Philadelphia Area Repeater Association

History Page

Main Line VHF Association

In November of 1967 the Main Line VHF Association put a repeater on 146.340 MHz input and 146.940 MHz output. It started as a split site between Merion and Newtown Square. The callsign used was WA3BKO which was the club call of the Main Line VHF Association. In May of 1968, with the acquisition of a four cavity duplexer, the repeater became a single site machine located at the roller rink in Berwyn thanks to K3DSM. They added automatic ID, tape logging, hardline and a Phelps-Dodge Stationmaster antenna which made this a pretty impressive repeater. There were some interference problems and it was desirable to move the repeater off of 146.940 MHz. The problem was by this time there was already a repeater in Sellersville on 146.760 MHz.

Les Voyageurs Amateur Radio Operators Club

In the fall of 1968 the Les Voyageurs, an amateur radio club from Souderton, had put a two meter repeater on the air from Sellersville. The use of the site, a 100', walk-up, microwave tower, was donated by the County of Bucks through the Office of Civil Defense. The RF equipment, an eighty watt Motorola base station, was loaned by the Office of Civil Defense. The repeater ran two seperate antennae. One Mosley Diplomat, for receive, was mounted upright on a ten foot TV mast from the "catwalk" and the other Mosley Diplomat, for transmit, was mounted upside from the "catwalk". Antennae, feedline, control equipment, etc. was supplied along with man (and woman) power by the Les Voyageurs group. The frequency of 146.280 MHz input and 146.760 MHz output was used which had been vacated by the W3CKP repeater in Doylestown when the owner, Warren Culp, went to Okinawa. The callsign used was the club call of the Les Voyageurs which was WA3IPP. The original group that was instrumental in putting WA3IPP/R on the air was K3NLT, K3HLN, K3LLI, W3AZR, K3QZT, K3JFP, K3ZMA and K3YCY. After the repeater was on the air and fully operational the group grew rapidly. Within a few short months the group totaled over thirty users.

Early Cooperation Between Groups

Since the Main Line VHF Association was experiencing interference on .34/.94 and needed a frequency change, the two groups got together and discussed putting a joint repeater on the air. They decided to try a quarter kilowatt on 146.760 MHz transmit, from Sellersville, thanks to Bob Kinney W3EK and to run two receive sites; one in Souderton on 146.280 MHz, at K3NLT's QTH and one in Edgemont on 146.340 MHz. This arrangement was put into operation and worked quite well. You could pick your input frequency depending on your location. The only problem was that even with the quarter kilowatt the transmitter coverage was marginal in downtown Philadelphia and along the Expressway.

Enter PARA Into The Picture

At this point in time there was a lot of fighting between different repeater groups in various other parts of the country. In an effort to not have the same problem in the Philadelphia area Main Line VHF and Les Voyageurs had a joint meeting to discuss combining resources and forming an organization which would best be described as an association of repeater operators. This organization would co-ordinate development of repeater systems in the Philadelphia Metropolitan area. The organization would be known as the "Philadelphia Area Repeater Association" or "PARA". It's knickname would be the "PARROT" which means "Philadelphia Amateur Repeaters (and) Remotely Operated Transmitters". The new group would design and build a wide area coverage repeater which was to be used as a calling frequency. When contact was made on this frequency the parties in contact would then move to one of the local area repeaters which PARA would support and local groups like Les Voyageurs, Main Line VHF, Penn Wireless, South Jersey Radio Association and the Suburban Mobile Repeater Association would build and maintain. PARA joined the "Northeast Repeater Association" which was trying to set up a band-plan and coordinate frequencies to minimize interference among groups. The Les Voyageurs, in Souderton, would put on a .28/.88 repeater. The Main Line VHF Association would put on a .34/.94 repeater somewhere on the Mainline. The Penn Wireless group would put on a .37/.97 repeater in the Northeast area of Philadelphia and the South Jersey Radio Association would put on a .22/.82 repeater in Waterford Works, NJ.

Setting Up and Sharing Equal Control

The board of directors of PARA would be made up of two persons from each local area repeater group, elected by the users of that groups repeater, to represent their group in PARA matters. That way each local area repeater group, no matter how large or small, would have equal representation on the PARA board and no one group would have an unequal advantage over the others.

Click here for a synopsis of the "highlights" in PARA history.

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