The Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society owns and operates the W4RAT analog repeater on the SERA-coordinated frequency pair of 146.28/88 MHz. This repeater utilizes full CTCSS encoding and decoding at 74.4Hz. IRLP service is available.
The original 146.88 repeater signed on in 1971 from a location near Overbrook Rd and North Lombardy St in Richmond. It was a GE Progress Line (ProgLine) repeater with an antenna only about 80 feet in the air. RATS was formed in 1972, and in 1975 the repeater moved to its current home at WCVE-TV in southwest Richmond. Records are sparse, but sometime later it was upgraded to a GE MASTR II. Records from around 1997 show an antenna height of 482 feet at that time. A tower replacement provided an opportunity for upgrades, and a new Motorola MTR2000 repeater system was put in service with new antenna at 680 feet in 2003. That MTR2000 remains in service today. RATS appreciates WCVE's generosity in allowing us such excellent locations for our antennas and repeaters.
Autopatch service with emergency speed dial is available to active club members. This allows RATS members to make outbound telephone calls from anywhere within the W4RAT repeater footprint. NOAA Weather Radio alerts are carried during severe weather events (this functionality can be temporarily disabled by SKYWARN Net Controls). A battery bank provides short-term power for the repeater, and a UPS provides short-term power for IRLP and various monitoring and control systems. The entire repeater system is serviced by a large diesel generator maintained by our host TV station.
The VHF repeater is the primary Wakefield SKYWARN repeater for central Virginia and also serves ARES and other EMCOMM groups through written MOU's. All transmissions through the repeaters are recorded at the controller 24/7 for use in repeater performance monitoring and enforcement activities.
Before going on the air, repeater users should be familiar with the particulars of FM repeater operation, as well the RATS Repeater Rules & Policies and basic repeater etiquette. If you have questions about operating procedures or need other assistance with the repeater, please contact the RATS Technical Committee. We will be happy to help in any way we can. If you make regular use of the system, please consider club membership or a donation to show your support.
The repeater has a 2.5-minute timeout during normal operation and a minimum 2.5-second pause is enforced between transmissions 24/7, except during net modes. A courtesy tone is used during the day to aid in spacing transmissions. The timeout timer will not reset until the courtesy tone finishes playing. Please be courteous and space your transmissions to allow adequate time for other stations to join the conversation or break in to use the repeater.
Above: Map showing projected coverage of the W4RAT 146.88 MHz repeater, generated using Radio Mobile Online by Roger Coudé VE2DBE
W4RAT/R is a Motorola MTR 2000 repeater with a full featured Arcom controller and Digital Voice Recorders, a Decibel Products DB-224-E antenna on VHF and approximately 750 feet of 1-1/4-inch hard-line which feeds both the VHF analog and UHF DMR antennas. Our transmitter's output power is approximately 60 watts.