History of the club

This is the sign in book for the corn roast held at Lloyd Ault’s VE3BLR place in Cedar Haven Park in 1978. Submitted by Bob Howard:

Compiled & written by EJ Gilchrist VE3BHA

What is VE3STP? It is an amateur radio two metre repeater located on top of Kenelly’s Mountain in the Mount St. Patrick range at a point about half way between highway 132 and the Black Donald Road (formerly part of highway 508) and approximately 15 miles southwest of the town of Renfrew, Ont.

It begins……
On Friday November the 29th 1968 a group of Radio Amateurs, in the National Capital area, who were interested in VHF amateur repeater operation, met at the home of Arn Petch VE2SD in Hull, Quebec. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the possible formation of a group or association whose purpose would be to establish a regional Amateur Radio Repeater that would give radio coverage over the highways and towns west of Ottawa. No coverage existed in that area except for the limited coverage given by the Ottawa repeater VE2CRA.

The conclusion was reached that it would be very desirable to have a repeater located on top of Mount St. Patrick (elevation 1450 ft.) to cover an area encompassing Ottawa, Smiths Falls, Perth, Kaladar, Madoc, Arnprior, Renfrew, Deep River, Pembroke, Petawawa, Barry’s Bay, and Bancroft for mobiles and possibly, if not likely, Kingston, Belleville, Peterborough, and Haliburton for fixed stations with beam antennas.

Temporary executive officers for the new group were appointed and consisted of:
-VE3OZ Doug Pepper, Chairman
-VE3CEZ Lyle Ward, Vice Chairman
-VE3GP Jim Trafford, Secretary-Treasurer
-VE2MX Frank Bedard, Technical Director
In addition a list of Directors were named.
Several possibilities for a name for the group were discussed. There was however general agreement that “THE CHAMPLAIN REGIONAL REPEATER ASSOCIATION” would be very satisfactory since the major coverage area would be the territory that had been covered by Samuel de Champlain in his explorations.

Discussed also at the meeting were the problems that might arise while establishing and operating a VHF repeater. Valuable advice was offered by George Roach VE3BNO, from his experience with VE2CRA. It was noted that Francois (Frank) Bedard had spent much time and considerable money in developing and building a very fine looking and operating repeater. Noted also was that Tony Vandenbelt VE3FXG had constructed a cavity filter for the receiver, and that Bob Pepper VE3GKR had donated a F.E.T. pre-amplifier for the receiver. Tony later asked to have the record set straight and noted that he did not construct the cavity but only scrounged it from VE3BTF and then made some alterations to it.

Choice of frequencies was also discussed and the decision was made to pick frequencies which were in most common use around Ontario and Quebec but which would still be non interfering as far as possible. At this point you may wonder why pick common frequencies? It must be remembered that at the time all rigs were crystal controlled and that crystals were expensive as well as hard to come by. It was therefore practical to use, as much as possible, frequencies for which people already had crystals.

Those attending the meeting were also informed that negotiations, for a suitable site, were under way and that further information would be released as it became available.

In a letter dated January 2, 1969 written under the letterhead of “CHAMPLAIN REGIONAL REPEATER ASSOCIATION” which must have by then been the official name of the group, a status report was made on the progress towards locating a repeater site. The report said that considerable progress had been made in negotiating for permission to use the existing Ontario Department of Highways location on top of Kenelly’s Mountain in the Mount St. Patrick range and that the site was inspected on Dec 1, 1968 by VE2MX, K7LRV Dick Gamlin, VE3GKR and VE3OZ, and found to be very suitable.

The report went on to say that the Renfrew Amateur Radio Group on behalf of and in cooperation with the CRRA were trying to enlistthe help of the Renfrew Emergency Measures Organization in obtaining permission to use the Mount St. Patrick location. Also mentioned as a possible site, was the forestry tower which was located almost exactly on the present site of VE3STP.

Still in the same letter was mentioned that agreement had been reached with the Ottawa Amateur Radio Club that the frequencies 147.060 output and 146.340 input were a suitable combination to use for VE3STP. A request was made for equipment still needed (2- 5/8 wave length antennas) (250 ft. RG8U cable). It was noted that the Renfrew County Group was in need of 2 metre mobile equipment and possibly a couple of fixed stations and an effort was to be made to find them equipment at reasonable prices.
In some rough notes dated 24 January, 1969, which I believe were written by Doug Pepper VE3OZ, there is mention of possible swapping of input frequencies with VE2CRA i.e. VE3STP will take VE2CRA’s 146.460 input and CRA would take STP’s 146.34 input.

