From Necessity to Innovation
The Lite-Link Portable Radio Repeater System was designed in 1994 by Dirk de Jager, President of Chroma Communications. He was also a long-time member on a well-known Search and Rescue (SAR) team in British Columbia, Canada.
De Jager had been involved in SAR since 1972. Out of frustration with the team’s constant communication difficulties in the mountainous terrain, and out of necessity for a suitable solution, de Jager designed and built the first Lite-Link Portable Repeater.
This unique repeater was unlike anything else available at the time. It was small enough and light enough to be added to a team member’s backpack. It was designed to be operational within minutes, and it could be set up anywhere, in any weather, to create a radio link between out-of-range radio units.
Now, on the 20th Anniversary of its development, we’d like to share the story of the Lite-Link’s first debut in 1994.
1994 – Lite-Link Hits the SAR Scene
Team members were slogging through a deep, snow-filled gorge searching for two lost skiers. The difficult terrain and serious threat of avalanches heightened the need for good radio communication. Yet the deep gorge stifled direct transmission to the command truck, located 1,000 feet above on the opposite side of the mountain.
In those days, the team usually had to overcome such problems by using voice relays, this time they introduced a new tool to finally eliminate the problem – a Lite-Link Portable Repeater.
The early Lite-Link Cross-Band model
The beauty of this portable repeater is that we can place it exactly where we need it, when we need it, without going to the expense of installing and maintaining four or five fixed repeaters, in a variety of locations, to cover our vast terrain.
– Dirk de Jager (Chroma PR Archives, 1994).
Without the repeater, we would have been unable to have reliable radio communication between the command truck and those field units who were in the most dangerous terrain. The alternative would have been voice relays with the problems of lag time in communication and the potential for error. There’s no question that it greatly enhanced our management of the search operation.
– North and West Vancouver Emergnecy Program Coordinator, (Chroma PR Archives, 1994).