In November of 2014, a small group of very dedicated local radio enthusiasts began work on a new project, the Wilson County Radio League. Our mission statement was discussed, a constitution was written and a club callsign was acquired. The goal of this project was “to better ourselves and to serve the community by continually maintaining, practicing and improving our communication and technical abilities. The Wilson County Radio League is primarily focused on amateur radio, but encompasses all types of auxiliary communication.” In December of that same year, we gathered together for our very first meeting. Applications were turned in, goals were discussed and the idea of a KM4GHM repeater was birthed.
To commemorate that anniversary and the passing of 2015, we have put together this post to cover the highlights and turning points of our first year. So many things have happened and changed, we are truly proud of how far we have come and where we are going.
On the Second Sunday of December, 2014, approximately 10 of us met at a temporary meeting location. Applications were signed, elections were held and the League was born. Discussion of the KM4GHM repeater project was heavy that night with
large amounts of money being raised a focus on finding a way to get a repeater without bankrupting our Trustee
Antenna Build Day
Antenna build day was postponed once due to our infamous ice storm which kept many League members volunteering with other organizations or trapped in their homes. A couple of weeks later we had a successful build day in a member’s personal shop. A good time was had, and I regret that the event was not documented with photographs
Repeater Work and Struggles
The repeater project was birthed weeks before the League itself was even founded. Work was being done on this project the entire time, but a WCRL news article did not mention it until it’s Hello World moment in July. From feed line issues to having a machine that literally put out microwatts, we learned that the words “easy” and “repeater” do not belong in the same sentence. Blood, sweat and tears went in to the project before everything finally came together, sometimes visiting the site 3 or 4 times in a week to work on it. We broke things, burnt things and uncovered new problems the whole way, having fun and learning a tremendous amount about repeaters
In early June, Jeremy (N7VXX) took on the management of the blogroll portion of this website, giving it the current name of The WCRL News. The idea was to help show potential members what we do and to help relay the message that we are an active, project oriented group. Jeremy still heads this up in his current position of Public Information Officer
When it came time to start growing the League’s membership base, it became evident that we needed a more centralized and more public location. Cumberland University was generous enough to allow us use of our current meeting location.
Mobile Command Post Phase 1
Our beloved MCP started it’s life as a mobile darkroom many years ago. The primary person driving this project was Nicholas (KK4UTQ) who purchased the shell off of craigslist and began work. With time and equipment donations from virtually all of our members, MCP phase 1 was outfitted in time to make it’s debut at Field Day 2015
Our very first field day weekend was a busy one, attending the WARC field day as guests and holding our own training exercise Sunday. The MCP made it’s debut, along with a weekend of educational fun, sweat and some good food
In early July, the League took on management of the Greater Nashville Ham Radio Operators Forum. The web development team created an excellent new website for the forum, rewarded by a huge membership growth over the previous Yahoo! group
The golden hour arrived in late june, our first repeater went on line! Despite the heat and intense sunlight, we had a great turnout to help put this 8/9 month project to bed (though as our trustee could testify to, you are never truly “done” with a repeater)
With the repeater on line, it was time to start up the weekly training net. We are proud to say that the net has been a great success and has supplied training on some topic of interest every session
Thanks to equipment and time donations from Jacob (W4JZE) and Nicholas (KK4UTQ) KM4GHM-R Echolink was brought on line in August
In conjunction with Chickenroadlabs, the League set up a portable radio station at the Nashville Mini Maker Faire to help garner interest in radio communications. Our part of the event went well and we talked to several different people who were interested in our hobby. The event organizers decisively crushed the attendance level by levying an admission fee, which was a disappointment to those of us who attended the same event last year. Our part in #Nashvillemakerfaire was a success, but the decision was made to #skipmakerfaire2016
In October we held our first open house, with the goal of attracting people who would not otherwise have considered becoming involved in radio communications. Though the event was not large, what our guests lacked in quantity was more than made up for in quality
Due to a catastrophic failure with the MCP’s trailer, we decided it was time to take the next step and make some improvements to the Command Post. In addition to some equipment upgrades, the Command Post was permanently placed in a truck (Thanks Nicholas) to help make future transportation and setup easier. The improvements are not entirely complete as of yet, and MCP phase 2 will be revealed during our upcoming winter training exercise
One year after the League’s charter, we held our first Christmas party and elected officers for 2016 The food was great and a good time was had by all
During the Christmas meeting, we officially raised enough funds to purchase a Yaesu DR-1X repeater. This will be put on 444.950MHZ, allowing the old machine to be a portable/backup repeater. We intend to have this on line sometime in January 2016
Told as it was, that was our 2015 in review. With the reveal of MCP Phase 2, the DR-1X repeater going on line and a winter field day, 2016 promises to be an exciting year for us as well. Happy New Years!!!
//Noah (N4OAH) and Jeremy (N7VXX)