Merrimack Valley ARA (MVARA) Achieves 501.c.3 Status and ARRL Affiliation

Merrimack Valley ARA logoThe Merrimack Valley Amateur Radio Association (MVARA) had its first meeting this evening having achieved several milestones in its effort to build on recent successes in providing mesh network back-up for NEDECN DMR repeaters.  The club plans to expand its network of interconnected hospitals and repeater sites and it is now positioned to apply for grant funding.  In addition, the club’s ARRL affiliation makes it possible to obtain ARRL support, available to all affiliated clubs.

With the focus on mesh expansion in New Hampshire and grant funding recently secured in Maine and Rhode Island, the expansion of interconnected amateur communications networks throughout New England is making visible progress.

The MVARA Officers and Directors are:

President – Jay Taft K1EHZ

Vice President – John Yurcak K9AEN

Secretary – Steve Nelson WA1EYF

Membership Secretary – Paul Blais KC1KMM

Treasurer – Ken Geddes N1KWG


Bill Barber NE1B

Steve Davidson NA1T

Jack Duffy NF1L

Ed Leduc KA1IJN

If you or your club wants to start a mesh network in New England, contact Rob, K1UI at, and he’ll put you in touch with those folks who can help.

RFI Teams in New England Continue to Grow

The Eastern MA Section has three new RFI team members, Ed K1EP, Stan, KD1LE and Mark, KA1INE.  This brings the total number of team members in EMA to seven and to a total of 29 in the New England Division.  Team information is found at New England Division RFI Teams by ARRL Section – ARRL New England Division. All deserve recognition for stepping up to support their fellow radio amateurs and several cases are already in progress.  Negotiations for the team equipment have been completed and orders will be placed on receipt of approved ARDC grant funds, expected in the next few days.  Distribution and equipment training is planned for the next several months.  Any questions about the RFI Team project should be sent to Assistant Director for Spectrum Protection and Use, Rob Leiden, K1UI, at

NEDECN and MVARA Mesh Network Link Up in NH

Jay, K1EHZ and Bill, NE1B, report NEDECN (New England Digital Emergency Communications Network)  has signed a collaboration agreement with the Merrimack Valley Amateur Radio Association (MVARA).

Under this agreement NEDECN provides space on its towers, where feasible, for MVARA microwave mesh network equipment. 
MVARA has operated a microwave network in Manchester (NH) for 3 years.
It connects Elliot Hospital, Catholic Medical Center, Manchester EOC and
Manchester Radio Group. As an IP-based network, it can carry most services
the internet provides.

An MVARA 5GHz link between Crotched Mt and Mt Uncanoonuc is now passing DMR traffic from the Crotched Mt repeater to the Mt Uncanoonuc repeater site. Traffic is then routed to the internet via an NEDECN 5GHz link between Mt Uncanoonuc and Bow, NH that has been in place since 2016.
First suggested by Steve Berry, N1EZ, following a New England Division Town Hall, this cooperation between NEDECN and ARES Mesh systems offers digital repeater operators backup internet linking and the capability for remote monitoring of the sites and ARES Mesh networks with high sites for further expansion.
This achievment represents a significant accomplishment towards the goal of creating a New England-wide emergency communications system that includes  commercial system-independent linking.
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Barnstable ARC Hosts Big E Amateur Radio on Massachusetts Day, September 22, 2022

It was a rainy day to be at the Big E but four of the Barnstable’s (Cape Cod) club members enjoyed their day of meeting with the public and operating FT-8 via Remote Ham Radio and 70 cm FM on the D-Star HT and Icom transceiver.  It helped that 10 meters and 15 meters were open and stations from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia and all over Europe got into the log. 

Larry, W1AST, was there to greet us in the AM and got us started.  Many thanks go out to Larry and his support team for organizing the amateur radio demonstration booth at the event. 

Amateur radio at the Big E will also host the “Space Chat” the afternoon of 9/27 with hams and their families getting in free that day (bring a copy of your license). 

