Over thirty years ago, the first N3KZ repeater went on the air from atop the Moore School of Engineering on the University of Pennsylvania main campus in Philadelphia. Soon thereafter, that first repeater was moved to a high-elevation location in Valley Forge where, due to its wide-area coverage, it soon became one of most heavily-used repeaters in the Philadelphia area. Over the years, many more N3KZ repeaters have been constructed, both linked and standalone, along with remote receivers added to improve portable talk-in coverage in densely-populated areas.
The purpose of the N3KZ repeaters is, and always has been, to provide wide-area coverage, with a focus on emergency communications and fostering intellectual discussion amidst amateur radio operators. The N3KZ repeaters provide a public service as robust emergency communication systems, called upon when commercial and public safety communication have been impaired or rendered unusable by natural disaster, system failure, or man-made causes. In order to remain operational during severe weather and natural disasters, most sites have emergency generator and/or battery backup power. Critical sites have hot standby or cold standby RF hardware permanently installed. None of the N3KZ repeaters rely on the Internet or common carriers.
The N3KZ repeaters are owned by Jeff DePolo, WN3A. The earliest N3KZ repeaters were constructed while he was a member of, and later President of, the University of Pennsylvania Amateur Radio Club (UPARC) during his time at Penn as an undergrad. He also served as the Trustee of the N3KZ club station license for many years. As a result of its genesis during Jeff's time at Penn, over the course of the last three decades the repeaters' affiliation with UPARC has continued. However, neither the university, UPARC, nor any other party has ownership interest in, or financially supports, any of the N3KZ repeaters. Financial donations are neither requested nor accepted.
Thanks to the following who have contributed their time and skills to the construction and installation of the N3KZ repeaters, especially in the early years:
Robbie Banks, WB3BSN (SK)
Jim Cardinal, AI3K (SK)
Dick Hoffman, W3BMA (SK)
Mark Humphrey, K3XY
Garrett Klein, WZ3G (SK)
Tom MacAdams, K3AIJ (SK)
Bob Potts, WB3EOC (SK)
Dave Williams, K3FC