While researching club records, I came across a piece written in the spring of 1978 by Blair Bates K3YD, Bill Ringleben K3UK (SK) and Ted Edwards W3TB. It brings us from the start of the Hazleton repeater to the time when the club is building our present repeater site. Here it is in it's entirety.
THE ANTHRACITE REPEATER ASSOCIATION:
Where have we been ?
Where are we going ?
Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in an activity or so turned off by it that we "can't see the forest for the trees." Perhaps now as we make some very important decisions in our club's life, it is time to look back and see where we have been and to decide where we are going.
Some of the highlights of our history include:
Fall 1973 --- K3IJX, K3TRM and W3FCU decided to assemble and operate a 2 meter repeater in Hazleton. During the winter and spring surplus prog units were scrounged, control system built, antennae erected, license WR3ADF procured, etc.
Late May 1974 --- WR3ADF became a reality. The receiver was located at the home of K3IJX and the transmitter at K3TRM's. Linking was done via leased phone line. Coverage was feeble at best -- Hazleton and suburbs. When a "strange" mobile showed up on I-80 everybody grabbed him.. Our window on I-80 was from 2 miles east of 309 to the Tank, about 7 miles. The frequency was 146.16/76.
Fall 1974 --- A club was formed so that the users could support the repeater. It was called "The Anthracite Repeater Association." There were about 15 members by the end of 1974. First officers were Pres. K3IJX, Vpres. W3FCU and Sec K3OMF.
February 1975 --- Frequency change to avoid interference with WR3AEL in Philadelphia to 146.07 / 67.
Summer 1975 --- First ARA sponsored novice classes.
Fall 1975 --- Procurement of a site on Freeland Mountain in Masley's junkyard. WB3ADT made initial contact, W3FCU, K3IJ and WA3BSV made final arrangements. Terms: We could use it for a while if we didn't cause interference or hold "wild parties". If we caused problems or Pete Masely sold out we would have to move. We could have an antenna on the roof but no guy wires in the yard. Unofficial rent set at periodic bottles of Christian Brothers Brandy.
Fall 1975 --- Membership up to 25. Held fund raising (Basket of Cheer) to raise $360.00 to purchase a VHF Engineering Repeater.
February 1976 --- With the addition of a six cavity duplexer built by WA3TMV, we finally had a single site repeater at qth of K3IJX.
April 1976 --- A second floor room in the old house in the middle of the junkyard was prepared to take the repeater. We installed a door with a lock and put a tower section on the roof. The repeater was moved in on April 3. What an improvement!: Wilkes-Barre, Bloomsburg, Lehighton and other exotic DX locations rolled in. Power increased to 110 w ERP.
Membership up to 60.
Fall 1976 --- Fund-raising held to purchase GE Mastrpro base stn. VHF Engineering repeater proved to be temperature sensitive, unreliable.
May 1977 --- Mastrpro on line.
June 1977 --- Anthracite Repeater Association , Incorporated.
July 1977 --- Auto patch service begins.
September 1977 --- Lot purchased on Freeland Mt. 50' x 150' for $206.00.
December 1977 --- Fund raising for equipment building construction on our land. Target
Perhaps now is the time and place to examine where we are and the direction to take. In 4 years we have seen a hard core group of perhaps a dozen amateurs instigate the development of two active amateur radio clubs: one of nearly 100 members; the other of over 40. We have seen over 70 new amateurs become licensed in this area, almost a 100% increase in the local licensed population. We have seem more than 70 amaters upgrade at least once. We have seen more amateur activity and more public service activity than at any other time in local history. And we have seen our idea of "local" expand to include Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Lehighton, Bloomsburg, Pottsville and the Lehigh Valley on VHF. The repeater on Freeland has gone a long way toward making this possible.
Now we can finally insure our permanence and growth as a group. We have some land. We have some money to build our own building. But why should we? At our present location we could be asked to leave at any time. The firetrap could burn down. The building could (don't laugh) collapse. We are limited in trying new antennae or raising our present one. And who cannot think of at least one place where our coverage could be improved. It is true that buildings and towers cost money, but we now have that money to build.
