In 1984, the Rochester Amateur Radio Club (RARC) and Rochester Repeater Society (RRS) were combined into a single organization known as the Rochester Amateur Radio Club, Inc. A brief chronological history of each organization is provided in the following sections.
Rochester Amateur Radio Club, Inc.
Reginald Comstock, of Rochester, conducted the earliest recorded experiments in “radio wireless telegraphy” in 1917. Four Rochester Amateur Radio operators were listed in the 1930 edition of the Callbook:
- W9AHT, Gerald Ripley (WØAHT)
- W9COS, Carl Frank (WØCOS)
- W9FMK, W H Bailey (WØFMK)
- W9FOS, Pete Jensen (WØFOS)
Other Rochester amateurs that were active in the 1930’s were:
- W9AGL, Dr. James Cain (WØAGL)
- W9GLE, Bill Hornseth (WØGLE)
- W9GYH, Ed Martinson (WØGYH)
- W9MXW, Dr. C.K. Maytum (WØMXW)
- W9NIW, Dave Mabium (WØNIW)
- W9TYH, Dr. Carl Johnson (WØTYH)
- W9TRT, Jim Thompson (WØTRT)
The Rochester Amateur Radio Club evolved from this nucleus of amateurs with meetings held in member’s homes. As the membership grew, the meetings subsequently moved to the Rochester Electric Plant, Red Cross Building, Olmsted County Courthouse, State Hospital, Samaritan Bethany Manor and the Salvation Army Building.
One of the earliest known club social events was a banquet held in 1932. In later years, a dinner was held at 6:00 p.m. prior to each club meeting. The dinner practice was discontinued in 1968.
Some of the club activities through the 1950 – 1970 period were:
- Field Day
- Amateur radio classes
- Boy Scout Expositions
- County Fair displays
- Canoe Derby on the Mississippi River
- Eagles Cancer Telethon
- Halloween “spook” patrols
- Fox Hunts
- Soap Box Derbies
- Plowville (1952, 1956)
- Powder Puff Derby
- Airplane watches (1952)
- Flood assistance (1962, 1965)
- OSCAR telemetry unit (1966)
Many of the club activities during the 1950’s focused on Civil Defense preparedness. Rochester amateurs were involved in the formation of the Minnesota RACES organization in 1951. Early in 1960, three weeks before a National Civil Defense Alert, Milt Miller (WØTJA) was asked to set up an amateur radio network to participate in the alert. On September 25, 1960, the name PICONET was selected as the name of the net.
The RARC club station was first set up in the Civil Defense Operating Center at the Olmsted County Courthouse in 1961. The club call WØMXW was issued by the FCC on February 18, 1961, upon special request in recognition of an early Rochester amateur Dr. C. K. Maytum. Bill Hornseth, WØGLE, was the first club license trustee.
Some of the early club equipment consisted of U.S. Government civil defense donations. In 1961, a 60 watt Wilcox transmitter from the U.S. Air Force was installed at the station in the Courthouse. The July, 1968, the FLYER described the WOMXW club station equipment as “a Drake R4/T4X receiver/transmitter with a National NCL2000 linear amplifier for 1Ø-75 meters, Clegg-Zuess units for 150 watts on 2 and 6 meters, 250 watt FM base for 6 meters, a 100 foot tower with VHF and HF beams and 40 amateur operators in the Management Committee.”
Rochester Repeater Society
The Rochester Repeater Society (RRS) was organized in 1972 by a group of Rochester hams that were active on the two meter VHF amateur band. The primary purpose of the group was to experiment with VHF communications and operate a two meter repeater serving the Rochester and Olmsted county area.
Among the original members of the group were: Tom Vinson (WØNW), Henry Jager (WAØRDC), Perry Taylor (WØSE), and Lowell Anderson (WØLBN).
The first Rochester repeater operated on an output frequency of 146.94 Mhz using the call WRØAFT. The unit consisted of converted General Electric Progress-Line surplus equipment with a homebrew controller. The separate transmitter and receiver sites were connected by a leased telephone line.
In 1975, the two meter repeater was upgraded to a Standard RPT-1 unit with the aid of a financial grant from the IBM Corporation. The upgrade also included new control circuitry, a 450 Mhz control receiver, a set of duplexors and a change to the 146.82 Mhz output and 146.22 Mhz input frequency pair. The repeater was located at the former KROC-TV studios and transmitter site two miles west of downtown Rochester.
