History of the C.A.R.L.A. System
The C.A.R.L.A. System was initially being developed in the early 80's and was revived due to the Coalinga earthquake that shook the area on May 2, 1983. Skip Hamer, N6IRF, and another amateur, Jack Ebury, W6IYY were engaged in conversation with each other about plans for C.A.R.L.A. via telephone between the S.F. Bay Area and Coalinga just before the earthquake struck. That connection went dead and most other lines were inaccessible due to equipment and cable problems as well as available circuits being overwhelmed by locals trying to make calls.
Amateurs responding to the emergency opened up communications channels back to the S.F. Bay Area, and traffic was conveyed and handled through that vital link of repeaters.
However, many problems occurred while trying to provide the necessary communications into and out of the area, the most important of which were unreadable audio from re-repeated transmissions via remote base radios, and interference from intermod as well as other amateurs unaware of the severity of the situation. Perhaps most critically of all, repeaters not dropping quickly enough for someone to talk in from the Bay Area caused major delays in allowing urgently needed questions regarding official support efforts to be asked.
From that point on, several concepts, designs and studies for establishing an elaborate network of linked 440Mhz and 1.2GHz repeaters was developed in order to connect any area of the state with another during an emergency or disaster. There were many individuals and local organizations involved with the pre-planning stages. There were to be a total of 29 sites; 19 located in California, 5 in Arizona and 5 in Nevada. As fate would have it, the scope had diminished over time as did the level of interest, available funds and politics, but the desire to keep the spirit of providing reliable systems to different areas and eventually have them capable of linking with each other is still alive and moving forward.
We try to place our repeater systems in areas that serve well locally and that can link together to help disseminate radio traffic and vital information between areas that may become isolated or overwhelmed during an emergency or disaster. Our systems have been in use in varying situations for communications from public sponsored charity walks, races and special events to disaster training sessions, search and rescue efforts, fires, floods and earthquakes.
As with any not for profit endeavor, it has cost tens of thousands of dollars to purchase, implement and maintain the systems we have in place today. No small feat by any means for a small handful of people committed to a hobby. Nonetheless, we heartily welcome support from those individuals who enjoy and benefit from the use of our systems and believe in what we are trying to accomplish.
By no means is C.A.R.L.A. a completed project. It is a continuously evolving venture looking for ways to improve itself and implement the features and resources that we would like to see it offer. The only requirements for using any of the systems is that you are a licensed Amateur Radio Operator and that we ask you to use good amateur practice while using our network of machines. You are not required to contribute to or support C.A.R.L.A. unless you would like to. Please review our website and Support page for more information on supporting our efforts. Again, welcome and thanks for your use and support of our systems.
The California Amateur Radio Linking Association