History of the KARS

The History of
The Kentucky Amateur Radio Society
By Jim Brooks, KY4Z

**Recent edits made by Chandler Young, W4CMY**

Amateur radio operators have been present in Bardstown for many, many years. They are bankers, teachers, businessmen and women from all walks of life.

The first hint of an organized radio club was kicked off by the then-editor of the local newspaper who was both a native son and amateur radio operator, Dave Greer, N4KZ. Several small articles were published regularly in The Kentucky Standard regarding an organizational meeting for anyone interested in ham radio and computers.

The year was 1986.

CLUB FOUNDED. From these meetings the club had its start, and by mid-1986, monthly meetings were being held. Late that year, the club announced it would conduct a Novice license class. This writer and his brother, along with several others entered the hobby via this class, which was completed in early 1987.

KARS has never been an extremely formal club, and its structure has always been very loosely knit. There were no club dues for several years. At some point $10 was the suggested amount for dues to help defray the costs of the newsletter. All amateurs were welcome at club functions regardless of dues-paying status.

CLUB OFFICERS. Seldom were more than 3 officers ever elected; these typically would have been president, secretary and treasurer. Sometimes the secretary and treasurer’s position would be combined.

The list of past KARS presidents includes Dave Greer, N4KZ; Gary Miracle, KM4BG; Dick Baynham, N9RR; Jim Brooks, KY4Z; Ed Fowler, K4EEF; Kyle Brooks, KI4JGU (my apologies to anyone left off the list). Chandler Young, W4CMY is currently serving as president.

Like any radio club, KARS has seen both active and dormant times. In the end, a club is nothing with its members, whom volunteer their services to make the club function.

NETS & REPEATER. In an effort to support the new license privileges that were allowed by Novice Enhancement which gave Novices 10 meters phone privileges in March 1987, the KARS 10-Meter Net was launched. At the time there was no repeater in Bardstown, and most Bardstown hams met on the Springfield 2-meter repeater owned by Murray Walker, W4SJH. A 2-meter net was also started for the same reason.

Like the club itself, the KARS nets were also informal, but served as meetings “on the air” and a place for hams to discuss radio-related events and enjoy the hobby together.

FIRST BARDSTOWN REPEATER. The very first 2-meter repeater in the Bardstown area was owned by the writer, KY4Z. It first was coordinated for 147.39 and later changed to 145.47. The repeater featured a VHF Engineering transmitter and a Hamtronics receiver, ID’er and controller. It first operated from the writer’s backyard before installation on the roof of the Bardstown High School building.

SECOND REPEATER. Bill Grieb, W4BEJ, of Elizabethtown, donated two GE MasterII commercial repeaters for the club to convert for use as a new repeater. A ham from Grayson County agreed to tackle the project, and he used the parts to build a new repeater that relied on horizontal separation instead of duplexers.

The receive site was the home QTH of Jerry Parrott, N4PEI. The received signal was then relayed via 440 MHz link to the transmit site, a farm several miles away also owned by N4PEI. This repeater provided many years of continuous service with little maintenance.

Tom Kruer, AE4NU, wanted to use the repeater site for a UHF repeater, and also hoped to create a remote receive site at the fire tower in Bernheim Forest in Bullitt County. At that time, Tom was commuting to his job at Phillip Morris, and hoped to be able to build a link to more easily allow him to communicate with his wife here in Nelson County.

Tom replaced the dipole array antenna at the receive site with a fiberglass dualband antenna to allow for the shared use of the site with his 443.00 UHF repeater. Tom also removed the UHF yagi that had served as the receive antenna at the transmit side and installed a second dualband antenna. The old yagi was aimed at N4PEI’s house to complete the link from the receiver site there. The new antenna would allow links into the transmit site from other remote receivers, notably the one at Bernheim Forest.

The change in the UHF link antennas introduced noise into the repeater, particularly in rainy or foggy weather. In order to improve the link from the receive site, Tom installed a UHF amplifier, which cured the noise problem.

THIRD REPEATER. The club approved the purchase of a GE Master Exec II, highly modified, with a RC-1000 Controller and a TS-64 Tone CTCSS Encoder-Decoder which served the club’s needs for several years until it’s replacement by a Yaesu DR-1X. It was installed at a commercial tower site owned by Arnold Koeber of Concept Communications.

FOURTH REPEATER. In December of 2014, a few members proposed to the club that if they could raise enough funds, the club should purchase a new Yaesu DR-1X. At the time, Yaesu was offering the new hybrid System Fusion digital/FM Analog repeaters at a MSRP special of $500 to clubs. The proposed motion was tabled, and then later approved at the January 2015 club meeting. Enough funds were raised from various club members to afford the cost of the new repeater, and an order was placed. The repeater was received and installed in March of 2015 by Gene Ferguson, W4FWG, Chandler Young, W4CMY, Bill Adams, KD4NSU, and Kyle Robinson, K4KTR. This repeater is installed at the same tower site as the previous repeater, and the club is very appreciative to Arnold Koeber of Concept Communications for the use of his site.