Tour 3 – History

The Colorado Connection began when George DiLetto (KDØRW) installed the 145.355 MHz repeater in Parker, Colorado. In 1987, George got together with Ron Dump (KDØWT), whose 145.445 MHz repeater east of Leadville on Mosquito Pass had coverage into Parker. Soon, these two hams linked their repeaters together. This provided the path to link machines on the western slope with their eastern cousins, giving birth to the Colorado Connection.

During the following two years, the 147.285 MHz repeater atop Fremont Peak near Salida and the 146.985 MHz repeater on the Anvil Points west of Rifle were linked to the Mosquito Pass machine. Soon thereafter, the 145.400 MHz repeater west of Denver was linked to the Parker site. These five repeaters provided coverage from Utah to the west, New Mexico to the south, the central Colorado mountains, the Denver metro area, and the eastern plains of Colorado.  Sadly, due to frequent lighting strikes resulting in expensive repairs, we were forced to remove the Rifle repeater around 2009.  We were able to increase coverage of the Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs repeaters to fill in the gap left along I-70 when Rifle was decomissioned.

Ron Dump (KDØWT), after presentation of a plaque in his honor, with Paul (WBØQMR), Tony (NAØUS), and Linda (K0LLH), at the 1996 Connection picnic. The next year, six repeaters were added. The 146.730 MHz machine near Walsenburg provided coverage south to Raton Pass and into southeastern Colorado. Greg (NØBDK) sold this repeater to the Pueblo club in 1994 and it’s no longer part of the Connection.

Lee (KAØWIN), Mallory (NØIKF), and John (KBØEDL) helped add the 146.910 MHz and 449.500 MHz machines providing VHF and UHF coverage to Colorado Springs. The Connection lost the UHF site after a few months and the allocation on VHF has changed to the current one on 145.130 MHz. In the late fall of 1995, this repeater moved to a new location, providing coverage to much of the area the Walsenburg site provided in the past.

The gem of the system is the 145.310 MHz repeater on Mt. Thorodin southwest of Boulder. At 10,550 feet, coverage was added to many more areas of the state. Don (KEØIU), Frank (KD7AN), Fred (NØFIA), Chuck (ABØMR), and Greg (NØGVS) all helped George DiLetto in the effort to get the Thorodin site online.

GE Master II repeater at the original 145.310 MHz Mt. Thorodin site. Frank and a few others brought a 449.300 MHz UHF repeater into the fold in Cheyenne as well. Sadly, this machine only lasted for several months as a Connection link into Wyoming. As the Connection grew, other repeater groups would join, dropping out at later dates.

For a short time there was even a 224.260 MHz repeater in Grand Junction. The 220 machine linked into Rifle, but didn’t remain part of the Connection for long. Again, other groups affiliated with us, but didn’t remain full time.

Paul (WBØQMR) helped link the 147.320 MHz repeater near Breckenridge adding coverage to much of the central mountains. The donated repeater was crystalled for this unusual frequency so it was used until the allocation was changed to 146.790 MHz. This site acts as one end of the path over the Continental Divide, with the 145.310 repeater as the other.  Due to noise issues, we were forced to move the frequency to 147.390 with an 88.5hz tone in 2013.

In 1989, The Colorado Connection Repeaters, Inc. was formed as a non-profit corporation, with George, Sheryle, and Rich Musat as the board of directors. In 1990, the ARRL recognized George DiLetto as the Colorado Radio Amateur of the year.

George DiLetto (KDØRW) with his wife Sheryle (NNØA) receiving the Colorado Amateur of the Year award in 1990. Following installation at the Thorodin site, the 145.400 MHz machine was moved to Akron. Next, the Holyoke Amateur Radio Club began an affiliation with the Connection as well, linking their 146.955 MHz repeater into Akron. The Holyoke group withdrew affiliation with the Connection in 1994.