In correspondence relating to the site negotiations, call signs such as VE3YX Jack Hitchcock and VE3FFU Tom Bailey come up quite often and it is obvious they played a big role in obtaining permission to use the Mount St. Patrick site. And permission did come. In a letter from Department of Highways for Ontario dated February 20, 1969 written to Mr Elmer Goltz of the Renfrew County Emergency Measures Organization, under which permission was granted to locate a “radio repeater and associated antennas at our Mount St. Patrick site”, “this letter constitutes your authority to proceed with the proposed installation”.

With the letter of permission received, activity and interest towards getting the repeater on the air increased considerably. A letter was written to the then Federal Department of Transport requesting a licence for the repeater and also requesting the call sign VE3EMO; whether or not the repeater ever used that call sign is not documented, however Bob Stuart VE3FZS assures me that it was VE3STP from day one.

A meeting of the CRRA was called for April 11, 1969 at the QTH of Doug Pepper VE3OZ and was attended by:

-VE3CEZ Lyle Ward, Ottawa
-K7LRV/VE3 Dick Gamlin, Ottawa
-VE3AZF Ross Barker, Ottawa
-VE3FXG Tony Vandenbelt, Ottawa
-VE3BSB Barry Crampton, Stittsville, Ont
-VE3GKR Bob Pepper, Ottawa and Montreal
-VE3FZS Bob Stuart, Renfrew, Ont
-VE3AGN Cliff Brown, Deep River, Ont
-VE3YX Jack Hitchcock, Deep River, Ont
-VE3BLR Lloyd Ault, Communications Co-ordinator EMO Pembroke
-VE2MX Francois Bedard, Lucerne, Que
-VE2BMH Ralph Hindle, Aylmer East, Que
-VE3GP Jim Trafford, Ottawa
-VE3BNO George Roach, Ottawa
-VE3FFU Tom Bailey, Petawawa, Ont
-VE2NM Clarence Humber, Aylmer East, Que
-VE3SZ Lorne Doreen, Deep River, Ont
-VE3ETO Tom Maxwell, Mountain, Ont
-VE2SD Arn Petch, Hull, Que
-VE3OZ Doug Pepper, Ottawa

The purpose of the meeting was to plan the installation of the repeater. Agreement was reached that May 3, 1969 would be the installation day.

It was noted that there were still a few items to be collected, but that the following commitments had been made:

VE3OZ would modify the antennas, make up phasing hardware and check them out. They would be all assembled ready to be hoisted into place with the tower mounting plates attached.

K7LRV would arrange to get another tower mounting plate made as well as an antenna plate, using the ones they had as a sample.

VE2MX would check the one tower mounting plate that they had to be sure it would be ok on the tower.

VE2NM and VE2BMH would assist VE3OZ in cutting and threading the one and one quarter inch galvanized water pipe to be used for antenna support structures.

VE3AZF and VE2MX would try to procure four, one half inch Alucel cable fittings.

VE3AZF was to procure waterproof compound and plastic tape.

VE2MX would procure 100 feet of 1/2 inch rope and a pulley.

VE3ETO would also bring along a 100 ft. length of 1/2 in. rope.

VE2SD would probably be able to locate a voltage regulator.

VE3BNO was able to supply Wraplock for co-axial cable on the tower.

VE2MX and VE3BNO were each bringing climbing belts.

Four or five safety helmets were required. VE3BNO, VE2MX, VE3AZF indicated they each could bring one.

Many indicated they would bring tools or would supply tools to those going.

VE2BMH would supply his station wgon to transport the repeater, and any other items that were too large for a passenger car.

Those who were to be involved in the installation were advised to bring enough food and beverage for themselves for one good meal at the very least. “we may be late in finishing”.

VE2MX, VE3BNO, VE3ETO and VE3DTC indicated their willingness to climb.

Insurance to cover liability and accident for the day was to be purchased for the May 3rd expedition as per arrangements made by Jim VE3GP.

VE3GP reported on finances stating that “we have over $100.00 available for expenses. So far we have not had to use any of this money, but with the insurance premium and other expenses coming up we will now have to dip into the reserves.”

Tom Bailey VE3FFU, Jack Hitchcock VE3YX, and Lloyd Ault VE3BLR, reported on the activities of the Renfrew County Club and it was also reported that the Renfrew Group would appoint two directors to represent them on the CRRA.

Jim Trafford VE3GP and Arn Petch VE2SD were requested to stand by in Ottawa on the day of the installation to assist in
communications, as well as to supply test signals and measure repeater output signals for those at the site. VE2CRA was to be used for the initial communications with the hope that they could use 147.060 out and 146.340 in with “our new call VE3STP” if the installation could be completed in one day.

