IN THE BEGINNING
SUHFARS (Schaumburg UHF Amateur Repeater Society) was started in 1974. The first repeater was an old Motorola B93AAY. It was loaded with tubes which kept the first trustee – N9TG (then WB9KCQ) busy. It was usually a weekly occurrence for him to go in and swap tubes to keep the machine running. The machine was located at Tom’s (N9TG) house in Schaumburg on a 60 ft. tower. At that time the FCC required a repeater license for repeater operation. Of course, along with the repeater license came a repeater call – WR9AGA. This call was on the repeater for a long time until the rules changed.
When the FCC eliminated repeater licenses, the trustees call ,N9TG, was put on the repeater IDer. The old tube receiver sensitivity was very poor, but most of us had little experience with UHF and didn’t know what to expect. Soon after the machine went on the air, the tube receiver was replaced with a Motrac receiver with a preamp. That really improved the coverage. The club started picking up new members. We even set a limit of 40 members so the club wouldn’t get too big.
PROBLEMS WITH THE LOCAL POLICE
With all the activity on the repeater, we soon ran into a problem. Tom, the trustee, was notified that we were interfering with the Schaumburg Police Dept. We started looking at the problem with some of the Motorola field technicians. It turns out that the police cars were hearing the repeater output full quieting on their mobile radios (Micors). The interference was so strong that we covered up the dispatcher in about half of Schaumburg! After some analysis by Motorola Systems Engineering, it was determined that the problem was a receiver spur in the P.D.s Micor mobiles. Motorola committed to fix the mobiles, but it would take a while. The repeater transmitter was shifted 15 kHz higher in frequency for a temporary fix. At that time, all the mobiles were crystal controlled and the receiver crystals would “tweak” that far. After a couple months, the mobiles were all repaired and the repeater was returned to 443.250.
Most of the club members at that time were using Motrac mobiles (T64MSTs). There wasn’t a lot of UHF activity in the area and the 4 frequencies were adequate. As Micor mobiles started to become obsolete, they started to become available to the hams. These allowed up to 12 frequencies. Soon Japanese synthesized radios became available. With more repeaters popping up and synthesized radios, the activity on the repeater started to drop. We added an autopatch to the repeater to allow members to make local calls. A Call-in feature was also added. From time to time, one of the traffic-copter reporters would call into the patch and ask for traffic condition reports when the weather was too bad to fly.
When N9TG moved out of Schaumburg, the repeater was moved to K9MFYs tower just a few blocks away. Ron (WB9EXL) loaned us a Motrac 90 watt repeater. That repeater served us well for a few years until Ron moved to Arizona. At that time, a 250 watt Motrac repeater was donated to the club. Around then, a new site was located (Atcher Tower) in Arlington Hts. The repeater was relocated there at the 225 ft level on the tower. Then we started to see what UHF would really do. That site served us well for quite a number of years, but when the rent got too high, another site had to be found. We approached Renaissance Towers in Palatine – a 14 story apartment building. It was OK with them if it was OK with the guy in charge of building maintenance. He became a little hard to please. But after the right “incentive”, he gave the OK and we moved to the elevator room. That was a good site. No mice (but that’s another story). We were about the only stations on the site for years. (We shared the site with STROKE). Then, a large local communications company discovered the site. It started getting very crowded, and the local building department decided the elevator room had too much stuff in it. Something had to go. So an arrangement was made and we moved back to Arlington Hts. – this time to the 250 ft level. Also the old Motrac was retired and replaced with a newer MSF5000 repeater. We hope this site should last us a while!
That side didn’t last too long. Developers decided that they needed that location for a strip mall since there is a big lack of strip malls in the area. The Atcher tower was torn down and we relocated again to a large tower near Lake Zurich. The club name was changed to Suburban UHF Amateur Repeater Society in late 1999 and the repeaters are in a continuous state of evolution. In 2009 the D-STAR machine was added and the Analog machine upgraded to also support P-25 digital. Also, the autopatch was discontinued due to non-use (everyone has cell phones these days) and the control link was switched to internet.
Additional D-Star repeaters are planned for the SUHFARS ‘System’ and will be linked. This is a work in progress.