A Brief History of how the L.A.R.A. Repeater came to be.


THE PIONEERS:

In 1968, Floyd Ziehl, K2ECQ, 
installed a repeater at his family's two-way radio shop, Ziehl Electronics.

In order for  this to become a community resource, 
it had to be converted to operate on the 2 meter amateur band. 

A group of amateur radio operators met regularly at the shop to tackle this conversion project
--a job that was successfully completed. 

The team developed quite a rapport, and formed the Lockport Amateur Radio Association 
which went on to complete a number of other important projects, 
including the next big task: converting mobile radios to use the repeater.

Not many repeaters existed at the time. 
A group, now known as BARRA, was being formed with a key objective
 being the installation of a repeater.

Other early repeaters at the time included the VE3RPT unit in Toronto.


SITE CHANGES:

The Location of the Repeater has varied as well. 
For many years the repeater was housed at the Ziehl family's business. 
Intentions were to move it to the Farmers and Mechanics Bank Building 
once suitable control measures were installed. 
But this move never materialized.

The repeater ran for many years at the Niagara County Civil Defense Building, 
currently the Emergency Management Office. 
The site even had facilities for club meetings. 

Although the site was suitable for emergency communication since it had a backup generator. 
and would also support R.A.C.E.S. operations as well. 
It, unfortunately, was not in the best location to maximize coverage area.

In the early 1990s, both the L.A.R.A. repeater and the R.A.C.E.S. 450 MHz repeater 
were moved to a location just outside the City of Lockport NY. 
Operated by County of  Niagara, it offered antenna locations on a 100 ft. tower 
overlooking the Niagara Escarpment. 

This site provided much better coverage of the county and surrounding area. 
And also included a generator backup power on site as well.

EQUIPMENT EVOLUTION:

The early LARA repeater was built out of spare or scrounged 
commercial General Electric equipment. 

A set of duplexers was pieced together out of several incomplete sets. 
These duplexers remained in service until 1998 and still serve as a backup. 

The early form of access control was a tone decoder that would start a timer circuit 
and allow COR access when tripped. 

The specific frequency was unknown and likely unstable. 
Nonetheless, the repeater could be accessed by whistling into the microphone 
from a low-to-high pitch (did we invent spread spectrum CTCSS?). 

As the proper frequency was crossed, the timer was started and access gained. 
This was the famous "Whistle-Up Repeater."

As additional equipment became available, from a variety of sources, 
(purchased or donated) the repeater was continually upgraded. 

While the LARA repeater was at the Civil Defense Building, 
R.A.C.E.S. put a 450 MHz repeater on the air to complement the 2-meter 
services of the club repeater.

L.A.R.A.'s repeater also underwent changes, 
getting its first micro controller, an S-Comm MRC-500
and some fresh transmitter and receiver strips from some 
units donated to R.A.C.E.S. by the FBI. 

This repeater operated, essentially unchanged until the 
present repeater was installed in 1998.

During the days at the Civil Defense Building, L.A.R.A. purchased the repeater 
and took over full sponsorship of it. 

L.A.R.A. members have always been intimately involved in installing, 
enhancing, maintaining and operating the repeater. 

But, L.A.R.A.'s purchase of the repeater formalized the club's commitment to its operation.

In 1998, an entirely solid-state repeater, a 100 watt solid-state 
General Electric/Ericsson unit, was obtained for the club. 

A new controller, an S-Comm 7K with auto-patch, voice synthesis and analog 
delay modules, was purchased and installed in the new repeater. 

A new set of TX-RX duplexers have been installed, making an entirely new repeater in service.

The repeater it replaced  is still maintained as an operational back-up. 
A run of 7/8" hardline feeds the commercial-grade colinear antenna at 
about the 80 ft. level on the tower. 

The hardline and antenna were replaced in 2004 with a new equipment, 
after the tower was struck by lightning, resulting in damage to both.

CALL SIGNS:

The original call sign was K2TRN,  more recently it was WR2ACJ  and today it is W2RUI.