Net History

Good Morning Guys and Dolls-

Two days ago you received an email that your Antietam Radio Association was going to do a restart of the 4 State Net, but on Wednesdays at
8 PM on the 147.09 ARA repeater starting NEXT WEEK.

As perhaps some of you know, I have been an ARA member for a while.  And I know first hand that ARA has run nets for most years of its existence.  I wasn't licensed in the 50's like a few of the current members- Jerry Metz W3BRZ, Fran Little W3SCC, Smiling Jack Willock W3NHR,
Stan The Man Klick W3YGC and maybe another I've overlooked or forgotten but if I'm correct, ARA's first net was held on 10 Meters using AM.

I think there was talk of a club 75 meter net but not sure if that was ever a reality. So I'm guessing the clubs first official sponsored net was in the
late 50's. In the 1960's 2 meter AM became popular and in this area was aided by 1) Establishment of the Technician Class License and 2)
locally a purchase by the local Civil Defense Agency of a pile of Polycom PC62 Dual Band VHF Transceivers. Some of these were placed strategically
in county Fire Halls, Smithsburg had one so did Boonsboro and Clear Spring as I recall. The was one at the Emergency Operations Center at
the courthouse annex building and many were available to loan to RACES / ARA members at the time.  These all came with crystals for 145.62
MHZ and that became the new Frequency for the Club's Weekly net.  Those Polycom radios were a deluxe radio of their day , about $300 each
for a VHF radio.  About the same time Heathkit in Benton Harbor MI manufactured a 2 meter transceiver kit which sold in the vicinity of $45 to
$50. These TWOERS were a major success in amateur radio for Heathkit.  Lots of hams who didn't get free use of a Polycom bought one.

The weekly 2 meter RACES/ARA net flourished for many years.

In perhaps the 70's or early 80's Amplitude Modulated Transceivers on VHF were fading away because of the increasing popularity of FM.
Bill Drager. George Silvius, David Butler were some of the ARA members back then who helped pioneer 2 meter FM on the ham bands here.
Nationally Wayne Green and his popular 73 Amateur Radio Magazine put FM on VHF to the forefront. New manufacturers like Genave and old commercial Manufacturers like Regency had their moments in the spotlight providing the new most often crystal controlled transceivers.
2 meters became a channel band. And repeaters began to spring up to help 2 meter signals reach greater distance on FM Mode than before.

     ARA got into the repeater business and then its nets were switched to 2 meter FM through a club repeater.  It took a while for the club to settle on general locations for its repeaters but in this age ARA is lucky to have 2 prominent hilltops from which to repeat.  The 146.94
repeater got the weekly ARA/RACES Net.  The 147.09 repeater eventually got its own net, the 4 States Net and for a brief while the club's
447.975 repeater had its own club affiliated net.

     Basically for a lack of volunteers to keep these nets running as NCS and some repeater down times, these nets all folded. There was also a
rumor going around at one time that the club had policemen who discouraged folks from using the club repeaters. But in truth, there are some
closed repeaters out there but ARA has not had any.  ARA repeaters are made available for members AND others use. The club does ask that during nets and special event communications that repeater use be limited to that type of activity while such is in operation. An emergency use
is permitted at all times the repeaters are up. The repeaters ARA and others, expect repeaters to be used in a legal way, most important that you ID YOUR CALL as per FCC rules when talking through the repeater.

     So last year, Butch Eigenbrode NI2W brought back the 146.94 net at 7 PM on the last Thursday of Each Month as the current schedule has
suggested.  He has averaged between 10 and 14 stations on each net.  The 146.94 repeater has good coverage but it doesn't serve all the members and friends.  The 147.09 repeater provides better coverage in some areas so bringing back the 4 States Net to serve other members
and friends too made sense.

     So we will try the 4 State Net as a weekly net once again. 147.09 Repeater is the place. Wednesdays at 8 PM is the time.  This net will be open
to any licensed amateur who wishes to participate. Mark your calendar and tell your friends.  The exact format may shift a bit till we find our
"groove". Consideration is even being given to starting with a roll of regular check-ins like ARA did on the old 145.62 Races Net only then a fixed list of stations was given whether normally active or not. If I go that way I'm leaning as the current net manager to calling only those who have been on recent nets to let then get checked in first and reduce the pileup of 4 or 5 stations trying to check in at the same time.  In any event the
check-in process will not take long. Unlike the ARES net, this will not be a training net. This will be a social net. There may be announcements or bulletins to remind folks of ARA activities or needs.  Eventually I'd like to have a backup Net control or two available in case I can't be there but
trust me, if I'm healthy and available, backup NCS will not be a burden on anyone unless someone wants a night a month or to do one occasionally to feel comfortable doing that.

Once upon a time the 4 State Net offered certificates to those who showed significant participation over time. No decision has been made on that yet. But again, mark your calender and "come on down" to the 4 States Net on Wednesdays 147.09 repeater  8 PM.


One final unrelated note, at the ARA meeting last Tuesday , Karin, our club secretary said only about half of last years members had paid their dues so far this year.  While this being the early part of January Still and quite normal, a reminder that 2014 dues are payable sounds like a fair idea.  Regular adult dues are still only $15 per year and may be sent to the Antietam Radio Association, Inc, P.O.Box 52, Hagerstown, MD 21740-0052. Be sure to include with your payment 1) your callsign 2) your name  3) your mailing address  and 4) your email address 5) ARRL member or not.

Your Dues supports many activities provided by ARA, including the Annual Great Hagerstown Hamfest, ARA Field Day, ARA Banquet Prizes, ARA Awards to deserving members, its Vast Repeater Systems (3 active repeaters and counting), VE Testing Sites, License Classes Support and other things that make the Antietam Radio Association your ARRL Affiliated Special Services Club.

          Page  WA3EOP 

 

Hi Page,

I was reading your note, and it brought back some "old" memories!
I remember the old ten meter net. Everyone was using a vertical, and all I had was a 40mtr dipole.
My brother helped me make a ground plane from some aluminum tubing and guy wires for radials. What a difference, I could hear
everyone now, on my old Heathkit AR-3. And I was using a DX40 and a Heath VF-1 VFO. Wow, that was a long time ago.
Also had one of the Polycom's, later, of course, in my car, with those "coaxial antenna(I think they were called) Two meter/Six meters
AM. They weren't too bad (when thy worked!) HI! Lots of tubes and relays! I think I talked back to town mobile, from
about Chewsville, not much after that.  A long way from what we have today! Oh well, it was lots of fun anyway, and good
memories!
Anyway, just wanted to share that, I'm sure you remember alot of that also...
Best 73s and thanks for the memories!
I'll try to check in the net, when I can. We have choir practice on Wed. and I don't have a mobile installed yet!
Anywho BCNU  SK    Jerry W3BRZ