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The Southern Alberta Repeater Association's focus is on linking amateur radio repeaters throughout Alberta. To this end, SARA maintains a network of UHF Hub repeaters, UHF link radios, and a few 2m drop repeaters. Most of the repeaters that you will be using are maintained by local clubs and individuals. By linking your local repeater onto the SARA backbone, you can extend the reach of your handheld or mobile VHF radio across the province, and beyond. Once your local repeater is linked to the SARA backbone, you have direct access to any of the other drop repeaters, as well as other linking systems in the province.

THE RULES

There aren't many rules to remember, but none-the-less they are still very important.

The system is open to all licensed amateur radio operators.

HOW TO ACCESS THE SARA SYSTEM

Each and every drop repeater has two DTMF codes; an on code and an off code. By entering the on code, you link the associated drop repeater to the SARA backbone. The off code will disconnect the associated drop repeater from the SARA backbone.

Lets say from Edmonton we want to call a station in Calgary.

Step One:

Access the local drop repeater VE6NHB 145.410 (-600). Make sure no one is on the repeater. Then you must connect the repeater to the "party line" or the system. As mentioned before, most of the repeaters on the SARA system are normally left in the OFF position. To connect or bring VE6NHB on-line give the repeater call followed by your call sign and punch in the DTMF code 654*.  "VE6NHB... VE6SRV" 654*. You should hear a voice reply alerting you to the fact the repeater is now enabled. If nothing is heard, try again. Not all DTMF pads on amateur radios are created equal.

Step Two:

Now listen to make sure no one else is on the system. Now we want to enable our destination repeater in Calgary. That repeater is VE6OIL. So following the same procedure that we used to bring VE6NHB on-line we now will turn on VE6OIL. Once again, first give the repeater call sign, then yours and the DTMF code 660*.  "VE6OIL... VE6SRV" 660*.  Again, you should hear a voice response. If not, try again.  Most of the repeaters on the SARA system use voice responses, some however, use a CW response.

Step Three:

We are there. You have connected Edmonton to Calgary. It's that simple!  Again, listen to make sure no one is using the VE6OIL repeater. If not simply call your station or give a general CQ.  Follow normal operating procedure. Give your intended station's call followed by yours.  "VE6XYZ...VE6SRV".  Carry on your QSO, then reverse the procedure to take the repeaters off line, but this time we use the down codes. These codes are the second set of numbers in the directory listing.  Let's go through the procedure.

Step Four:

Once you have finished using the destination repeater we ask you take the system down. This can be done by either station. Sometimes, it is safer if you are mobile to let the station on base or portable take the system down.  First, give the call of the destination repeater, then your call and ( still using Calgery as our example) the DTMF code 661*. "VE6OIL...VE6SRV" 661*. The voice or CW identifier will tell you the repeater is off-line.

Step Five:

Once you have heard the destination repeater go off line then repeat the procedure for the local repeater. Again, give the repeater call sign followed by yours and (still using VE6NHB as our example) the DTMF code 655*.  "VE6NHB...VE6SRV" 655*. You will hear the repeater go off line.

IRLP (The Internet Radio Linking Project)

IRLP allows users to link repeaters via a internet connection. There are two connection modes for an IRLP connection:  Direct one-to-one, and one-to-many via a Reflector.

SARA has an IRLP node connected to the UHF backbone.

Because some reflectors, are very busy SARA RESTRICTS ACCESS TO REFLECTORS.  The reason is due to the half duplex structure of IRLP. If the connection to the reflector is constantly transmitting.  The IRLP node cannot be shut off.  Only during a break in the conversations can the connection be disconnected.  This could tie up the SARA network for hours.

MAKING A DIRECT IRLP CONNECTION