A Short History of The Shelby Radio Club, Inc.
and Other Remembrances
and Other Remembrances
By Everett R Hames, W4TTS (SK)
(Everett was a long time member of the SARC and served as Secretary for several years.)
(Taken from the February 1994 Issue of Shamrac News)
In 1957 Malcolm Spangler, K4KUT and Floyd Willis, W4PZH decided it was time to form a radio club in Shelby, North Carolina.
An organizational meeting was held at Spangler's home. Those in attendance were Athos Rostan, W4QDA, Floyd Willis, W4PZH, Marvin Dixon, W4EYC, Edwin Patterson, W4LTI, John Lutz, K4VXI, Howard Ervin, W4OXV, Arlin Wilson, K4QVK, Charles Harry, III, K4RER, Travis Wall, K4RGJ, George Washburn, K4KUU, David Spangler, K4RGI, Nick Delatonas, K4QWN, JB Hamrick, K4QVO, and Malcolm Spangler, K4KUT.
The club was formed and named the Shelby Radio Club. The first officers were:
President: Floyd Willis, W4PZH
Vice President: Marvin Dixon W4EYC
Secretary/Treasurer: Malcolm Spangler, K4KUT.
Spangler served for twelve years as Secretary/Treasurer. The only requirement for membership in the club was that you have a genuine interest in radio.
The first hamfest was held at Brackett's Cedar Park in 1957, with about three hundred in attendance. Several members had loaned the club $25.00 each to get the hamfest started, and Tenny Freck, W4WL, of Freck Radio, Inc. granted credit to the club until after the hamfest so the event could be put on. The members were repaid by the club by having their annual dues paid up until the $25.00 was repaid. The first prize was a Hammerlund HQ-110 receiver. From the beginning, No member of the club or member of their immediate family have been able to participate in the prize drawing. All prizes go to our guest.
At one time there was a twenty five member limit to the club membership. The club was charted by the State of North Carolina as a non-profit corporation on December 29, 1966. A set of by-laws were adopted and we started doing business as the Shelby Radio Club, Inc. Included in these by-laws was the fact that you had to be a licensed amateur radio operator to be eligible for membership in the club. This rule still is in force even though the by-laws have been revised. Included in those original by-laws was the fact that to be a member you had to live within a 25 mile radius of Shelby, North Carolina. This section has since been deleted.
The hamfest prospered and the facility at Cedar Park became too small to hold the crowds that were attracted. Spurgin Hewitt and his wife fed the multitude with barbecue, slaw, green beans, corn on the cob and other fine foods. After Mr. Hewitt's death the land we used for parking was lost. Our crowds continued to increase, especially when we went to a 2 day hamfest. So in 1979 we were forced to move to the Cleveland County Fairgrounds. That 2 day hamfest now last about 10 days (unofficially). Many complaints were aired by our guest about this move, but gradually acceptance was won, even though now and then people will say, "This sure isn't like it was at Cedar Park." I have to agree with them. Every year during the long existence of the hamfest we have had Sunday School, and bingo for the ladies. In early 1994 the hamfest committee will start planning our 38th annual hamfest. We should each give pause and reflect upon the work that has been done over the years to make the Shelby Hamfest "The Granddaddy of them all." One thing we don't allow at the Shelby Hamfest is long winded speeches.
In 1971 a group from Charlotte was invited to a club meeting at the Holiday Inn, to give us some insight into the new fangled VHF FM Repeaters. (Whatever that was) We had been used to talking on 2 meter am and could barley get a signal out of the city limits with our 5 watts output and unity gain antennas. Not much in the way of real information was gleaned from this group, but we came away having decided that we wanted one of "them things."
Our first repeater came out of Georgia. Breco Brothers made us a repeater out of an old railroad transmitter and receiver. It was all tubes and could heat a good sized room. The transmitter was a Motorola 80-D and the receiver a Motorola Synsacon "A". The transmitter took an 829-B Tube and I scrounged army units that I knew. Tubes came in from all over the world and were sorely needed, as the repeater ate them like popcorn. A DB products duplexer was also used. Joe Cherry, K4ZV and Bill Bridges, N4WH put the thing all together and designed a mechanical CW ID'er and 10 minute timer. They spent countless hours getting the bugs out. Every night would find them in Joe's basement working away. The repeater was put in service at Joe's house down in Suburban Acres, and smoke tested until spring of 1972, when it was moved to it's present location on top of Whitaker Mountain near Blacksburg, SC. At first a tower 90 feet tall was erected and a small building to house the repeater was built. It was not long before the tower was raised to 150 feet or there about. The FCC regulations were very strict at that time, so when a control operator was not on duty during the wee hours of the night the repeater was shut down about One O'clock AM. That lasted until one night we had a tornado touch down in the Crest School Area. The weather was really bad and we had an emergency net going. Someone noted that the repeater only had a short while until it shut itself down. Me, my son Mark and Carmel Honeycutt went to the mountain and jumpered the timer where the repeater would stay on all the time. It was a buggery sight being on the mountain with lightening playing all around. This slow old boy sure worked in a hurry that night. We conveniently forgot to reconnect the timer after the storm was over. The club now has 2 FM repeaters and a digipeater on Whitaker Mountain. The digipeater and one FM repeater are on 2 meters and the other FM repeater is on the 70 cm band (444.325 Mhz. up 5 Mhz). Also another 2 meter repeater is located near the intersection of Highways 150 and 180 near Shelby and the same building houses two digipeaters on the 2 meter band and an Icom 11/4 meter repeater. A tower of about 155 feet was erected and has several antennas mounted on it. The old repeater on Whitaker has been replaced twice and we now have a Johnson Model CR1100 Solid State repeater in it's place. This is the same equipment that is used at the other location. Both two meter repeaters have TX/RX 6 cavity duplexers and the 1 1/4 meter and 70 cm repeaters have 4 cavity duplexers of the same make. Duplexers are used so only one antenna is used to receive and transmit at the same time on the same antenna. In addition to the above mentioned repeaters we have an Amateur Television repeater located just off the Civilian Conservation Corps Road that is the Northern Cleveland County Line in the South Mountains. This repeater is at the 2200 foot above mean sea level, and carries both audio and video signals just as any commercial TV station would.
We are now "doing business as" The Shelby Amateur Radio Club.
In addition to putting on the hamfest, we now have regular monthly meetings and are active in civic endeavors. Anytime we are needed some few will come forth and do the task. Also we donate monies to several good and deserving charities. We should always be aware of what is going on around us and what we as a club can do to help our fellow man. (this history was written in 1994)
In 2009 the Shelby Amateur Radio Club replaced their 2 Johnson repeaters with brand new Kenwood Repeaters and is currently involved in new projects. Stay tuned for exciting news from the SARC.
Around 2011, our Club purchased a 2mtr and 440 DSTAR repeater. Our club also recently purchased land in Kings Mountain to place these repeaters. Our club sponsors the ARES of Cleveland County group and is proud of it's history of disaster preparedness communications. Our club replaced the 220 repeater in 2015. We are excited about the future of our club. In 2018 we donated sets of books pertaining to Amateur Radio and Electronics to the high schools in the area. We hope we can interest young and old alike to join this rewarding hobby and service of Amateur Radio!
If you are an amateur radio operator and would like to be a part of the exciting things happening, we invite you to visit our club meeting.