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©1996—2023 CMARA

This is the W1BIM Repeater

Freq: 146.97 PL: 114.8
Trustee: Greg Algieri, WA1JXR

Jim Singer, N1EKO (President)
Tom Gauvin, NE1NH
(Vice President)
Patrick Perkins, KO1NE (Treasurer)
Dan Rau, K1RAU (Secretary)
Lyn Glagowski, WB1CCL

Board of Directors
Greg Algieri, WA1JXR
Connor Gumbrell, KC1MMT
George Gumbrell, KA3RLZ
Gil Hayes, WK1H
Selina Lovett, KC1SDL
Adrian Zeffert, AB2IX

CMARA History

Central Massachusetts
Amateur Radio Association


History of the Central Massachusetts Amateur Radio Association and it's Predecessors and Progeny

Club Presentation, February 16th, 2017

The Club

On March 13, 1935, G. W. Bailey, then Director of the New England Division of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), approved an application from the Central Massachusetts Radio Association for affiliation with the ARRL. In certificate dated March 8, 1935, Mr. Bailey recited that the club had 24 members, of whom 21 were licensed amateur radio operators, and 13 of whom were ARRL members. The certificate makes reference to a charter, but that has not been found in the club records. Thus, this certificate is the earliest record yet found of what would later be known as the Central Massachusetts Amateur Radio Association (CMARA). The certificate indicates that Harold A. Johnson was the President and M. C. Nicols was the Secretary.

As the earliest Amateur Radio days of spark transmission were abandoned in favor of narrower bandwidth CW and AM Modes of operation, Amateurs began to migrate to temporary portable stations, a practice known as "hilltopping". This came about much through the work of Australian Amateur operator, Ross Hull, VK3JU, who did extensive 5 meter operation in the 1930's from a hilltop residence in West Hartford, Ct. Reception of his and other A.R.R.L. early experiments on VHF were relayed in stages originating in Hartford, CT., to Port Cherry Tower on Wilbraham Mountain, to The Summit House on Wachusett Mountain, and over into Boston, MA. It is unclear whether CMARA members took part in these experiments, but so much enthusiasm ensued from using VHF from portable locations, that an early interest was surely sparked in the latter 1930's in areas including greater Worcester! This concept of relaying messages became both the foundation of The National Traffic System, Emergency message handling, and was eventually mimicked in the technical design of "Repeaters" to relay Radio Frequency and even later, digital transmissions.

As documented in other sources World War II resulted in restrictions on the use of radio by amateurs. Probably for this reason, as well as the Country's broad involvement in the war effort and of the number of amateurs who served in the military at the time, few records exist of any club activities during the period.

After World War II was over, a renewed interest in Amateur operation soared. Being able to legally transmit again, combined with the availability of inexpensive War surplus equipment resulted in many newer hams arriving at the doorstep of the Amateur Hobby. Availability of surplus Signal Corps equipment easily converted to use on VHF began an interest in 2 meter operation. This was before Repeater technology was invented. Amateurs converted surplus ARC-5 Air Corp equipment to operation on 160, 80, and 40 meters. The Ham Bands came alive again, after 6 years of dormancy.

The earliest notes by Franny Moy, W1SPG, indicate that the Hilltop Radio Club was founded in 1948 by Harry Persson, W1EJD, who served as President until 1952. Meetings were held in a number of locations, including The American Red Cross Chapter House, 61 Harvard Street and classes were later held at YMCA in Worcester. Other founding members were Jim Carpenter, W1BIM, Dan Conlin, W1OPU, Tony Kurkierius, W1ONA. and Herman Gruzin, W1AAP. The clubhouse was described as being on Dead Horse Hill (Stafford Street, Worcester). The club possessed a 250 watt transmitter and a Hammarlund receiver. Meetings were held at Worcester Steel and Wire, according to the notes. It is not clear whether the members of the Hilltop Radio Club were aware of the existence of the Central Massachusetts Radio Association or whether the Central Massachusetts Radio Association was active at that time.

Early Amateur Radio instructors from this era included Jim Carpenter, W1BIM (the first instructor), followed by Harry Sprague, W1CLU, Ed Rice, K1PCV, Ronnie Graveline, K1RNG, Dan Lorusso, W1HER, Bob Heck, W1JLA, Anne Gillette, ex WA1OAS later VE2WH, Franny Moy, W1SPG, Gerry Finkle, WB1GSO in the 1970's, and later, Greg Altieri, WA1JXR.

In 1949, the Hilltop club held its first "gab fest" which apparently was a predecessory of later ham conventions. The club continued to sponsor "gab fests" every year until 1960 when it was replaced by the New England ARRL Regional Convention.

In 1953, the Hilltop club changed its name to the Central Massachusetts Amateur Radio Association (CMARA). By then, the club had adopted Jim Carpenter's call sign, W1BIM, as its own. Since this was long before "vanity licensing" it's not clear whether this was an official change or an informal allocation by Jim. Franny Moy, W1SPG, served as President of the CMARA in 1953 and 1954 and again in 1957.