Some of the big questions which every member must help to answer are:
1. Should we build at all? Do we really need such a project.
2. Once we know how much tower we can safely build on the site from an engineering standpoint, how much tower should we put up? Do we want to go that high? Could we/ should we afford it?.
3. There is the possibility of acquiring some adjacent land making a higher tower possible. What would we gain besides a possible long term tenant in our building? Do we want this extra responsibility?
4. Do we want a big (12'x18') building or would a smaller one suit our needs?
The club is at a crossroads right now. Whatever direction we take will be something we will have to live with for a long time. At the May general membership meeting May 25th, 1978 at 8:00 p.m. at the Bell Telephone Garage. AN OPEN HEARING WILL BE HELD TO AIR ALL CONCERNS, GRIEVANCES AND PLAUDITS, OPTIONS AND PLANS. ALL INFORMATION CONCERNING THE NEW REPEATER SITE PROJECT, ALL BUILDING PLANS, ALL FINANCIAL FACTORS WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR YOUR INSPECTION.
Members are always privileged to speak, but especially at this open hearing the participation of everyone is encouraged AND NEEDED.
Let it not be said that any member was denied the chance to voice his concerns or to participate in the making of decisions in this project. COME, COME TO BITCH, OR TO PRAISE OR WHATEVER, BUT COME TO THIS IMPORTANT MEETING ON MAY 25th, 1978.
By: Blair Bates, K3YD
Bill Ringleben. K3UK (SK)
Ted Edwards W3TB
Eventually the decisions were made, it was decided to go with the 12'x18' building. A land deal was cut with our neighbors, F&L to trade a 100'x30' piece of property along our west property line for the north 50 feet of ours. Giving us a 100'x80' lot. A nicer size to place a guyed antenna tower. The nice thing was that F&L picked up all the transfer costs as they needed that back piece of our property to erect their own 150' tower. Thanks to Blaire K3YD for finding the property and doing all the negotiating.. Sometimes it's nice to have a real estate person in the family.
By July 1978 the permits were obtained, land cleared and building and tower locations spotted. W3TI and K3NYX came up with their transits and staked out the foundation for the building.
A Building foreman was appointed (railroaded) it was Joe Filozof K3PGI. We were ready to commence construction. Joe had planned on getting a backhoe and dig for placing a one foot wide by about 3 foot deep footer. Then forming out the perimeter and pouring the footer and floor in one shot.. Makes sense. It would have worked too.. Except: our real estate guy was up the site one afternoon when Bob fritz happens to drive by with his backhoe. Not being one to miss an opportunity he was hired on the spot to dig the footer. And dig he did.. When K3PGI went to check out the job, he almost had a coronary. No one told the backhoe operator that his 2 foot scoop was a bit wider than we needed, and the 3 foot maximum depth was overlooked also.
Well it took the construction crew a whole lot of rough cut lumber to build forms in the bottom of the hole. Pour the lower part of the footer than pull the forms, backfill and build the form to finish the top. I forget how many yards of concrete are in that footer and floor somewhere about 15? Correct me if I'm wrong. Not counting the loads and loads of scrap car parts we threw in to take up space..
I guess it was in late September or Early October we started in earnest. Materials were put on site and we were ready. A local ham who had laid concrete blocks before volunteered to come up and help and show us how, as none of us ever started a job like this before. Well he never showed up, so after waiting around for a while K3BS said "we're not going anywhere like this" so we mixed some mud and started.. Actually we found out we had a couple of good bricklayers in the club, laborers too. Especially for a crew of shoemakers. I can remember that day as it was snowing as we were working.
By November the building was nearing completion. It was weather tight but still needed painting. By June the building was completed with paint, wiring, lights. W3OHX Emil helped out by donating and installing a 200 amp service. The Tower was erected and in late June 1979 the repeater was moved into our new building, it's present site. The antenna a super stationmaster at 70 feet fed with a length of 7/8 heliax.
*** K3IJ ***
TO BE CONTINUED