W4BFB Repeaters

In 1968, our 146.94 repeater was the first 2M FM repeater we knew about east of the Mississippi. This was from Bob Southworth, KI4YV, who was part of the team putting the repeater on the air. It was first installed on top of the Independence building at Trade and Tryon which at 13 stories, was the tallest building in Charlotte. When the Independence building was imploded making room for taller buildings, our 146.94 had already been moved a few times to higher altitudes. Still operating very well and widely used, we can be very proud of the history of 146.94 and its younger siblings.

Today we maintain five different repeaters. We have made it a goal to have similar equipment in all of our repeater sites to allow for easier maintenance, controller software upgrades, and repairs. All of our repeaters – except for our 220 repeater – have been upgraded to TKR 750 or TKR 850 commercial repeaters. Our repeater controllers have all been upgraded to Arcom RC210 controllers and accessories, which include Rack Mount Enclosures, Auto Patch Option Board, and Real Time Clocks. Dr. Bill Heybruck, WA2EDN, designed a circuit and built a prototype that would allow us to reset the repeater controllers after a power surge without making a trip to the site. He also designed a PC board for this and along with Earl Fortner, K4KAY, they built and installed the circuit in all of the Arcom controllers. On each 2 meter repeater, we have 75 watt Power Amplifiers installed. We used attenuators on all of the 2 meter repeaters as well to get rid of any desense on the inputs. Most of the repeaters have Advance Receiver Gassfet preamps installed. Our Power Supplies are Samlex 1235M 30 Amp switching power supplies.

All of our 2 meter repeaters and our 70cm repeater have an access tone of 118.8hz, and they also generate the same tone on transmit – so feel free to program in tone squelch for these frequencies.

Here’s a summary of our repeaters:

145.23 (118.8Hz) – Located on Spencer Mountain, its antenna is at 1574 feet above sea level, which is almost 900 feet above average terrain. This repeater puts out about _____ watts ERP into a Comprod antenna. We were able to take advantage of an abandoned 1 ¼ inch heliax feedline that was in like new condition to go up the tower. This increased our coverage area by roughly 75% compared to the previous antenna. The 145.23 covers North to West to South of its location particularly well. It’s our “handheld rubber duck coverage” from many hiking trails in the mountains.

145.29 (118.8Hz) – Located on top of 50 stories in uptown Charlotte, its antenna is 1333 feet above sea level, which is about 583 feet above average terrain. This repeater is at the same site as our 444.600 repeater, and both are fed into a dual band antenna using a Comet duplexer.

146.94 (118.8Hz) – Located on Orr Rd in northeast Charlotte, its antenna is 908 feet above sea level, which is almost 200 feet above average terrain. This repeater is our primary repeater for most of our 2 meter activities including ARES events.

224.400 – Our 224.400 repeater was put on the air when new Novice privileges included the use of 220 Mhz. For those of you who aren’t old enough, that was in February of 1989 (costing nearly $2,000!). It is located in the same cabinet along with the 146.94 repeater, and uses the same controller. The repeater itself is a Kendecom KRP5000 and puts out about 20 watts ERP on a nice quiet band. Because of its common controller, it shares all the same control functions and features as the others. Installed with this repeater is a mobile power amp modified with blowers, putting out about 60 watts. So get yourself a 220 radio, or build the 220 FM radio kit and meet me over there.

444.600 (118.8Hz) – Our current 444.600 repeater is running at about 100 watts ERP. 444.600 has interesting surprisingly good coverage in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. When it’s linked with 145.29 it provides handheld rubber duck coverage for many Charlotte public service events, particularly those in the big building uptown RF shadows.

We are proud of our repeaters, and hope more than anything that they are used with good Amateur Radio Practice. Future goals for our repeaters include installing lightning arrestors on all of our equipment, and continuing the testing and implementation of our linking radios to allow any one of our repeaters to be linked together – regardless of what site they are on. With the recent acquisition of internet access at the 146.94 repeater site, we will be able to move our EchoLink node to this location. When this move is completed, the echolink callsign will be W4BFB-R instead of it’s current K4NET-L.

A lot of time, effort, and supplies have been donated by several individuals, such as PowerPole Connectors, Coax Adapters, Coax, Wire, and other related items to update and maintain these repeater sites. Some of the folks helping with keeping everything on the air and running include Earl Fortner (K4KAY), Bill Newsome (AC4ZR), Bryan Ferdinand (K4NET), Bob Ferdinand (K9TMU), Charles Comerford (KK4HOK), John Covington (W4CC), Dr. Bill Heybruck (WA2EDN), Jeff Blythe (KA4WYC), Dave Holbrook (KC4YPB), Seth O’Neal (KF4LLF), Ben Antanaitis (WB2RHM), Daryl Sampson (W4OH), Tim O’Rourke (W4YN), and others.

Our repeaters speak for all of us in our club. Many travelers, visitors, influential people, and others who we don’t know about, listen to our repeaters. Those many listeners don’t know (or care) whether transmissions are from club members or not, but we as members still get the good and bad credit for all actions on our repeaters. It is up to us to set an example of conduct, therefore illustrate the very reasons why the Amateur Service exists.

So what are the rules? FCC Rules – Part 97!

We should each review these FCC rules periodically just because we hold a license. Here are some of the more important rules pertaining to our repeaters:

  • Identify your station. Just your callsign is fine.
  • Use plain English.
  • No vulgarity.
  • It should be “clear to any listener that business communication is not involved”.
  • Retransmission of signals from other radio services is not permitted.

For the Guidelines for Repeaters and Radio Systems Operated by the Mecklenburg Amateur Radio Society, please click here.