All officers serve through December 31 of the calendar year.

Brian Gray, KD4FUN

Kevin Moore, W4KLM
Vice President

Van Manuel, KN4YCK

Ken Zeileck, KT4V

History of the Carteret County Amateur Radio Society and the K4GRW 145.450 MHz repeater

Our repeater is owned and maintained by Bob Chambers (K4GRW) and is located on the 360-foot tower located in Morehead City near Walmart.  The antenna is a CommScope DB-224, four-element vertical array dipole.  One element is aimed Down East, one aimed out to sea, one aimed westward along the coastline, and the other aimed up 70 Hwy towards New Bern.  Our goal was to cover as much of Carteret County as possible.

The K4GRW repeater transmitter is capable of 100 watts output but we normally run at 40 watts.  There is a 100 Hertz Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System (CTCSS) tone required for the repeater receiver to hear any transmitter using the system.  We in no way attempted to keep the repeater “private”, it is freely open for any and all licensed Hams to enjoy and use 24/7.  We initially did not require a CTCSS tone, and didn’t for a long time, but we had so much interference from the commercial fishermen using illegal radios and picking random frequencies to operate on that we had no choice but to require a CTCSS tone for the repeater.

Some may wonder why the repeater is called the “Newport repeater” when it is actually located in Morehead City.  Well, about 45 years ago, Bob was working at Cherry Point MCAS as a civilian tech rep.  There were a number of Hams working in and around his office, including several Marines.  At that time the only area repeater was the Grifton repeater (146.685) that Danny Hampton had installed.  There were rumors that the New Bern Amateur Radio Club wanted to install a 2-meter amateur radio repeater but the project was stalled in club politics.  So Bob, two civilians, and two Marines (Mark Bitterlich WA3JPY and Ed Craig WB4PTP) decided they would offer technical help to the New Bern Club.  After the dust settled, Bob had volunteered to build the new repeater for the New Bern Amateur Radio Club.  One of the New Bern Club members had a salvaged General Electric Master Pro commercial repeater, so Bob and his team started out with that as a nucleus.   Next, they needed to build the control circuit cards, the phone patch and dialer (there were no cell phones or Internet back then), the audio interface card, CW ID, timers, squelch, and time-out timers.  After the repeater was ready to go, the team convinced the New Bern Club to opt for a six-cavity duplexer that cost about $800 at the time, a commercial four-element antenna ($600), and hardline ($2 per foot).  Now they needed a tower.   Mr. Sid Purvis was a Ham and New Bern Amateur Radio Club member, and a friend of the manager of Weyerhaeuser Paper Company.  Sid managed to to get permission to install the new antenna and repeater system on one of Weyerhaeuser’s towers located in Riverdale near James City.  So Mark and Ed climbed the 300-foot tower and installed the new antenna array.  The New Bern Club insisted that two of the elements point towards Jacksonville, one point towards New Bern, and one point north up the Hwy 17 corridor, so there was little coverage for Havelock and Carteret County.  The new repeater worked great, in the directions the antenna elements were pointing.

After a few years of working with the New Bern Amateur Radio Clubs 146.61 repeater, Ham activity in Carteret County on the 2-meter portable and other mobile Ham bands increased and there was more interest in Amateur Radio in the Down East area. The New Bern Clubs 146.61 repeater coverage in Carteret County was “spotty” at best with hardly any coverage beyond Morehead City.  The New Bern Club was not interested in turning one of their antenna elements towards Morehead City, so Bob Chambers and his team of four volunteers began looking for a new location in Carteret County to install another repeater.  One day, Bob was speaking to Art Gill about the teams plans and their problems securing a suitable location for a new repeater.  Art owned AnserQuick Communications Co. in Morehead City.  He donated a General Electric Master Pro repeater, and Bob modified it to work on the Ham radio bands, then he built the control interface circuits just like he did for the New Bern Amateur Radio Club.  The team members pitched in $200 each and purchased yet another six-cavity duplexer.   Art donated a surplus four-element VHF antenna and Mark donated the hardline.   The team assembled all this stuff together and had a working repeater, but had nowhere to install it.   Art’s 360-foot tower on Little Nine Road in Morehead City didn’t exist at the time, and his other tower was full.  By this time, Bob was working at the Town of Newport and got permission from the Newport water department commissioner to install the antenna on top of the towns water tower, 125 feet in height.  By this time, the team was beginning to get a lot of interest from local Hams and the Carteret County Amateur Radio Society was becoming active again.   Mark and Bob climbed the town’s water tower and installed the antenna.  The repeater worked well, but did not have a very good range, but at least Havelock, Beaufort, Morehead City, and Atlantic Beach areas had coverage.   There was still no cellular service in the area, so Bob had a residential phone line installed for the repeater and paid for the cost of the phone line himself.   After a few years, Keith Godwin took over the cost of the phone line until the Carteret County Amateur Radio Society picked up the cost of the auto patch several years later.  Eventually cellular service came to the Down East area, eliminating the need for the phone patch and landline.

