MARA A BRIEF HISTORY
Back in late 1979 Peter Russel, K1MJP (now K4POR) and Bruce Randall W1ZE (then WA6MUP) got together with a bunch of old 2 meter transmitter and receiver modules and decided to pot together a basic repeater to serve the hams mainly in the Bath and Brunswick mid coast area. While this was going on the word got out and other local hams wanted to help make the repeater happen with funds and moral support.
After the repeater was assembled and running on 146.34/94 (no PL) the gang of supporters gathered in Bruce’s basement family room in Phippsburg for cookies and adult beverages to inspect the final product. The conversation turned to, “why not set up a local repeater club” to continue to support the repeater and future projects. Since most of the supporters lived around the Merrymeeting Bay area in Sagadahoc county It was suggested and proposed club would be called the Merrymeeting Amateur Radio Association (MARA). The following year Pete managed to obtain a old VHF GE Master Pro transceiver that was easily tuned to the two meter band. By then it was decided to move the operating frequencies from 146.34/94 to 147.21/81 to reduce the possibility of co-channel problems. The club got permission to move the repeater to Mount Ararat in Topsham with the Station Master antenna on the State Fire lookout tower there. The repeater itself was housed in the Casco cable TV building.
Over the following years the 444.4 MHz repeater also made out of an old GE Mobil phone transceiver was added. Then Mike Everingham KA1OR built a telephone autopatch assembly and it was added to the two meter repeater.
After a half dozen years the MARA had to relocate the repeater because Casco Cable was no more. With the help of Bill Messier, K1MNW (SK) the repeater was temporally moved to Oak Hill in Brunswick. In 1993 the repeater got a new site on Cole’s Tower on the campus of Bowdoin College thanks to the efforts of Pete Russell, a tech employee of the college. After Pete retired from the college we lost the site because the college needed the tower building rooftop for other college needs. Again Bill Messier invited us to relocate back to Oak hill. Following the move Bill and Bruce assembled a 23 cM FM repeater and then Donnie Dauphin, WD1F obtained a UHF D-Star repeater and its antenna was mounted atop Bills big hilltop tower.
Today all the MARA repeaters and packet node are located on the high tower at Donnie’s (WD1F) QTH in Phippsburg, with a second 444.4 Fusion C4FM repeater located at the QTH of Robert, W1TON in West Gardner.