Sunday, March 30, 2008

Looking For A New Repeater Site Part 2

Once we'd made our way past the farmyard we got to see the more serious equipment.

The track suddenly took a turn for the worse and I was glad that I was driving an all conquering Land Rover.

It's pretty obvious that the Smart Car Brigade stop at the farmyard and that it's only the hardcore techies that venture up the track.
In 4x4 terms, that track would be considered "Grade 4". I wouldn't tackle it in the rainy season without recovery gear.

Moving on. The lower mast looks like it was built by / for the local Hams.

The entire installation has a professional air about it that I hadn't seen at the lower levels. The attention to detail has also rubbed off on the WISP equipment located on this tower.

Slightly further up the track I discovered this nightmare.

A cellular company seems to have had a mast up on the mountain at some point in the past. The damage to the "scaffolding" leads me to believe that the mast was mostly destroyed during a fire. The owners probably removed what they could and left the rest there to rust away. Needless so say some enterprising wireless operator came along and decided it would do as a site for a base station. Note the plastic toy box hosting equipment. Now where have I seen a toy box like that housing equipment? Oh yes, outside the Pick n Pay in Gordon's Bay. It's not there anymore. I wonder whether they moved the repeater site or whether the "tik monsters" stole the kit and sold it for a high?

The last mast on this part of the mountain is a huge new structure that somebody is investing a large amount of money in.

I like it, but I'm not sure that I want to locate our equipment on it, so I've decided to enter into negotiations with the owners of the land for permission to clear an area to build our own eco friendly repeater.

Watch this space.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Looking For A New Repeater Site Part 1

Those of you who keep an eye on our status page may have noticed the intermittent red dots next to Helderberg...

Being a relatively small WISP one sometimes needs to make use of other organisations infrastructure to provide clients with service.

I've not been overly thrilled with goings on up on Helderberg of late and felt it was time to pay the site a visit.

What I saw on arriving up there left me speechless.

It seems that every cowboy in the Western Cape who can bolt an aerial to a pole has been popping repeaters up on Helderberg.

Driving up the road leading to the repeaters I was gobsmacked to see that some enterprising individual was actually building a new mast in what appears to be the middle of a forest.

This budding wireless entrepeneur has been toiling away and now has what looks like a 15m mast planted on the side of the mountain. Unfortunately it seems that he's forgotten some of the basics of physics - specifically Freznel zones. I'm so glad I paid attention at 'varsity ;-)

But wait it gets better!

Towers aren't cheap. The last quote I was given for supported masts up to 15m was R1,000 a meter. There has been a 30% increase in the price of steel since then. Electricity's gone up by close on 20% and the price of zinc has also increased. Maybe that's why our budding wireless entrepeneur decided to skimp on the stay wire shackles. Instead of using galvanised round bar secured to a concrete block, he used some rusty chains.

The question now is how long before this tower falls over?

Moving further up the track we saw the military and municipal repeater sites.

This is an extremely important site. Apart from the local Police stations all using it as a radio repeater, the SA Navy also makes use of it, as - no doubt - do Denel.

Even though the masts are behind barbed wire they are not immune to the local cowboys. From talking to the farmer who owns the land on the other side of the fence, it seems people are driving up, parking their cars in his farmyard, jumping the fence and doing what they want on the two government masts.

The begs the question: When last did somebody from their signals section physically visit their repeater site?

The farmer I mentioned previously hasn't been sitting around idly. He's been renting the roof of his workshop to the guys who aren't too keen on getting their clothes torn climbing through the barb wire fence.

How this lot can actually work is beyond me. One sectoral antenna's path is blocked by the ground, the goverment comms shack and the neighbouring forest. But who knows, maybe it's just there to interfere with the oppositions repeaters. Either way it's a mess and I don't want our equipment to be anywhere near that lot.

Farmer Man needs to be careful. His next child may just be born without fingers or toes...

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Welcome to Cape Connect

We are a communications solutions provider offering high speed wireless broadband internet connections in Cape Town and surrounds. Our network is strategically located to also provide effective VPN and VOIP services. We at Cape Connect aim to provide local, cost effective connections to the Cape Town community.

We have a high speed microwave network covering Cape Town, Durbanville, Brackenfell, Kraaifontein, Athlone, Newlands, Pinelands, Ottery, Rondebosch, Constantia, Tokai, Marina da Gama, Muizenberg, Eersterivier, Firgrove, Somerset West, Strand, Gordon's Bay and Stellenbosch.

We have a team of experienced, dedicated staff that not only has many years of experience in wireless technology, but is also experienced in the intricacies of fibre optic LANs and WANs.

Our team of support engineers are always available to handle any query you may have while our security team are able to advise on and implement security strategies for single computers, a local network of computers or a multinational network.

Please contact us for more information.

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