Grant: Greater Merrimack Valley Digital Network

Date: June 2023
Amount: $46,125

The Merrimack Valley Amateur Radio Association, Inc. (MVARA, call sign N1MVA) was formed in 2022 by local ARES members with a goal to establish themselves as an organization that can both own equipment and fundraise to support their mission of promoting emergency communications. They do this by deploying, operating, and maintaining amateur radio communications infrastructure, which serves the community and provides disaster relief services in times of emergency. The New England Digital Emergency Communications Network (NEDECN) comprises more than 90 amateur digital mobile radio (DMR) repeaters serving New England. They support local amateur radio groups via funding for network expansion and enhancing local communications. Additionally, they provide special event communications for events such as the Boston Marathon and also support hams who enjoy the outdoors in remote areas without cell service.

For the past three years, local hams have operated a 4-node AREDN. In addition to these RF links, there are many internet tunnel links for both training and network maintenance, which at any given time, increase the network size to about 30 nodes. This grant will provide funding for MVARA to collaborate with NEDECN to extend the aforementioned AREDN digital RF network to 18 sites both locally within the Merrimack Valley, as well as to the neighboring states of MA and ME. They intend to do this by interconnecting the NEDECN DMR sites with microwave radio links, which will serve as a backup during internet disruptions. As a result, they will have a more resilient system that will serve and support a larger population for routine and emergency communications.

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