually a person has to use snowmobiles
which would also have to be able to bring supplies for any repairs also.
And also with that comes bringing computers or test equipment for
programming or turning of transmitter or receivers.
In 2000, my family had a house fire so I lost a lot of my service equipment that I had obtained through the many years of ham radio and also working for other firms here in the Flathead valley. So, here's a special shout out to Rex Keeley who is the owner Kalispell Communications. Rex, N7ONV has been so helpful in tuning things that needed it. Also, John Blair KA5LXG was also a great supporter of the Plains repeater.
There were other's like WilmaJean French KD7HP in the Bitterroot valley who is also a long time tech in electronics. She's a great friend and one of the few in this area that knows anything about radios. Many others who have long since "Silent Key'ed" (past away) but who believed in this hobby and its purpose before it became commercialized. We all used to actually build things, and not buy them.
the ever increasing government control of radio sites these day's, we
are to as mentioned, have to move the system from the basement of the
lookout to a lower part of the mountain top.
This view is from the location where main repeater is mounted at ground level. This is the original location the permit allowed for install. I have over the years tried many other locations including on their tower also next to the lookout. But the tower's effect dropped the ability to communicate in certain directions.
In the second image halfway up the tower was the other location (left) of the antenna site. There is also a UHF antenna on that tower which will also have to be moved to the new site lower on the mountain. In the first image there is on the (left) side the other smaller old FAA site which is now controlled by the Sanders County Sheriff's office in Thompson Falls, Montana. There are (2) propane tanks inside a concrete housing. Just to the (left) of there is a flat area for the new communications building and tower that will be erected in that place. As that is a part of the Plains/Paradise TV system who also had to vacate the Forest services lookout up above.
The repeater was also linked to Cut Bank, Montana about 127 air miles away to the 146.700Mhz repeater system that covers the Highline areas by Glacier Park and even to areas of Great Falls, Montana. At one time even linked into Milk River, Canada. BC.
|Here are some other photo's from the mountain that I will supply and I will update this page as things progress on the mountain top.|
|View of Paradise, MT.||View of Perma, MT.|
|Same view of Perma, MT.||View of the repeater's coverage in Montana.|
|Again I will update with newer photos soon.|