Barnstable ARC club members staffing the ham radio booth at The BIG E
L-R: Rob, K1UI; Chris, WA1CMR; Jake, W1JKM; and Mark, WA1EXA.  Photo courtesy Chris, WA1CMR

New England Division Receives ARDC RFI Equipment Grant

ARDC has approved a request for RFI hunting equipment for each of the seven sections in the New England Division.  The funds should be received in the next few weeks and orders placed for the equipment soon after.  Included is both an antenna set and an HF/VHF/UHF transceiver with a spectrum scope.  Distribution to each section will accompany training on the equipment.  In addition, some high-end equipment will remain in the custody of the Division for sharing when needed in addition to any the ARRL Lab will provide on loan.  Any questions can be directed to Rob, k1UI, Assistant New England Director, Spectrum Protection and Use.

NEDECN and Merrimack Valley Mesh Network Pilot

The New England Digital Emergency Communications Network (NEDECN) operates an extensive system of DMR repeaters connected through the commercial internet.  Some sites utilize mesh network nodes for repeater control and monitoring.

Bill Barber, NE1B and Jay Taft, K1EHZ are working on a pilot to interconnect 5.8 GHz mesh nodes between the Merrimack Valley mesh network and NEDECN mesh nodes in NH to demonstrate that use of NEDECN sites provides an effective way to expand both networks with the following benefits:

  1.  Enhanced remote site visual and spectral monitoring
  2.  Expanded network footprint for increased reliability
  3.  Better backup of internet connections between NEDECN repeaters
  4.  Potential high site paths to connect geographically separate mesh networks.

The first pilot is expected to be performed in September/October 2022. 

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RFI Team Experience – Some Lessons Learned

The RFI Teams are starting to gain some experience with use of the on-line troubleshooting guide to help hams experiencing RFI issues.

One common problem is hams not using the guide and decision tree to eliminate RFI sources in the house by opening the main breaker. 

Another is contacting the team lead without completing the form that the team uses to help troubleshoot. For the teams to be effective as well as to build a useful body of case information, the process needs hams to do the pre-team investigation.

Hams that have questions about the process after starting their investigation can email me at so we can help you and/or improve the web pages.

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Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) Web-Based Help to Roll Out in 4th Quarter

Every new power-dependent technology has also produced an ever-increasing number of RFI generating devices.  Solar generators, LED’s, power line faults, charging devices and many other sources pollute the amateur radio spectrum and impact its effective use.  The New England Division, with the cooperation of Ed Hare, W1RFI and Steve Anderson, W1EMI at the ARRL Lab, has created a program to assist hams to identify and eliminate or reduce RFI in the ham shack.

The final phase of a project to provide a web-based RFI troubleshooting process is planned for the fourth quarter of this year.  The web pages are in place and the teams to assist New England hams to use them have been established in each section.  The pages feature:

and many other references that help hams identify RFI sources,

To use the process, a ham first performs the checks outlined in the decision tree.  If that doesn’t identify the noise source, the ham then fills out a form explaining what was done and sends it to the section RFI team together with a spectrum file if available.  The RFI team then works with the ham to help identify and eliminate the RFI.  If necessary, the case is forwarded to the ARRL and then, if still unresolved, to the FCC.  

Two RFI-related forums are planned for the Marlboro HamXposition in late August.  Annette, KA1RFI and Rob, K1UI will discuss the partnership between radio amateurs and Eversource of New Hampshire to identify and correct power line – related RFI.  Rob will then lead an RFI team forum where RFI team tools will be available for demonstration.  Some of these were evaluated by the RFI teams at their June meeting. 

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Rhode Island Team Completes RFI Team Staffing

With the addition of the Rhode Island Team of Keith, W1KJR, Scott, WX1X and Norm, W1NEP, all seven New England sections now have RFI teams to assist hams having RFI issues in their shacks.  Most sections would still welcome volunteers to serve as members or alternates if needed so, if interested, please contact your Section Manager or Technical Coordinator.  The team members and contact information for your section can be found on the New England RFI Team page.

RFI Team Equipment Tookits are Defined

At a June 5, 2022 New Hampshire meeting of the New England RFI teams, a set of tools obtained for team use was demonstrated, along with some more sophisticated equipment available for loan, brought by Steve Anderson, W1EMI, of the ARRL Lab.  The teams evaluated these and selected those to be obtained for the use of each team, to be loaned from the ARRL or loaned from a New England division inventory as needed.  These may now be seen on the RFI Team Toolkit webpage.  Action is in progress to obtain funds to procure this equipment for each team and for sharing within the New England Division.