One of the repeaters set up near Cadair Idris. Photo: Aberdyfi SRT

One of the repeaters set up near Cadair Idris. Photo: Aberdyfi SRT

A Snowdonia rescue team is introducing a new radio system, which it hopes will improve communications during large callouts.

Aberdyfi Search and Rescue Team members took part earlier this month in a test of the digital VHF system on Cadair Idris, the scene of regular callouts for the rescuers.

Team volunteer Chris Dunn, who has been leading the implementation of the new system, said: “On a very simplistic level, the new digital handsets perform much the same task as our old analogue radios.

“However, the real magic of the system starts to happen once you introduce a repeater network. Analogue VHF handsets work on a line-of-sight basis, and their range can be greatly hampered in mountainous terrain.

“Digital signals can travel via the internet, so if a digital handset can contact an internet-enabled repeater, then it can communicate with any other handset with contact to any other repeater. Effectively, we should be able to achieve full communications from one side of the mountain to the other, which will be a massive boost when we have large operations on the mountain.”

The team said a good deal of work has gone on behind the scenes into calculating the positioning of repeaters to maximise radio coverage whilst at the same time trying to keep the number of expensive repeater sites to a minimum. During the trial members tested the coverage theories with some temporary repeater masts and a numerous people spread all over the mountain.

The resulting numbers are still being crunched, it said, but Mr Dunn said he was very encouraged by the experiment. “The predictions on coverage seem to hold true which is great. If anything, it was better than expected; we got coverage in some really notorious VHF blackspots on the mountain.

“We should once again mention that none of these massive improvements to our communications would have been possible without substantial and generous donations from charitable funds associated with Tywyn Co-op and HF Holidays, and we are extremely grateful for their support.”

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