Often we are asked how and when the Del City Amateur Radio Society (DCARS) came into existence. I, Paul McCord, K5GLH, tell this story because it is mine and my dad’s, Paul McCord Sr, W5QO’s story. My dad was licensed before I was born as KN5GLH, later, K5GLH, later, NF5L, and finally W5QO. I was licensed in 1983 as KA5QNB, later KB7ZCO and finally K5GLH, my dad’s old call sign. We’ve both been into technology for many years. While my dad had a full time career as a government employee, his main interest was in radio, and as such, got his Broadcast Engineering credentials at Cleveland Institute of Electronics (CIE). He has worked as a Broadcast Engineer, part time for many years for stations like KOMA, KNOR and KYIS.
I was never the expert in broadcasting but computers were always an interest of mine. While I’ve never claimed or will claim to be an expert, I do enjoy learning and experimenting on computers and radio. In 2002, my wife’s mom was really sick and spent many days in the hospital and my wife was there with her most of the time. I was left at home many times, with nothing to do. I started reading up on a system called iLink, that later became Echolink. It really seemed like a cool thing because I had previous experience using it over the Internet in a very primitive condition when we lived in Alaska in 1997. At the time, my knowledge with repeaters was very limited because that was my dad’s expertise and I was living 4,000 miles away at Eielson AFB, Alaska.
I experimented with the computer based version of iLink before Echolink sort of took over. The original owner of iLink tried to prevent Echolink users from using their servers by blocking them and then finally just gave up and Echolink became the default. Echolink was much easier to use and was Windows based. Once they finally settled on that, I set up my first Echolink node, K5GLH-L using the WB2REM board. In the beginning it was VOX operated and was not very good at detecting a signal because any time someone keyed up and made a noise, it would start transmitting over someone. Finally we got it to work stable but then I started reading about Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP), a Linux based system. I have to say that what really attracted me to them was that it was on Linux and at the time, I had no experience with them. At that time, virtually everything on Linux was command line operated. It was a real challenge in the beginning because I was very ignorant on how to use Linux, and secondly I had very little knowledge on how repeaters worked.
At the time, I had no idea that a repeater had a carrier operated squelch (COS), much less how they worked. In July 2002, I ordered an IRLP board and received it in August. I played around with it and finally figured out how it worked and how to hook it up to a basic mobile radio for a simplex configuration. After finally getting it to work on September 4, 2002, Node 8440 was born. It was a huge learning curve for me and since it was the only one within 100 miles of Oklahoma City, I knew that no one would know how to use it. No one here had even heard of IRLP at the time, much less, knew how it worked. I decided to put up a “how to” web site and add an announcement every 10 minutes that not only gave the “K5GLH Link” identification but also announce to go the web site. I had no idea what web site to use so I thought about it and realized there was no Del City Amateur Radio Club (DCARC) so I jokingly registered a delcityarc.com address that later became http://delcityars.com.
On this web site, I put a contact email so that people could ask questions and it didn’t take long before I was receiving so many emails that I had to put together a form letter to answer them all. Later, in November, my dad wanted to get into the fun and so he built node 3867, which is now the 146.7 MHz repeater. We modified the web site to list both of them. At the time, both nodes were on simplex. Later, my dad, W5QO decided to purchase a few radios that he converted into repeaters. The 3867 was the first to go on the air on the only frequency available at the time, 145.25. This was a horrible frequency because it had all sorts of interference from leaky cable TV lines all over the metro.
Later, node 8440 became 443.3 MHz and signed on as a repeater as well. For a while, the 145.25 MHz repeater was on my dad’s personal home tower and the 443.3 was on my personal home tower. In 2010, I decided that I wanted to move, big mistake. I sold my tower, put the 443.3 antenna on the side of my dad’s tower, at a much reduced height and that is where it resides today. That explains why the 443.3 repeater has such a limited range because it is only 35 feet up from the ground on the West side of his tower. If you live to the East of Del City, you really struggle to hear, much less talk into the 443.3 repeater.
Later, the opportunity arose to change the frequency of the 145.25 repeater to 146.7. This was a real challenge and we owe a lot to Merlin Griffin, WB5OSN for working with us for months trying to find an open frequency. I can’t say how much I appreciate his help getting this new frequency pair coordinated.
Later we added Echolink as an add-on to both IRLP nodes but in November 2006, the 8440 became an official affiliate of the Western Intertie Network (WIN System). This is an invention of Jeff (Shorty) Stouffer, K6JSI. He had already built a network of RF connected repeaters all over the state of California but more recently added the capability of IRLP. He got exclusive rights to one of the IRLP reflectors and all of the affiliated stations connected on a 24 hour basis. This node remains an affiliate to this date.
Early on we discussed whether or not we wanted to become a member run club and decided not to. The reason for this was that my dad had invested thousands of dollars into equipment and I had invested hundreds, if not thousands of hours working on these computer networks. This is not to mention the time and money that was donated by Larry Cline, KD5MAF. He has helped on antenna work, cable building, moderating the repeaters during bad times. We also had some computer equipment that was donated by David Box, K5DBX. This guy has to be the most friendly person I’ve ever met. David, if you are still around, we thank you, not just for the computer equipment but for just being a nice guy. We also had someone donate an antenna years ago but for the life of me, I cannot remember his call sign. It was our fear that if we opened the club to become member run, then the very equipment that we had invested in could be voted out of our hands and lose possession of them. For this reason, we’ve kept our club as sort of an informal entity with no formal meetings.
We also decided not to put the repeaters on taller towers elsewhere because we had no access to them if they failed. Once you put a system on someone else’s tower, you lose access to them and so working on them becomes a challenge to us and the people that own the tower. We would consider the idea if the opportunity arose to install them with no strings attached but that is highly unlikely.
In 2003 we applied for a club call sign and was issued KE5ABP and then we applied for and received the vanity call sign W5DEL on February 13, 2004, at the urging of Ron Williamson, KX5RW. It was the perfect call sign to represent Del City and we loved and promptly applied for it. On August 23, 2010 we changed the club name from Del City Amateur Radio Club (DCARC) to Del City Amateur Radio Society (DCARS).
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