PVRA Repeater Club

P.O. Box 903
Manchester, CT 06045-0903


The Pioneer Valley Radio Association was founded in 1970 by K1NQJ, W1WHK, WA1DMX and WA1NXG, to provide amateurs with an organization in which each man had one vote in the operation and ownership of the club's equipment.  The club's first repeater was put on the air at Box Mountain in Vernon, Connecticut, just prior to the first organizational meeting, with full auto patch, 450 services and a six meter output and input link. The repeater was constructed by WA1DMX, WA1NXG, and others.

The first organizational meeting was held in the basement of the Message Center at 14 Haynes Street, Hartford, Connecticut, with some eighteen members present. This first meeting was devoted to the organization and structuring of the Club, and agreement to seek membership in the ARRL as an affiliated Club. Henry Zachs, owner of Message Center, provided the Club with the antenna site and space for the Vernon Repeater at no charge. 

Bruce, WA1NXG, served as the Club's President until the first general meeting in June, 1970, when Carl, W1FXK, was elected President.

With the club growing at a rate of eight to ten members a month, some of the Torrington members suggested a repeater in Torrington to cover Western Connecticut. It was so agreed at one of the membership meetings, a repeater was constructed and installed at the former site of WLCR-FM in Torrington. 

Shortly thereafter, one of our members, W1MBK, who was Chairman of the Board and President of the Hartford Insurance Group, suggested that his building be used as the site for a middle ground repeater between Torrington and Vernon. This was brought up to the membership at one of the subsequent meetings, and the construction and installation of the 146.04/64 repeater was approved. The Club then received the call signs WA1KGQ for the Vernon site, WA1KGY for the Torrington site and WA1KHA for the 146.04/64 site. 

The membership continued growing in 1971 Ernie, W1FPT, one of our members from Norwalk, suggested that we assume responsibility for the Naugatuck repeater operating on 147.18/78, that he and Dick, WA1NQP, had constructed. They felt that PVRA could operate the repeater better than two individual amateurs. It was unanimously approved at one of our meetings at the Howard Johnson's in Hartford, that we take this repeater under our wing. Ernie had donated the two meter equipment to us for use at this site. 

In 1971, the birth of the 85 repeater in Torrington began, with such notables as KJ1M, W1ZLV, Art; W1DND, Till; and W1EOO. 

In 1972, Steve, K1BYD, from Roxbury, approached us about affiliating his repeater in Danbury with the PVRA organization. At this time PVRA had approximately 175 members and it was voted and approved to assume responsibility for Steve's repeater in Roxbury, which was subsequently moved to W1RLC's house in Danbury and then to it's site in New Fairfield. We then applied to the FCC for our WR1 call signs which, after a long wait, were received by the Club for all its repeaters.

On June 23, 1972, over the 146.79 repeater came a call from our sister group in Paramus, New Jersey, W2AKR, requesting PVRA's help at the Wilkes-Barre flood.  A request came for operators, handheld radios, and repeaters that could be used in the Wilkes-Barre area to establish communications, during the aftermath of the flood.  Within hours a team was assembled which included Steve, K1BYD, Roger, K1PAI, Tom, W1JC, Till Avalone, W1DND, who was the Civil Preparedness Director in Torrington,  Bruce, WA1NXG, Carl, W1FXK, and Art, KJ1M.  All proceeded with several vehicles, one of WA1NXG's trucks, thousands of feet of cable, two repeaters, several antennas, and handheld radios, etc.  The team was successful in setting up several repeater sites, to cover the entire area,  which remained in service for several weeks, providing primary emergency communications for the area.  In fact, Bruce WA1NXG, climbed one of the broadcast towers at Electronics Heights in Avoca in the middle of the night, and didn't know how high the tower was;  not until Carl Dane yanked on the cable did he realize that he had played out 900 feet of antenna cable for the repeater!  The tower was 1200'!  The next morning Roger was able to work stations simplex in Albany, New York.

In 1975, a group of our members from Long Island, who had been using the Naugatuck repeater, recommended that PVRA install a repeater on Long Island. This was suggested because there were many W2 users on the Naugatuck repeater. A repeater on Long Island could cover Connecticut because the Naugatuck repeater had been covering Long Island very well. This was approved at a membership meeting at  in Wallingford.  This repeater was later sold back to the Long Island membership. 

In October 1979, on the day that the tornado struck in Windsor Locks, WA1NXG, and KA1BR were in conversation on the repeater, and Ray WA1ORT broke in with the words ' Break, Break'  Wolf then admonished Ray for using the word 'Break' because it is only used in an emergency.  Well Ray then yelled at the top of his lungs to Wolf  'This is an emergency, a tornado has just struck the airport and we have no communications,  I need a phone patch to the armory immediately!'.  At 3:07 PM a patch was made from Colonel Donald Joy to Colonel Madigan at the armory and the following words were said, ' Do not lose this communication link this is the only lifeline, we have to keep this line open.'  From that time on, for the next 24 hours the 146.79 repeater became the lifeline to Windsor Locks.  Ron, WB1ABJ was involved, W1FTE, Skip, left his insurance business (which had been demolished) and immediately went to the airport and helped provide emergency communications.  Bill Clede, K1AH also assisted and many, many, amateurs from the PVRA spent countless hours in support of the Salvation Army, and the Red Cross operations in the Windsor Locks area.  We received a commendation from the Mayors of Windsor Locks, Windsor, and the Salvation Army for our work during the aftermath of the tornado.

The PVRA has been involved in very notable events for charitable walk-a-thons, marathons, and other community service events.  One of the most notable has been our origination of the Santa Claus nets which were held during Christmas.  For several years, a statewide team consisting of Joe, WA1ZUS, Carl, W1FXK, and Al Jordan, WB1GKO who was our Santa Claus, spent countless hours in providing cheer for those children who could not be out of children's wards at Christmas time.  Other groups have copied our lead, but PVRA was the first to provide the Santa Claus nets. 

Soon after that, the Club authorized operation of the 220 repeater in Meriden, Connecticut under the call sign WR1ADO.  This 220 repeater was later removed due to loss of use of the location.  PVRA was the first in the world to put up a 220 repeater on the 1.6 MHZ spacing, was first to initiate 146.52 & 146.55  as the national simplex channels.  We were also the prime movers in getting a 600 KHZ band plan passed by the Northeast Repeater Association, and we have lobbied the Federal Communications Commission on various matters in support of the ARRL, for example, being able to pay it's operators to run W1AW, and other repeater regulation matters,  PVRA has been in the forefront of the radio communications art and repeater operations for years and we intend to do so in the future.