The Condor Connection


The Condor Connection is an integrated network of privately owned
repeaters. The system covers most of California from below the Mexican
border to North Central California, and parts of Arizona and Nevada.
The system is intended for long-range VHF communications, so its
operation differs greatly from a normal repeater. System inputs are on
the 1.25 Meter (222 MHz) band and use continuous-tone-coded squelch
system(PL/CTCSS) tones to reduce interference. The Condor Connection is
open to all licensed amateurs. There are no clubs supporting the system
and no dues are accepted.

All ports of the Condor Connection are online and active at all times,
unless there's a need to separate an individual port for an emergency or
a public service event. To users, the system functions like one wide area
coverage repeater.

Stu Burritt, W6TLG,(Silent Key) and Mark Gilmore, WB6RHQ devised the
concept for the Condor Connection in late 1978. Many of the early objectives
of the system were outlined by Stu.

The Condor Connection began as a dream with four goals:
(1) To develop the then underused 222-225 MHz band in Southern California
and to encourage more amateurs to use 1.25 meter radios. This would in
turn provide amateur radio dealers an incentive to market and develop new
and improved radios for this band.

(2) The owners also wanted to learn and develop the technology to build a
high-performance linked system on 222-225 MHz.

(3) There was a strong desire to create an open system to all amateurs
to provide communications between northern and southern California,
especially in case of a major disaster. That capability was proven during
the San Francisco/Loma Prieta earthquake in October of 1989, the Landers
earthquake in June of 1992, and the Northridge earthquake in January of
1994, when the Condor Connection was used around the clock for days to
handle emergency and health and welfare traffic.

(4) Finally, to provide fun and enjoyment for the owners, control operators,
and users.


Linking was accomplished on the low end of the 220 MHz band prior to the
FCC decision to reallocate the bottom 2 MHz of the band. Many people worked
to relocate the links to the 420 MHz band. It proved to be quite a challenge
to coordinate frequencies and system logistics to maximize efficiency and
minimize system downtime.

The Condor Connection uses PL/CTCSS rather than carrier squelch for several
reasons. Some repeaters in the system are co-channeled with other machines and
have overlapping coverage. Implementation of PL/CTCSS is therefore a mandatory
part of frequency coordination. Tropospheric ducting is common to the South-
western United States, especially in the summer, and the resulting enhanced
propagation, further complicates the co-channeling situation. Most of the
system's repeaters are on the highest and most desirable mountains available,
which means they share space with commercial, government, and other amateur
broadcasting systems. The result is occasional interference from intermod-
ulation and high site noise levels. Rather than lose the superior coverage of
a popular site, PL/CTCSS allows repeaters to work within the environment. If
any repeater on the system is interfered with, that interference is heard on
every port and is multiplied by the number of repeaters in the system.

The system is built mostly of converted surplus land mobile radios. The
control and audio circuits were designed to command the system from any port.
Because of the hostile mountaintop environments, heavy-duty commercial antennas
are used. All sites have emergency power backup. The Condor Connection was
designed for high reliability and performance.

The next time you're in the Southwestern U.S., please feel welcome to use
and enjoy the system.

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