delara news Delaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware OH   VOL 37 NUMBER 8


Craig MIller  W8CR

So Far, Yet So Near

Several times a year when we visit my child bride’s family in Dixie, I always make it a point to schedule a contact with my buddy Mel, K4JFF, via 2 meter FM.  Mel lives on top of a mountain in Kennesaw, Georgia with a beautiful view of downtown Atlanta. This trip, we’ll be staying out in the holler about 30 miles east of Birmingham at a cabin the in- laws built on a ridge in a heavily wooded and hilly part of Alabama.  Celebrating my mother-n- law’s 80th birthday was the main festivities for this visit.  From this location, Mel and I are over 100 miles apart, a pretty long haul for VHF FM. We have a trick.  We use a silly thing called a “repeater” that is located on top of the highest elevation in Alabama, Mt. Cheaha at 2,407 feet above sea level.  Coincidentally the mountain is east of me, and west of Mel which is a very convenient location for us to chat on a couple of watts.  Mt. Cheaha is the home of many broadcast antennas and other radio communication services along with a historic state park. The fine folks of the Calhoun County Amateur Radio Association had the foresight to install a repeater that operates on the output frequency of 147.09 MHz using the callsign WB4GNA on top of ol’ Smokey, er, I mean Mt. Cheaha.   Mel and I planned on meeting on the repeater at 1:00 Monday afternoon.  Just imagine, for us in Delaware, it’d be like talking to someone in Toledo in one hop, strictly RF, no internet tricks or clever microwave magic. If I can hit it, and he can hit it, we can hit each other (ouch).     Full quieting (is that really a word?), high fidelity FM communications ensue between us.  After several minutes if chit-chat, another station popped on the frequency asking if she could make a quick call.  “Absolutely, all yours…”.  Eileen, KM4ASI, put a call out to another station to discuss who was going to be net control for an upcoming net on the repeater: The Golden Gabbers. After her QSO, both Mel and I introduced ourselves and she checked us into the net, even though it hadn’t started yet.  We told her that Mel was in far away Kennesaw and I was outside of a town called Pell City, Alabama.  She said, “I’m near Pell City”.  Then I said that I was due west of Pell City near Chula Vista.  She said “I’m in Chula Vista”.  Weird.  I got a little more specific: “I’m just off of Chula Vista Mountain Road on Old Still Road.”  “You’re about a mile from me!”, she said.  I immediately hit the reverse button on the mobile rig to hear her input signal, FULL SCALE.  She wasn’t lying, we were close, very close.  4,000 feet close to be more specific, less than a mile as the crow flies.   Well, butter my grits!  What a small world we live in.  Chatting on a repeater that easily covers thousands (roughly 15,000) square miles of two-way radio coverage, I bump into a new friend a short walk down the road in the hills of Eastern Alabama. Eileen is a busy lady, not only is she net control for the Golden Gabbers, she is also the Secretary/Treasurer of the Baldrock Amateur Radio Club.  If that’s not enough, she just upgraded her license to General class!  She’s looking for an HF rig and excited to get on the HF bands. So folks, when you’re spinning the knob (or clicking your mouse for you hi-tek SDR guys) you may bump into KM4ASI from the Heart of Dixie. You don’t have to admit that you know me, but tell her I said “Hello neighbor!”