Overview - The W6FNO repeater initially went on the air around 1962, to provide a common channel for reporting highway emergencies and to support the American Red Cross & ARES during emergencies. When not supporting these efforts, it has served as a general calling channel. Users would establish communications and then move off to a simplex channel or a 440 repeater to chat. Initially, W6FNO operated using the output frequency of 146.76 MHz and later moved to 146.70/146.82, to allow 146.76 to remain a simplex channel in the LA basin. Later when the 2-meter channel plan was adopted, the repeater moved to a uniform 600 kHz split of 146.22/146.82 MHz, where it remains today.
As the licensee, I cannot take credit for the outstanding success of the repeater over the more than 45 years in operation. I merely served as the licensee, while the real work was done by the many selfless volunteers of the Edgewood Amateur Radio Society (W6NRY) and orchestrated tirelessly by William (Bill) L. Carpenter (WA6QZY). The countless awards from public and private organizations for W6FNO and EARS assisting them during emergencies or parades, are the result of countless hours provided by these generous amateurs.
Technically, the repeater simulcasts a transmitter at Johnstone Peak in San Dimas with a lower powered transmitter at Onyx Peak (9114'), just east of Big Bear Lake. Receivers are at both locations and additional satellite receivers are utilized to improve hand-held coverage in the LA basin. The system is funded by private donations from within the organization.
When the repeater first began, numerous amateurs volunteered their time and equipment to "get it right" and "keep it going." Some of these were Ken Sessions (K6MVH), Jack Bankson (AD6AD), and Don Milbury (W6YN). Much was required, including building materials & labor, generators, propane tanks, radios, link hardware, control equipment, and lots of labor to bring it all together. Over these many years, W6FNO has assisted in saving lives and property, and we hope this tradition will continue for many years to come.
Operational - The repeater operates with a 30 second transmission timer. This is to discourage long conversations. Most people use the repeater as a calling channel. We don't mind a short QSO of a minute or two, but if you want to talk longer, move to another channel. Originally, the repeater's mission was to serve as a calling channel and to report highway emergencies. With the profusion of cell phones today, most hams prefer to contact 911 directly. This has led to the repeater not being monitored 24/7.
Technical - The system employs two repeaters, simulcasting the same audio on both. The primary repeater covering the most populated area is on Johnstone Peak (2,705 ft), above San Dimas. There are several satellite receivers linked back to the primary repeater.
The second repeater is on
Onyx Peak (9,101ft), just east of Big Bear Lake. This repeater operates
with less than 50 watts ERP and is solar powered. There is a radio link connecting them.
(note: due to a lightning strike, the link between the sites is down)