Adios, El Presidente!

Our president, Glenn, WNØEHE, will be stepping down when his term expires on December 31 of this year.  After living in the Denver area for many years he decided to move to southern Arizona and bake his bones in the sun.

Taking the time to mentor the next generation. (Skylar, KD0WHB, and Glenn, WN0EHE)
Taking time to mentor the next generation. ((L) Skylar, KD0WHB, and (R) Glenn, WN0EHE)

It’s hard to think of a person who has had a larger impact on the RMRL’s success.  Glenn tells how he received a call from Warren, NØFVG in 1985 asking him to go to Squaw Mountain and help with the 146.94 MHz repeater – just once.  That one-time trip turned into more than 30 years of service to the RMRL.  In addition to filling the elected office of president, Glenn acted as head of the club’s technical committee and was a repeater trustee for many years.  He was the designer and chief builder of our repeater systems and always willing to take time out of his personal schedule to make trips to the sites and fix problems so the repeaters were available for the rest of us.  Wow!

2008 RMRL Board at the Christmas party
RMRL Board at the 2008 Christmas party. (Standing, L-R) Joe WT0C, Glenn WN0EHE, Ron N0MQJ, Ed N0MHU, and Richard WB5YOE. (Sitting) Jim W0LGF (SK)

Glenn says one of the most difficult parts of his decision to relocate was leaving the RMRL and all of the people who have made it such a great organization.  He indicates he’ll also miss working on the innovative projects undertaken by the club over the years, including repeater rebuilds, the amateur paging project, WWVB set-time project, autopatch call logger, and modifications to the S-COMM 7K repeater controllers to make new speech synthesizer words tailored just for RMRL use.

It’s no surprise that Glenn has had experiences over the years leading to amusing “war stories”.  One of the better ones involved an emergency trip to repair repeaters in the middle of winter, which didn’t seem like much fun at the time. He and Ed, NØMHU, snowshoed up Squaw Mountain carrying test equipment and a new power supply.  Glenn remembers remarking “It’s a good thing that this is our hobby because nobody could pay us enough to do this!”.

We will certainly miss Glenn and his leadership but wish him the best in the next phase of his life in Arizona!

Thank you, Glenn!
Thank you, Glenn, WN0EHE!!

449.450 Has a New Trustee

Our 449.450 repeater has a new trustee.  Richard, WB5YOE, has been the trustee of this repeater for many years.  He is leaving the area to pursue employment opportunities elsewhere.  Dunnigan, K1DUN, has agreed to assume the trusteeship.

We’re very sorry to see Richard go.  He is a long-time RMRL member and has always been available to assist the club with whatever needs doing.  In addition to his trusteeship, he has served on the technical committee, organized club picnics, assisted with hamfests, climbed towers, and many other things too numerous to list.  Thanks Richard for all your help over the years – we wish you the best in your new endeavors!

WB5YOE cooks at a 1991 picnic
Richard, WB5YOE, cooks at a 1991 RMRL picnic.

Dunnigan, thank you for stepping up and supporting the club in yet another way!

RMRL: the early years

Recollections of Steve Smith, K0WLN,  (one of the original founders) and Glenn Cascino, WN0EHE

Steve and about a half-dozen or so other people started the club in the late 1960’s.  When asked why they didn’t join an existing club, Steve responded that they were a young group and didn’t feel all that welcomed into some of the other, more established, clubs.  They wanted to start a group that made everyone feel welcome.

Denver University Library tower the location of the first RMRL repeater
RMRL’s first repeater location: DU library tower

Steve worked at DU in the Physics Department and started the club off with a repeater in the three-story library tower at DU.  At the time, Steve was working on infrared projects for the Air Force and flying 1,000-pound equipment balloons that needed tracking, hence his interest in communications and ham radio.  He had a fully-equipped machine shop available to him for his work projects.  A lot of ham equipment and accessories were home-built in those days, so being able to machine his own parts gave Steve a big advantage in setting up and deploying equipment.

The other core founders were also mostly technically inclined, many worked at local television stations or elsewhere in the communications field.  The businessmen of the group helped get the club paperwork done, establishing it as a 501(3)c, and handling other legal matters along the way.

At the time, when crystal radios came from the factory, the most popular frequency was 146.94 and 146.34.  That is why you will find so many early clubs set up repeaters in those frequencies – that was the main option unless they had the resources to add crystals tuned to different frequencies.

