From Small Beginnings

A Brief History of the Guelph,
Kitchener-Waterloo and the
South Waterloo Amateur Radio Clubs.

Produced by the Kitchener-Waterloo Amateur Radio Club.

Chapter Eleven
Development of 2 Meters In K-W Area

In the late 1940's after WW II, activity began to appear on the amateur 2 meter band. In 1949 VE3ANU, Bruce Underwood, purchased a SCR522 transmitter. This war surplus unit had an output of 15 watts to an 832 dual tetrode final amplifier. A converter using a 6J6 oscillator/mixer was built to feed into the R1155 surplus HF receiver. A three element beam completed the station.

Nightly contacts were made with VE3AQG in Hamilton, W2ORI in Lockport, and several Buffalo stations. Horizontal polarization was used for two meter AM. VE3DBP, Gord Moogk, had helped align the converter for VE3ANU and this sparked his interest. He built the first completely homebrew station in the Kitchener-Waterloo area and used an eleven element beam for the rig which also used the surplus 832 in the final.

As activity increased regular contact was made with stations in the Toronto area. Some new stations in this area were VE3DPB Gord Clegg from his home near Fergus, VE3BJX Ralph and VE3CZE Ray from Guelph, VE3AVY Paul Cassel from Preston (now VE3SY) and VE3AUV Vic Smith from near Eden Mills.

The KWARC 2m rig In the spring of 1954 VE3ANU Bruce built a small 2 watt transceiver for mobile use. The circuit used was based on the "Heath Two'er" and used the old super-regenerative detector which has good sensitivity but poor selectivity. An AC/DC vibrator supply powered the rig. A few years later 2 meters became more popular around the K-W area and VE3DBD Ron Gimbel designed this circuit into a standard Hammond chassis/case combination and spear-headed a club project to build a number of the "KWARC" 2 meter rigs.

As new tubes were developed for television frequencies, Bruce produced a superhet receiver circuit for these rigs. However FM was becoming the accepted mode for 2 meters so the circuit was obsolete. VE3OE, Bob Smith, designed a modification to provide Frequency Modulation of the rigs but his is the only known unit completed.

The club had several commercial "Gonset" rigs for 2 meters which were purchased by the Civil Defence in Kitchener under Mr. Bert Camp, a strong supporter of the club. VE3DBD, Ron, developed a modification to provide frequency Modulation of some of these transceivers.

VE3ENS, Dave Rung, is thought to be the first area ham to make a 2 meter FM QSO. Frequency modulation also brought the vertical polarization of antennas to 2 meters. VE3ESE Don Fisher who moved to the K-W area from Toronto, VE3AMZ John Riddell, VE3CSB Dave Bell and VE3AIM John Enns were some of the others on 2 meters around 1966.

In early 1969 VE3AMZ, VE3CSB and VE3AVY purchased some surplus materials from a GE warehouse sale. The intent was to build several 80 watt base stations. The best of these units was assembled into a station by VE3AMZ and VE3LV, Gord Russell and became the VE3KSR repeater under the Kitchener-Stratford FM Association. It signed on the air in April of 1969. The project was financed by members of the association and the sale of several RCA 2 meter mobile rigs donated to the club by CKCO-TV engineering.

Two of the owners of these RCA Carfone rigs were Paul Cassel and Ron Gimbel. Ron's rig was a 24 volt model so Ron wound his own toroid transformer for a transistor switching power supply to power his unit. Ron also got one of the base stations working and used these rigs until about 1986.

Later a second repeater was installed at 100 Queen Street North in Kitchener. This used the call sign VE3RCK and was intended to provide one link in a series of stations for Red Cross communications across southern Ontario. VE3KK, Marshall Killen held the call and was the liaison with the Red Cross. Eventually this became a second repeater for use by local amateurs. Several experiments such as retransmission of spacecraft broadcasts were carried out on this station.

Another early 2 meter activity was a design and manufacturing project taken on by Gord Russell, Ron Gimbel and Paul Cassel. It was a 6 channel kit to make early single channel taxi radios into multi-channel units. Several hundred of these were produced before multi-channel Japanese rigs started to appear.

It wasn't long before transmission of digital signals appeared on 2 meters. VE3SY Paul Cassel experimented with writing a packet program in BASIC which, in hind-site, resembles the Aloha digital retry format of today. Other experimenters with Paul at the time where, VE3COE Don Matheson, VE3MAD Gunther Gruber, and VE3CQS Don Lapp who used their TRS80 computers to control their transceivers to transmit and receive digital information. This was direct control by the computer without any type of interface other than the RS Expansion Box. This work provided the first successful operation of digital communication in the area.

Later VE3EUK Ralph Korchensky provided a bulletin board using RTTY and operated with limited participation by local amateurs. This was replaced with a bulletin board using packet radio techniques. Additional equipment was installed at the site of VE3KSR to provide a packet repeater for long distance contacts. A second repeater station was installed in the Marsland building on Erb Street in Waterloo using the call sign VE3IC. This was a digipeater for local use as in a LAN, a Local Area Network.

Satellite communications entered the K-W area in 1990 when club repeater VE3RCK was equipped to receive transmissions from orbiting space shuttles. The audio was then and continues to be retransmitted for local hams to hear on the 146.865 MHz VE3RCK repeater.

CLICK HERE for details on the shuttle link

When the news of this got around several teachers at local schools brought radios to class so that their students could listen in to the shuttle broadcasts.

Whatever the future may hold, K-W amateurs will be active in participating in the developments.

updated May 1998

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