Why 70 cm?
One of the most frequent questions we are asked is why are there so many 70 cm (UHF) repeaters in the NI4CE system? The simple answer is that coordinated VHF frequency pairs are hard to come by. The Florida Repeater Council grants all frequency coordinations on a first come – first served basis. We are fortunate to have 145.430 MHz at our Verna site in Central Manatee County.
70 cm (UHF) frequency pairs, on the other hand, are more readily available. As some of the myths about 70 cm repeaters have been debunked and more dual-band VHF-UHF radios have become available, Hams have embraced 70 cm operation with great results.
The NI4CE system currently five 70 centimeter UHF repeaters:
• 442.95 MHz co-located with 145.43 in Verna (Central Manatee County)
• 443.450 MHz at Holiday (Pasco County)
• 442.825 MHz at Bartow in Central Polk County
• 442.550 MHz at Riverview in Hillsborough County
• 443.950 MHz at Lake Placid in Southern Highlands County
Our development of these communications resources now provides the nearly ten thousand licensed Amateur Radio operators in our area with a seamless, linked communications system that blankets Florida’s West Coast from Citrus County (North) into Lee County (South) and extends inland as far East as Orlando. The NI4CE system provides excellent mobile coverage along the I-75 corridor from Brooksville South through Charlotte County and along the I-4 corridor from Tampa to Orlando. You will also find seamless mobile coverage along the US17 corridor in Polk, Hardee, DeSoto, and Charlotte Counties and along the US27 corridor in Glades, Highlands, and Polk Counties.
The NI4CE’s use of 70 centimeter UHF repeaters provides area Hams with several unique communications opportunities. The shorter wavelength of the 70 centimeter UHF band allows more fluent access from inside steel and concrete structures, including office buildings, warehouses, and houses. This shorter wavelength allows users to achieve higher gain with shorter antennas. This better enables the use of handheld, portable transceivers when weather conditions make the use of external antennas dangerous. Hams living in Deed Restricted communities will also find it easier to operate on NI4CE 70 centimeter repeaters, enabling them to remain active in the Amateur Radio Service. 70-centimeter antennas can be easily mistaken for over-the-air television antennas. 70-centimeter antennas can also more easily be located in attics if external mounting is not an option.
All NI4CE analog repeaters, both VHF and UHF, utilize a CTCSS tone of 100Hz. Our use of CTCSS (both transmit and receive) enables operators to configure their transceivers to eliminate squelch crashes and errant intermod signals that are prevalent in high RF locales.
The NI4CE system is on the air for all licensed Radio Amateurs to use. Plug it into your VHF/UHF radios and use it often. We also encourage you to participate in the many informational and emergency Nets conducted on the NI4CE system.