NERA Repeater System History

NERA began over 20 years ago when several engineers employed at the CBS Television Network and the FCC built the WA3KOK repeater system in Washington DC. The original system was designed to provide hand-held coverage throughout the greater DC area. This was one of the first 440 MHz repeaters using multiple remote receivers to provide this type of coverage in the area. Corporate sponsors have been wonderful benefactors throughout our history. NERA has received generous support from several state and corporate sources including Team Video International, CBS Television, and the National Weather Service to mention a few.


Surprised that the practice of extensive linked repeaters so prevalent in the Western United States didn't really exist in most of the East, several members of NERA began an expansion effort. The K3HOT repeater in Germantown, Maryland was linked full time to the Washington WA3KOK repeater. This expanded the coverage of the NERA system to Washington's western suburbs.


In 1994 a new WA3KOK linked repeater was installed on Cacapon Mountain located in Virginia near Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. This addition extended system coverage to include most of Central and Western Maryland, the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, northwestern Virginia, and southern Pennsylvania.


In 1997 the K3HOT linked repeater was installed at 4030 feet AMSL atop Fork Mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Madison County, Virginia. This addition increased coverage to include fifty-seven counties in central Virginia and eastern West Virginia. The NERA system now covered an area extending from Washington DC to West Virginia and from the Pennsylvania border to Charlottesville Virginia.


After several years of planning the installation of another WA3KOK linked repeater at Bull Run Mountain in Prince William County Virginia was completed. This new repeater provided additional coverage up and down the Interstate 66 corridor. Additionally, the relatively central location of this machine provides backup coverage into areas already served by the other machines.


During the year 2001 we made a trip to Fork Mountain to replace the link antenna with a brand new Comtelco 5 element beam. The Comtelco beam is very rugged and should be capable of withstanding the severe winter weather at the site better than the previous two antennae that were used at the site, we hope. In December the NERA system was expanded to High Knob Mountain near Linden Virginia through the addition of the N1TXI machine. This machine is sponsored and maintained by K4QJZ and N1TXI and will fill in nicely up and down the I-81 corridor. There are also plans in the offing to have this machine provide cross-band repeat operation in early 2002.

Through the efforts of VE7LTD and his Internet Radio Linking Project the linked NERA system now provides worldwide telecommunications via amateur radio through an Internet interface. The system currently covers most Canadian provinces, Hawaii, Alaska, Great Britain, Germany, Australia, The Caribbean and many states throughout the contiguous United States with new nodes coming on-line almost daily. If you've not used the IRLP before, please refer to KWARC's IRLP Page for valuable guidance.


Late in 2012 NERA added a digital P25 input mode to its main 449.975 repeater. The receiver is located in NW DC on a tower with the antenna at 450 feet. The input is on 444.975 wideband with an NAC of 293. The received P25 signal is transmitted via FM link to the main site where it is retransmitted FM on 449.975. (Note that you must set your radio to mixed mode receive if you are transmitting P25 and listening to the main site,) Experience shows that the received coverage of this new site is somewhat better in the DC metro area than the regular FM input. The clarity and crispness of the digital signal is quite apparent to the user. Please note that use of the NERA system is restricted to members only, except for transients, and also for public service events that have been arranged in advance.

Also late in 2012 NERA rebuilt, reactivated, and expanded the site of its currently non-linked VHF repeater in Germantown, Maryland. Located just off Interstate 270, this repeaterís antennas are at 390 feet and provide excellent coverage of Montgomery and Frederick counties, as well as some coverage into Northwest DC. Best of all, this repeater consists of two separate systems, one being analog FM and the other P25 digital. Both systems at this site are wideband. What you input to this repeater is what is transmitted, but it can only handle one mode or the other at a time. The FM analog input has a PL of 156.7, and the P25 requires an NAC of 293. Input frequency for both systems is 147.870 and the output, again for both systems, is 147.270. Our plan is that this repeater will eventually be linked to the NERA UHF system but at this time (January 2013) it is a standalone repeater. Please also note that, at this time, this repeater is open for all to use.


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