Following the Rochester flood in July, 1978, Olmsted County purchased equipment for the WBØSBH/R repeater initially located nine miles south of Rochester near the airport. The WBØSBH/R repeater initially operated on an output frequency of 146.025 Mhz and was moved to the top of the Mayo Clinic building in 1980.
The 146.82 WRØAFT/R Standard repeater was replaced with a new Motorola Micor commercial unit in 1980. The Motorola unit, with an effective radiated power of 100 watts, plus the raising of the antenna to the 300 foot level of the tower at the repeater site, provided significantly improved repeater coverage of the southeast Minnesota area.
With the aid of an IBM Community Service grant in 1981, the outdated control circuitry of the WRØAFT/R repeater was replaced with a Micro Security MS-100 repeater controller. The MS-100 controller contains a Motorola 6502 microprocessor and provides a wide range of repeater functions. Technical leadership for the controller upgrade was provided by Bob Dubke (KØSIR) and Rob Jahnke (KØXL).
The WRØAFT/R call sign for the 146.22/146.82 Mhz repeater was changed to WAØRDC/R in October, 1982. When the Rochester Repeater Society combined with the Rochester Amateur Radio Club in 1984, the repeater call sign changed again to the RARC club call WØMXW/R. The WØMXW/R repeater trustee is Gil Baron, WØMN.
In 1986 and 1987, the WØMXW/R repeater was upgraded with new duplexers and hardline in an attempt to eliminate random noise that occasionally appeared on the system. In August, 2003, the club purchased a new Advanced Communication Systems KRP 5000 Repeater with the following features: CAT 1000 Controller, ED 1000 Windows Editor for the CAT 1000, DR-1000B Digital Voice Recorder, DL-1000 Audio Delay Board and CTCSS Board for the WØMXW/R 146.820 MHz repeater.
With initial sponsorship of the Rochester UHF Society, a 450 Mhz repeater was put on the air in 1979 at the KROC- TV tower site west of Rochester using the call WRØAQY/R. The UHF repeater operated on an input frequency of 449.80 Mhz and output of 444.80 Mhz using tube-type Motorola equipment.
The Motorola equipment used by the 450 Mhz repeater was updated to solid state equipment in 1982 and installed back at the original site in February, 1983. Due to subsequent transmitter problems, the repeater was taken out of service in 1984.
With the Novice license enhancements in 1987, the club purchased and installed a 220 Mhz repeater. The repeater call was WØMXW/R and it operated on an output frequency of 224.82 Mhz. The repeater was removed from operation in 1990.
The operating frequency of the WBØSBH/R repeater was switched in 1988 to conform to the ARRL 2 meter repeater bandplan. The WBØSBH/R repeater input is 146.025 Mhz and the output frequency is 146.625 Mhz. In 1999, ownership of the repeater was transferred from the Olmsted County Emergency Services organization to RARC and the call sign was changed to WØMXW.
In December, 2003, the RARC club purchased a new Advanced Communication Systems KRP 5000 Repeater for the WØMXW 146.625 MHz repeater site. A new antenna and feedline was also installed on top of the Mayo Clinic building. The new repeater and antenna greatly improved the coverage area provide by the 146.625 MHz repeater in downtown Rochester.
A repeater, owned and operated by the Olmsted County Emergency Services, operates on 147.255 Mhz with a +600 Hz offset. A tone access of 100.0 Hz is required for access. The repeater is located east of the Rochester on a 300 foot tower. The call sign is WØEAS/R.
Remote Base/Packet Node
Implementation of a remote, two-meter unit was started in late 1981. The remote base provides the capabilities of a synthesized two meter amateur radio station with access via telephone lines. The remote transceiver is located at the KTTC-TV link tower site, nine miles south of Rochester, with an antenna height of approximately 200 feet.
The remote base unit was originally designed to operate as a packet radio node when not being used for voice FM operation. In 1999, the remote base hardware was modified to operate as a APRS digipeater on 144.39 Mhz when not being used as a remote base.
The two meter remote base/packet radio unit was designed and built by: Bob Dubke (KØSIR), Rob Jahnke (KØXL), John Reed (KØKTY) and Gary Sharp (WDØHEB).
The remote base unit was removed from service in 2001. The KTTC-TV tower site is being used as a digipeater station site.
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