On the day of the big project, May 3rd, VE2CRA would be used for decision making, and at 7:00 A.M. “Bob Stuart VE3FZS will give us weather information for Mount St. Patrick”.

A letter to the CRRA members dated April 29, 1969 advised that the licence for VE3STP had been received and that “weather permitting we should have the repeater on the air this coming weekend”. The weather on the big day was very threatening in Ottawa but Bob’s report of clearing in the Mount St. Patrick area meant everything was “GO”. The installation was completed on May 3rd, and for those of us who knew him it was very fitting that the first station to work through VE3STP was “The Senator” VE3GP Jim Trafford. If the mighty mountain had known what stories were to flow through that
repeater from the lips of Jim, prodded on no doubt by Bunny Utronki VE3AVD, (Sugar Dog) Arn Petch VE2SD, (Swampy) Bill Marsh VE3SB, (Just Plain) Bill Barrie VE3AAS and goodness knows how many others that we are not aware of, perhaps it would never have allowed them there, but more on the stories later.

June 2, 1969. “Our repeater VE3STP has been operating for a month now with no problems. It is being used more and more each day. Coverage is about as predicted.”

October 20, 1969. “Our repeater on Mount St. Patrick has provided excellent service through the summer.”

A CRRA newsletter dated March 4, 1970 reads in part “our repeater, VE3STP has been performing very satisfactorily through the winter and fortunately no trips to Mount St. Patrick for maintenance purposes have been necessary. This must be some kind of a record for amateur repeaters and would be considered excellent for a commercial installation”. “The duplexer is available but not yet adjusted to frequency”. “This duplexer would allow us to use the upper antenna for both receiving and transmitting”. “A transistorized receiver will be available to replace the present Motorola Sensicon receiver. This receiver may be slightly better, sensitivity wise, but improvement over the Motorola unit with the F.E.T. preamplifier will be marginal”. “Art, VE3CGD is well along with the automatic identifier for the repeater”. “A 100 watt transmitter will be available to replace the present 50 watt unit”.

A May 12, 1970 newsletter said: “The new transmitter has been installed and is operating at 80 watts output. Francois had
considerable difficulty for a time with high white noise output from, this unit, which desensitized the receiver badly. He has
corrected this with some transmitter modifications and a transmitting cavity filter”.

A newsletter from CRRA dated December 17, 1970 reported on a meeting that was held on December 4, 1970 at the Carp home of VE3CGD Art Childerhose and his wife Helen, attended by 18 people. “Helen’s home baked beans and other food was delicious”. The bank balance was reported as $121.74 and it was agreed to hold the dues for 1971 at $5.00. “There was one repeater failure in October which was repaired by VE2MX, with VE3GP holding the light and swatting the wasps which Jim says were as big as pigeons, and darted around like hummingbirds”. A letter from the Renfrew County Amateur Radio Club dated November 28, 1970 was read and recommended that a daily call-in period be established similar to a net where stations could meet, pass traffic, or arrange for Q.S.O.

This mini-net has been in operation on a trial basis since November 16, meeting daily at 18.50 to 19.00 hrs. local time and has had a very enthusiastic turnout each evening. It is planned to continue this arrangement. (hence the STP mini-net) A list of items needed by different hams was mentioned also, VE3YX needed some circuit diagrams and would also like to obtain a 25 watt G.E. Progress line mobile, VE3YN Jens Jensen from Sharbot Lake needed a base station (He could relay into VE3KBR area), VE3DKV George Simpson from Pembroke was looking for a Marconi DJ86 base station and also a transistorized mobile supply to replace the dynamotor in his motorola 80D.

A CRRA newsletter dated October 4, 1971 makes mention of a corn roast that was held in August “Bob’s corn was delicious”.

A meeting of the CRRA was held on October 29, 1971 with 17 people in attendance. The financial report showed a balance of $67.66. The executive was discussed and the present executive agreed to stay on for one more year. A suggestion that it would be of advantage to have an additional vice president was considered to be worthwhile and the name of George Simpson VE3DKV of Pembroke was put forward. George agreed to accept the position. His duties were to be to assist the president and help with matters concerning the membership around Renfrew, Pembroke, Petawawa and Deep River.

It was mentioned that the mini-net had been very successful and that there had been a good number of members check in each evening.

A new membership list was issued with 38 members listed.

In a letter to the membership dated September 25, 1972 announcing an upcoming general meeting to be held at his home on October 20, Doug Pepper VE3OZ noted his intention to resign as president of the group. “I think it is time for someone else to take over the direction of the association. I have enjoyed working with the group and co-operation has been beyond expectations.”