Photos taken September, 1994
Group Shot 1994 Antenna Preparation VE3TK doing some Bush Cutting Solar Ed Raising the Antenna - T-Shirt: We Can Always Get It Up
Trailer of Tower Site Transportation Drilling tower anchors and blowing out the dust Dig the Guy Anchor

History of VA3PLA

A number of members of a McArthur Mills Planica Recreation Club have amateur radio licenses. It became a natural progression to see if a repeater could be built in the area for communication when necessary. The Planica Recreation Club owns 1100 Acres of land with some reasonable hill tops suitable for a repeater.

In 1993, three hill tops on the property were considered, two at 1350' and one at 1500'. None had electricity. The obvious 1500' choice didn't even have a trail to the hill top. The 1500' hill was chosen as it has the best shot at a wider coverage area despite the greater effort to develop it.

In advance of the site preparation, the site was analyzed using CRC Predict propagation software. As a goal, coverage had to extend to the town of Bancroft. Due to a few 1600' hills west of the repeater site, it would be a diffraction path. Bancroft sits in a valley with shear cliffs shadowing it from VA3PLA. The repeater would have to be very sensitive to allow a 30W mobile a talk back path, but it is possible.

A duplexer was made of an old notch type RG-202 duplexer (4 notch cavities). Two bandpass cavities were added, one on each tx and rx side, for improved isolation. The first repeater radio was obtained surplus from the BC Forest Ministry. A BR-150, which is a mountain top 6W repeater based around the Motorola PT-200, was prepared for the site. It's standby current consumption was a mere 6 mA!

Out of the original group of members, $1100 was extorted so that out of pocket expenses could be covered. This included: guy wires, paint for the tower, cables, battery, solar panel (Dayton special!), charge controller, antenna, weather proof repeater housing and incidentals. Tower sections were harvested from Toronto homes at no cost.

Good natured spirit and simple curiosity drew even non-hams into the project. Labour was mobilized for two weekends in September, 1994. Approximately 20 people helped out. A new ATV trail was cut out of the forest 800 feet from the nearest existing trail. One weekend was used to cut the trail and prepare the tower site, while a second weekend was the actual tower assembly, installation and commissioning of repeater. A lot of non-ham volunteer effort from welding, generator, rock drill, repeater box and construction material went into this site. Construction was quick and smooth.

The repeater was put on the air September 18, 1994.

This is an attestation to the work of many people {names will be provided shortly}.

Over the years, we have had some technical and environmental snags, from porcupines, carpenter ants, lady bugs, antenna failures, duplexing issues and radio problems. Fortunately, there have been no issues at all with the solar power system or battery. For current technical info, refer to the technical page.

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