The first club repeater was the 146.34/94.  That’s not a typo.  The nomenclature for referencing a repeater at the time included both the input and output signals.  The input was 146.340, with an output of 146.940, thus the repeater was referenced as the 146.34/94.  Today we know it as the 146.94 repeater.

The original was a vacuum tube radio, a Motorola FMTRU-80(D).  This was a top-of-the-line mobile radio, originally designed and manufactured in the 1950’s.  Power supplies for base stations were problematic: the manufacturers would rack-mount a bunch of mobile power supplies and call it good. Steve made good use of his machine shop and built the power supplies himself.

Steve’s friend, Bob Swanlund, also a ham, worked for the Colorado State Patrol and founded the station at the top of Squaw Mountain.  Bob’s wife, Margaret, worked for the Forest Service. Squaw Mountain was the site of the Colorado State Patrol radios, as well as communications systems for several other government agencies.  It was a good partnership: Margaret did the fire-lookout job while Bob took care of all the communications equipment on site.

Squaw Mountain House of Radios hosts many repeaters
Bob and Margaret Swanlund’s home atop Squaw Mountain. No longer used as a residence, it is now known as the “House of Radios” hosting many repeaters.

Bob and his wife worked with the government to build a home at the top of Squaw —an endeavor that took 16 years to complete.  Although it lacked running water, it was a great location for a ham radio repeater.  Bob invited his friend Steve to locate his repeater up there.  So, after about a year at the DU library location, they moved the repeater to the basement of Bob’s house and put the antenna on the mountain.  With the antenna cantilevered out about 5’ from the tower, they had coverage in all directions. Lacking a commercial duplexer, they set up a dual-antenna repeater.  Steve said there was nothing behind the antenna and the radio footprint was amazing.

Thus, the Rocky Mountain Radio League became the first ham radio club to have a repeater on Squaw Mountain.  Which also helps to explain the club’s call sign: W0WYX.  Why is that significant?  Bob Swanlund’s call sign was W0WYX.

W0WYX Call sign above the fireplace in the House of Radios
Affixed just above the fireplace in the House of Radios, this sign memorializes Bob Swanlund and the RMRL’s roots.

 

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Additional Reading:

Early mobile radio history and information: Motorola FM Mobile 2-Way Radio Equipment, Part One, 1941-1957

Forest Fire Lookout Towers of the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forests and Rocky Mountain National Park

 

RMRL supports the ARRL Kids Day – June 16, 2018

The RMRL supports the ARRL Kids Day.

Twice a year the ARRL offers an event designed to promote Amateur Radio to our youth.

Kids Day is designed to give on-the-air experience to young people and hopefully foster interest in getting a license of their own. It is also intended to give older hams a chance to share their station and love for Amateur Radio with their children, grandchildren, local boy- or girl-scout troop, or other youth group.

We will be connecting our IRLP node on the 145.340 repeater to the IRLP Friends Ham Radio Network that day so that kids in the Denver metro area (and beyond, see the coverage map) can talk to kids in other parts of the United States, and potentially the world.  The event starts at noon, local time, and runs until 6:00pm.   If there is no traffic, the connection times out, so be active and get on the air!

The ARRL provides a downloadable, printable certificate that you can print and fill out for your kid participant.  They would also appreciate it if you would drop them a note via the form provided to let them know about your experiences.  ARRL Kids Day web page.

RMRL supports the ARRL Kids Day – June 18, 2017

The RMRL supports the ARRL Kids Day.

Twice a year the ARRL offers an event designed to promote Amateur Radio to our youth.

Kids Day is designed to give on-the-air experience to young people and hopefully foster interest in getting a license of their own. It is also intended to give older hams a chance to share their station and love for Amateur Radio with their children, grandchildren, local boy- or girl-scout troop, or other youth group.

We will be connecting our IRLP node on the 145.340 repeater to the IRLP World Radio Network that day so that kids in the Denver metro area (and beyond, see the coverage map) can talk to kids in other parts of the United States, and potentially the world.  The event starts at noon, local time, and runs until 6:00pm.   If there is no traffic, the connection times out, so be active and get on the air!

The ARRL provides a downloadable, printable certificate that you can print and fill out for your kid participant.  They would also appreciate it if you would drop them a note via the form provided to let them know about your experiences.  ARRL Kids Day web page.

RMRL Website makeover

Notice there is no “News” page because abbreviated versions of news and events are now posted on the Home Page at the top of the right-hand column and the full version on this page. We will also post articles, photos, and other information here. If you have some information or an experience to share, let us know. In case you missed the “Contact Us” form on the right-hand side of nearly every page of this site, we have included one here for your convenience: