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How does one go about building a portable repeater for use at events? Preferably at low cost, and with a minimum of bulky parts (so it's travel friendly).

Obviously you'd need a pair of radios to handle RX and TX, taking into account that the TX radio will probably have an above-average duty cycle.

I'd imagine you'd also some sort of controller to add courtesy tones / send out a station ID. I know there's some commercial options out there, but most of them look rather expensive (thousands of dollars, US), and not terribly small. I'd like to imagine that most of this work could be done with a specially equipped Raspberry Pi?

Then there's the issue of antennas. I know you can use a duplexer to share a single antenna, but I think those are also large and expensive. Can you make due with two antennas, given sufficient separation? Any other options?

Anything else I'm missing?

As a bonus consideration: My primary purpose would be for amateur radio, but it would be awesome if it could be somehow reconfigurable to work as a repeater for GMRS purposes (legally, in the US). There's very little information out there about GMRS repeaters, which is rather surprising.

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    $\begingroup$ I think this question would be better received if you broke it down into specific questions. Some of them don't have answers, like "Should I use a ready-to-go, expensive repeater kit, or should I build my own?" Some do have answers, like "Can I eliminate the need for a cavity duplexer given two antennas sufficiently separated?" But with all these questions mixed together, it reduces mostly to "design a repeater for me". $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Mar 3 '15 at 15:39
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    $\begingroup$ Seconded. A question like this will likely get answers that are either fuzzy or don't address all the parts of the question. Split it up and you'll hopefully get individual high-quality answers. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Mar 3 '15 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ This website has TONS of repeater building resources: repeater-builder.com/rbtip/index.html $\endgroup$ – W8AWT Mar 3 '15 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ You should be able to hook up two el-cheapo handheld transceivers and mount the antenna's above each other so the TX unit is not blasting rf into the RX unit. The courtesy tones can also be sent from a third unit that is simply within range of the repeater and has some more intelligence on board (storm forecasts, time, ident, etc..). Here's an example: miklor.com/COM/UV_CrossBand.php $\endgroup$ – captcha Mar 4 '15 at 0:56
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You can simplify this a lot if you can set up and use a cross band repeater instead of an in band unit (licence dependent).

Units like the Yaesu FT-8800 have a cross band repeat mode built in as standard and will just need a single antenna and a power supply or battery.

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A guy on youtube built one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMkULsNU2_A

His VHF/UHF repeater is built into a waterproof pelican case:

  • 4X Yaesu FT-60R radios
  • Radio-Tone repeater controller
  • Some assembly required.
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If it were me, I would want something self-contained. This example has a repeater, controller and a gateway (this was a potable networkable single site solution for public safety) in a 6u rolling rack chassis we, BridgeCom Systems made. This would easily house a repeater or mobiles, small battery and all your cables, radios, etc (to a point, lol!). This would make it easy to move it from one location to another. This could cost as low as $400 and up depending on specs. I see your other questions have been answered. BridgeCom Systems, Inc (Disclosure, I work at BridgeCom Systems) has answered this question at http://www.bridgecomsystems.com/collections/bcr-repeaters/products/rolling-case

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    $\begingroup$ Please disclose your affiliation with BridgeCom Systems in your answer. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Jun 4 '15 at 18:59
  • $\begingroup$ my affiliation, email and title are in my profile too. $\endgroup$ – Tim Jun 4 '15 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ Please read the help center. “Post good, relevant answers, and if some (but not all) happen to be about your product or website, that’s okay. However, you must disclose your affiliation in your answers. If a large percentage of your posts include a mention of your product or website, you're probably here for the wrong reasons.” $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Jun 4 '15 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ thanks, luckily I'm here for the "right" reasons, I really like to help people... Fortunately the large part of my knowledge is about the products I work with everyday. So I'm sure most of my answers will include the largest part of my familiarity. Regards, Tim $\endgroup$ – Tim Jun 4 '15 at 19:29
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You can build a repeater using 2 Motorola CDM radios and a RICK box.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/MOTOROLA-REPEATER-RICK-HLN3333-/301682707188?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item463db0caf4

see this youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpNIwV9S4Bw

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    $\begingroup$ Please add enough detail to your answer so it will still be useful if the links break. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Jul 10 '15 at 5:11

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