PVARC and the many hams in the Shenandoah and Page Valleys benefit from the repeaters, packet node/digipeater and remote base station owned and maintained by the Big Mountain Repeater Association. In particular, the club is proud to consider the Association a PVARC activity, with many of the Association's members also being members of the club. The Big Mountain Repeater Association provides reliable VHF/UHF amateur radio communications services not only for routine ham operations in our mountainous area, but in support of public service events as well as communications emergencies.
The KQ4D two meter repeater can be found on a receive frequency of 146.625 mHz, standard negative transmit offset and a PL tone of 131.8 Hz. The UHF repeater is on 443.350 mHz, standard offset and a PL tone of 131.8 Hz. The packet K-node/digipeater can be found on 145.570 mHz. Contact the trustee for information regarding the operation of the remote base station.
Donations for the upkeep and improvement of the Big Mountain site are very much appreciated and can be sent to N4YSA at Mark Hensley 3109 Homestead Rd. Elkton Va. 22827
With a minimum of editing, what follows is an article written by Mark-N4YSA for submission to the MONITOR, a regional monthly newsletter.
The History of the .625
It has always been a long trip up Big Mountain to work on the repeater and it was no different Labor Day 1977 when a few Hams with dreams of a coordinated repeater on 146.625 headed toward the top of the Mountain.
This was not the first time that Big Mountain was the site for a VHF signal for several years prior, Ellsworth Neff had been operating from the site with converted Motorola Progress line equipment on 2 meters, his job as Engineer for WSVA and then WHSV made for the perfect opportunity to play radio in his spare time on the hill, which at times could be often when at the time engineers working the Big Mountain site worked 2/21 hour days per week, and where required to be on site whenever the station was on the air.
Ellsworth was not the only Ham who had the opportunity to mix work with Ham radio through the years. Tom Jones -W3HMB, Buddy Lowe-K4AVW, all at some point worked or had reason other than just amateur radio to generate RF on the mountain top and all played a roll in the history of what would become the Big Mountain Repeater Association.
WHSV, which was WSVA until 1974, has been very good to the Big Mountain Repeater Association over the years, allowing the repeater(s) to be housed in the same building and the antennas on the same tower since it was originally installed in the 1970's. Gilmore Broadcasting soon after changed to WHSV-TV.
Tom Gimbert-K4PQD was the supplier of the first transceiver/repeater on the site with the original duplexers being supplied by Warren Denton- WA4FEI and still in use. And others that where involved on the original project: Jim Landrum-W4BRH(SK), Arthur Smiley-WA4DUM(SK), Larry Heatwole-AA4TC, Ellsworth Neff- K4LXG, Phil Rinaca-KQ4D, Ike Rozzaza-K4DIW, Doug Hughes-W4BRH (which is Jim Landrum's old call), Charlie Morrison-W4BIG, Stan Cline-K4JRX.
Some of the control operators in close-to-chronological order including the original call of WR4AGT, Phil Rinaca-WB4DAK now KQ4D, Buddy Lowe K4AVW, Bill Jones KE4FM, Mel Hoover WA4OKL, Bob Nemiear-W3MMC,(SK), Lewis Hensley-WA4NIC and full circle back to Phil Rinaca-KQ4D.
The 146.625 repeater has now morphed into the Big Mountain Repeater Association, which is comprised of the 146.625 repeater, 443.350 repeater, the Big Node (BIGND) 145.57, a remote base on UHF/146.52 and numerous on going experiments. But it is still housed in the original building using the same tower, and I suspect the same family of copperheads in the rock pile at the south side of the building.