Our site in Kremmling was allocated to Bill Sheffield (KQØJ). His 147.075 MHz machine links into Thorodin, giving us coverage in the north central part of the state. Originally, the site used his equipment. The Connection donated another repeater to the site after the original failed. Kremmling is still maintained by Bill and other Connection volunteers.

Summer of 1994 saw the move of the DiLetto family to Houston, Texas. With their move the 145.355 MHz repeater was removed from Parker and Chuck Vancil (ABØMR) became trustee for the Connection. Chuck served in that capacity until December of 1994. Robert Warren became trustee in December of 1994 and served in that capacity until December of 1995. Tony Ferris (NAØUS) served as repeater trustee from 1995 through 1999. Currently, the Connection has it’s own callsign – KBØVJJ. Perhaps one day the Connection will get our own vanity call with a simple to remember acronym.

1994 also saw a new addition to the Connection. The 147.285 MHz repeater in Grand Junction became part of the Connection in July. Although the repeater doesn’t have as wide area coverage as some of its cousins, it does provide excellent coverage for our Grand Junction area users and the valley south towards Delta and Montrose. Thanks to Larry Ball (WØIOL) and Ted Wetzel (KEØTY) for their hard work in getting this site operational.   Since that time, the repeater was relocated to on top of the Grand Mesa and now uses a frequency of 145.355 MHz with a 123hz tone.  The coverage has greatly improved since this move, allowing it to reach as far west as Green River, Utah at times!

Antenna work on the tower at the old 145.355 MHz repeater site in Parker. 1995 saw several corporate changes. The Board of Directors was changed to include George DiLetto (KDØRW), Paul Shackelford (WBØQMR), Tony Ferris (NAØUS), and Harv Sims (WB6YXD). In 1996, Linda Hill (K0LLH) was added to the board. In 1997 Harv resigned and Bill Jacobson (KBØNWM) took his place. In January, 1998, Dave Blaylock (NØPEO) joined the board. In April of 1998, the Board of Directors reluctantly accepted the resignation of the founder, George DiLetto. Tony Ferris resigned in August, 1999.

We added our first of what we hope are many duplex links in the system in 1995. The Mt. Thorodin site (145.310 MHz) moved into a new building. With this move, a UHF linking repeater was added at that site. East and west slope users are now linked via UHF between Mt. Thorodin and the Mt. Baldy (147.390 MHz) site. New linking methods improved audio quality to the best we’ve ever seen. Of note, if you hear a fast ‘K’ proceed signal, you’ll know signal was generated by direct VHF input to the 145.310 MHz repeater or a repeater that links to the 310 via VHF. If you hear a slow ‘K’ proceed signal, it was generated because the user was linking to the Mt. Thorodin site via a UHF link.

Subaudible tone was also added in 1995. This feature was added to reduce interference and in no way signifies a closed system. 1996 saw the addition of a voice controller to the 145.310 repeater. This controller announces the tone access requirement to users. Program your transceivers with a tone of 123.0 Hz for all Connection repeaters and you’ll never notice the difference when tone is enabled.

The Steamboat Springs club, through Dan (NØPRG), added a link in the northwest corner of the state. Craig hosts a repeater on 147.270 MHz which links to a 147.165 MHz repeater in Steamboat Springs and on to Mt. Baldy. Both these repeaters link full-time to the Connection, but belong to the Steamboat group.

In the spring of 1996, we installed another 147.285 MHz repeater 12 miles east of Limon at the Bighorn Amateur Radio Museum in Genoa. Unfortunately, the Bighorn Amateur Radio Club voted to discontinue hosting a Connection repeater at their site in April of 1997. If you know of a site we could occupy giving us coverage of the eastern I70 corridor send an E-Mail to W0IG.

July of 1996 saw the addition of the 147.345 MHz repeater near Vail. This long sought addition fills in the hole our coverage had from Vail Pass to Glenwood Canyon. Now it’s really possible to communicate virtually all the way across Colorado on Interstate 70! In 1998 the 146.850 MHz repeater on Sunlight Peak near Glenwood Springs was added. This repeater provides coverage throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and other areas around Glenwood Springs.