NABRC Early History
The club was originally founded in 1955 by K3AJB – Jim Prescott, K4AOA-Bobby Mosely, K4AWG-Don Marvin, W4BAR- Julian Holmes, K4DAH-Lee Hill, K4IMY-Don Dickert, W4KVF-Tom Arnold, K4DML, (now W4LWT)-Jim Murray, and his brother, W3IUX, W4PED-Charlie Wright, W4QCC-Dick Schoenfelder (now K4FKJ), W4SOY-Hank Stone, W4TUN-Bill White and Wally Carswell-W4THH (and probably some more that I don’t remember!).
Original Club officers were W4THH, President and W4TUN, K4AWG and W4PED. As the name implies, THE intended coverage for the club was the North Augusta-Belvedere area, since other clubs were in existence in Augusta and Aiken. Not until the 1970s when the Aiken club dissolved, did we expand to include most of Aiken County. The name has not been changed because our certificate of incorporation as a non-profit organization lists us as the North Augusta Belvedere Radio Club and it is an involved process to change it.
The club originally met in a room upstairs in the North Augusta City Hall (about where the Police Dispatch office is now). Traditionally, after the formal meetings, the members adjourned up Georgia Avenue to the “White Midget”, a diner constructed from an old railroad or streetcar. Later, we changed to meeting in various club members, which continued until we started meeting at Aiken Tech in the late 1970’s.
One of the first projects of the new club was a licensing class which yielded an eager crew of new young hams – among them: K4MQG, Gary Dixon a prominent DXer who now lives in Charlotte, NC, K4MQL – Jim Burdette who has lived in North Augusta and participated in club activities during several periods in the past, Roger Devore, K4LMK (little mean kid) who now lives in Florida, K4IVI, Ronald Whitlaw, who now lives in Mississippi, and Ronald’s dad, Ben, who never got his ham ticket but supported all of the club’s activities for years until his death. Ben was the club’s unofficial Field Day cook and permanent honorary member – more about this later. There are many more who have become active hams after starting their ham radio career in the NABRC classes.
One of the first recorded activities for the club was a station setup in the lobby of the old movie theater in downtown North Augusta during the celebration of the North Augusta Centennial in 1956. Field Day competition started that year also and has continued on a yearly basis since then.
The club was incorporated as an “eleemosynary” (non-profit) organization in 1958.
Transmitter hunting started in 1957, but is different from hunts of recent years as then hunts were conducted on the 75-meter phone band (After one preliminary hunt, set up by the Augusta Club on 10 meters). At that time the local frequency for rag-chewing and general contacts was 3807kcs (now known as kHz!). A copy of the rules is attached to this document. This went on almost monthly for several years. Back then, a mobile rig wasn’t a neat little box like we have today, but was big, and the power supply usually consisted of an even bigger dynamotor, mounted in the trunk or under the hood.
1957 found the hams making news again, when Russia put up the first Sputnik satellite, W4KYN and W4AIB of Aiken made the front pages with stories of their tracking and calculations of paths and W4PED’s recording of the sounds of Sputnik made the 6 o’clock news on channel 6.
Early Field Day operations were at “Panic Pond”, a small public swimming pool and community building located where the North Augusta Community Center now stands. In 1958, the club Field Day operations moved to the field located next to Ben Whitlaw’s residence on Whitlaw Rd. and next to Ben’s cornfield. The reward for operating the midnight shift in those days was a mid-morning (3am) snack of corn picked directly from the field and roasted on the spot! Later we operated at the river-front home of Jim Prestwood one year (1961) and , for several years from the ball field at Paul Knox Jr. High School (now middle school). In 1975 the Field Day operations was from Odell Weeks Park in Aiken. Since then most of the operations have been from the K4AWY/K4AWZ location in Edgefield County.
During the 60’s and 70’s the club worked closely with the North Augusta City and Aiken County Civil Defense officials and along with the Aiken Club, had a functional program. With a change in civil defense officials in the mid 70’s, the potential of the hams was no longer recognized and since that time, with the exception of the efforts of the Aiken Red Cross, and the Weather Bureau in Augusta, All emergency communications preparedness has been in the hands of the club organization. Handling communications for road races, and bicycle races has been part of the training for potential emergency communications. On several occasions the club has also handled the relaying of elections results to a number of locations in the county to demonstrate out capabilities and to practice such setups.
The club has also set up demonstration stations and displays at hobby fairs, Aiken’s Makings, the Jack-o-Lantern Jubilee and other functions to demonstrate ham radio to the public.
One of the most important phases of the club is its repeater currently K4FKJ/RPT. The original repeater, licensed as WR4ABB, with W4PED as licensee, was installed in September 1973 with its antenna on top of the water tower on Wells Ave. and radio equipment in housings at the bottom of the tower. After a very short attempt to use borrowed rigs, the club purchased a GE Progress line repeater, a control circuit was designed and built by club members, the duplex cavities were fabricated by K4FR and the repeater was on the air. The original antenna was a commercial one, belonging to the county Civil Defense Organization. This antenna after causing repeated trouble was replaced by a “Ringo Ranger” in 1975. Also in 1975, new coax was installed and the antenna replaced with another of the same type. In March of 1984, the current “Super Station Master” Antenna was installed.
C.N. Wright, W4PED (SK) 4/11/88