Eventually the “Newport repeater" was relocated to the 500-hundred foot TV tower on 70 Hwy in Newport owned by Time Warner Cable. Bob and Ed did the installation.  Ed climbed the 500-foot tower and installed the antenna, and Art offered to allow the “Newport repeater” to share his pager company’s antenna system.   His antenna was designed for 157 MHz service, so the SWR was 3:1.  Otherwise, it worked great and there was 2-meter Ham radio coverage for most of Carteret County and much of Craven County.  It was a feat how the team made the repeater and the 300-watt paging transmitter share the same antenna.  Bob solved the problem by using a coaxial “T” fitting, then he tuned the stub coax cable from the paging transmitter to the antenna, then he used a coaxial tuned “stub” between the “T” and the repeaters 6-cavity duplexer.  Danny Hampton, who was known as “Mr. Communications” in Raleigh, NC called Bob to give a favorable signal report.   So for many years, the repeater operated efficiently from the 500-foot Time Warner Cable TV Tower in Newport.  Eventually, Art terminated his paging system contract with Time Warner, so the repeater had to shut down.  With no place to relocate the “Newport repeater", the Carteret County Amateur Radio Society put the repeater in storage.

During the time that the Carteret County Amateur Radio Society’s repeater was in storage, Mark (WA3JPY) was busy installing “Packet Digi-peaters” in Pamlico and Craven County and he needed some duplexers.  He inquired if Bob would donate his 1/4 share of the new duplexer to him, and Bob agreed.   A couple of years later, Art completed the construction of a 360-foot tower on Little Nine Road in Morehead City in the Wildwood community beside Walmart.  Robert McNeal (W4MBD), Craig Willis, and Charley Brown (K4VIR) contacted Bob and asked if he would re-install the “Newport repeater” on Arts new 360-foot tower by Walmart if they raised enough funds from local Hams to purchase a new set of duplexers and assist him with whatever he needed to get the repeater back on the air.  However, a subsequent inspection of the old GE Master Pro repeater in storage revealed that it was not worth the cost and labor to refurbish, so Art donated a surplus General Electric Master III repeater that was all solid state and in good condition.  After some modifications and re-tuning, Bob and his team got the transceiver working efficiently.  But the old repeater control system was obsolete, so Bob purchased a commercial-grade, CAT 250 Controller with all the bells and whistles.  Once again, the new repeater was working well.  The team then bought a commercial grade 4-element, 2-meter antenna array and tuned it to 145.450 MHz and Art donated the hardline.  With the help of Art Gill, Robert McNeil, and others, the team was able to get the Newport repeater back on the air.   It was several years later that the City of Morehead expanded, which put the “Newport repeater” inside the city limits of Morehead City.

73 de Bob Chambers, K4GRW
September  2nd, 2020

K4GRW Newport Repeater

Downlink 145.450 MHz,  Uplink 144.850 MHz
CTCSS Uplink Tone  100 Hz,   Offset -0.6 MHz

Carteret County Emergency Net:  first, second, and third Tuesdays at 19:30 hrs.