Early Club History

by Nels, WA9JOB, 'Jolly Ole Bootlegger''

A new tower was being built on the highest hill in S.E. Wisconsin in 1971, and the man who was instrumental in selling the installation was John LeFeber, W9VAT. In true Amateur spirit, John saw to it a Larsen mobile antenna was placed right on top of the then 400 foot structure, for testing, of course! The 400 feet of RG8U led into the adjacent building, and after local Hams deemed the site as excellent, a Motorola 80-D mobile radio was put into repeater service, with a new low loss coax and a directional antenna protecting Waukegan and Chicago. At that time, all three repeaters were on 146.34 MHz. in, 146.76 MHz. out!

John had convinced an associate, Dick Robbins, WB9AIS, to help finance the project, and the two plowed several thousand dollars into the Milwaukee Repeater. A repeater organization was started, and the membership was able to repay Dick and John within two or three years. In about 1972, frequency coordination was catching hold, and the Milwaukee Repeater was upgraded to a solid state machine and the frequency was changed to 146.31/146.91 MHz. While pre-dated by a repeater on 146.04 MHz. in, 146.82 MHz. out, in the greater Milwaukee area, that repeater was off the air for a prolonged period when the Milwaukee Repeater was placed in service. The Milwaukee Repeater is the oldest, continuous running repeater in the Milwaukee area. For a long time, the repeater only operated as an on-site repeater, but was plagued with some RF intermod, so the input was protected and an initial 2250 Hz. tone burst was needed to bring up the system. Various tone generators were used by the various users, ranging from simple relaxation oscillators, and sophisticated IC designs to toy whistles. Once the repeater came up, it stayed up until all carriers and intermod stopped, or it timed out. Many people accessed the repeater only if someone else had brought up the system first.

The Milwaukee Repeater, 146.31 MHz. in, 146.91 MHz. out, now utilizes a sub-audible tone of 127.3 Hz. We are proud to boast of five receive sites currently.