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Last Updated August 15, 2012
Telephone Pioneers Amateur Radio Club
TPARC is dedicated to promoting the use of Amateur Radio Networking to support emergency data communications.
Our goal is to provide a wide-area, linked, data repeater network that facilitates digital communications between communities and Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) Headquarters offices in BC.
TPARC is the founder and implementer of the BC Digital Emergency Services Network. TPARC conceived this public service project in 1989, under the visonary guidence of then president Farrell Hopwood, VE7RD (sk).
TPARC is a registered Canadian charity. We accept all monetary donations, as well as in-kind donations of suitable hardware. Tax receipts will be issued, where applicable. Contact the TPARC President (see below), if you wish to make a donation.
In 1989, then club President Farrel (Hoppy) Hopwood had a vision of being able to send text messages from our capital city, Victoria on Vancouver Island, to the interior city of Kamloops during a state of emergency. Hoppy felt that the use of voice messaging was too slow and at times inaccurate. He felt that if a message could be typed and sent out as packet file to the receiving station at high speed and printed as a hard copy, the number of messages sent could increase by six times.
Our original plan was to build all our own equipment with the exception of the radios. Over time it became apparent that this would not work.
Instead, Terminal Node Controllers (TNCs) were purchased. These modems had been in use in the Amateur community for many years. The radios would be supplied to us as surplus equipment by the British Columbia Telephone Company, now TELUS. The Harris radios were once used for the Autotel phone network as mobile radio telephones. They are UHF full duplex Mil. Spec. units that had to be modified to suit our necessary bandwidth.
We planned on interconnecting with existing NetROM and Internet Protocol (IP) based digital communications backbones serving the greater Vancouver, Vancouver Island and Seattle in Washington State with its connections. We also planned to interconnect to the Inter Provincial Amateur Radio Network (IPARN) satellite links that cover Canada through the Anik E-2 Satellite.
While some of those networks have ceased to exist over recent years, we still plan to undertake network affiliations that will help us add levels of redundancy to our systems.
Our current network has 29 TNC modems on our backbone. Sixteen of those are user interconnection switches at nine sites with the remaining thirteen acting as point to point 19k2 baud trunking switches on full duplex UHF.
This configuration, along with appropriately equipped amateur service (Ham) stations at the Provincial Regional Emergency Operations Centers (PREOCs) and at municipal emergency operations centers (EOCs), would allow the rapid transmission of communications in an emergency situation.
When not involved in emergency communications, the network is open to all licensed members of the amateur radio community for general digital communications.
Future plans will explore the possibility of overlaying a high-speed TCP/IP radio network on top of the core trunking route and providing high-speed drops to key network locations. These changes will ensure adequate bandwidth is available to handle the major volume of communications necessary during a full-scale emergency, as well as a redundant underlying network as a backup.
TPARC Project Team
The TPARC Team is made up of current and retired employees of BC Tel/TELUS.
The current Executive is:
TELUS Communications, formerly known as BC TEL, supports our initiatives by providing space at their radio sites as well as various surplus radios and equipment for our use. Along with the space and equipment, their antenna crews have installed tower mounted antennas to provide optimum coverage.
All the surplus equipment donated is commercial, carrier grade, quality. The sites are all equipped with uninterruptible power and are seismically hardened. We hope this should prevent network failures in the event of an earthquake.
The value of their contribution to our project is very small by corporate standards, however, to us, it is invaluable. Without it, our project costs would make building and maintaing our network impossible.
Without the aid from TELUS, this project would never have developed into the World Class packet network it is now.
PEP, (formerly ESS) has made a number of monetary and in kind grants to TPARC for the provisioning of digital switching equipment over the years. For more information regarding PEP contact our liaison, Bryan Farrar, VE7BFY
TPARC's network is used to connect the PEP headquarters in Victoria and Kamloops together via amateur radio using digital packet.
TPARC has established another strategic alliance with the BC Wireless Amateur Radio Network. BCWARN is an affiliation of participating amateur radio groups that are pooling their resources to create a high-speed TCP/IP based RF network between strategic locations.
With this affiliation, we are able to link some of our sites together with a high-speed 11MB/s TCP/IP trunk, versus our conventional UHF 19k2bps trunk links. We are continuing to develop this potential as we move forward.
BCWARN also provides us with server space to host this webpage, along with a connection to the greater internet for our other network services.