During the latter 1950's and early into 1960, the Club met in many different locations. In 1962, disagreements regarding insurance liabilities of club members resulted in a fracture in Club membership. Since the Club was not incorporated at this time with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, most members feared personal financial liability should a claim be made against the Club for any reason. A motion was presented to fold up the Club and divide the Treasury amongst all current members. Franny Moy, W1SPG, suggested that the Club not disband, and came up with an idea of "The Key Club", to rejuvenate CMARA. As part of his idea, a portion of his downtown Worcester apartment would serve as a clubhouse. The rent would be split by all members, who in turn would be given keys for unlimited access. The rent was to be divided by the 15 remaining members who approved that night of Franny Moy's plan. Initial rent was $21.50 per member. As a result of the fear of individual liability, CMARA membership declined in one night from approximately 130 members, to these 15 bold members willing to take a stand to continue the Club at a more permanent location. In short time, however, membership expanded once again and the Club treasury was restored.

Franny Moy's apartment on Mechanic Street in Worcester served as the "clubhouse" for several years until the property was cleared in 1965 for construction of the Worcester Galleria which was later renovated and known by other names. This new meeting place, 98 Mechanic Street in Worcester, was laid out as follows: Living Room- meeting hall, Side Room- Code room, Kitchen- Lounge with TV, stove and of course, coffee pot, and Back Room- Radio room, Pantry- Club workshop.

Later, in 1965, the club was finally incorporated in Massachusetts. The signers of the first corporate papers were Walt Giard, WA1CMW, Don Eastwood, K1WNN, Herb Fairbanks, WA1EVV, Izzy Meltzer, W1ACP, Bob Heck, W1JLA, Franny Moy, W1SPG, and John Smith, K1VNT. Several meetings were held at the American Legion Post on Main Street, Worcester. There was now nothing to fear in the way of personal liability lawsuits. In December, 1972, the incorporation papers were filed with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Club was reincorporated in 1990

In 1966, Urban development for the Worcester Outlet Garage demolished Franny Moy's Apartment (now also demolished in 2014). In 1967, the club meeting spot was moved to Spencer at the invitation of Bill Breault, WA1GTM. Also in that year, the Central Massachusetts Amateur Radio Association, Inc. was affiliated with the ARRL

With the advent of great technological growth in the 1960's stemming from the NASA Space Program, the first of many Amateur Radio satellites and linear transponders were launched into orbit by many different countries. In 1972, CMARA joined AMSAT, the American group responsible for the launch of OSCAR Earth orbiting satellites. Vacuum tube construction had by now surrendered to solid state, and now many amateur radio operators began to abandon their heavy, tube-based equipment (called "boat anchors" by some hams) in favor of the more compact solid state designs. The byproduct of NASA Space efforts were beginning to bring integrated circuit design and digital technology into all facets of electronics, Ham Radio not withstanding.

Field Day is first mentioned in the club records in 1968. It was held at the Leicester Airport which was formerly located on Marshall Street, Leicester. Yearly Field Day operations remained a priority in CMARA as a readiness test for Emergency Amateur Radio service. In more recent history, Field Day even continued despite extraordinary high winds during a freak 2015 storm front! Also, during 1968, the concept of 2-meter FM was introduced to the club by Bob Heck, W1JLA and John Terrell, W1DRP. A sizable number of surplus commercial "Pre- Progress" line GE mobile radios were obtained and converted to amateur use. A 2-meter group was formed and the beginnings of a repeater were developed. More on this will be shared, below.

The location of CMARA Club meetings changed many times in the 1970's, and by 1975, Club membership was declining. Franny Moy, W1SPG, once again suggested the Club return to Worcester at Civil Defense Headquarters. Membership skyrocketed, and the Club was able to curtail expenses, and once again operate in the black.

In 1981, a design contest was initiated for a Club flag and it was constructed by Terry Moy, KA1DGU. From 1952 to 1977, many Club Newsletters were produced by a variety of Club members. Also in 1981, the first long duration Club newsletter, "Ham Chatter", was published, Francis Kendall, W1UEO won a 5/8 wave 2 meter magmount antenna for coming up with the winning title. Under the editorial direction of Franny Moy, W1SPG until 1996, the CMARA Newsletter became one of the best Club publications in the United States in many hams eyes. It was recognized as far away as VE2 land as being one of the best edited club newsletters, and in the years of its publication, many hams including K1WGN, WA1EDS, K1UOT, KS1B, NE1C, W1GGL, AE1DG, WA1FIH, W1DFW, WA1FNN, and NE1O to name a few, tirelessly Published and Circulated "The Ham Chatter" newsletter. By 1997, it became a drain on Club resources as the effort became too expensive and time consuming to produce. In it's heydey, though, IT WAS QUITE a publication!

Revised incorporation papers were signed in January of 1981 for the CMARA Club. From as early as 1948, continuing into the new millenium 2000, countless ham radio classes were run starting with instructions by Jim Carpenter, W1BIM, and most recently by Greg Algieri, WA1JXR. Over the next 25 years, MANY club volunteers (too many to mention here, but powerfully acknowledged) helped to grow the proficiency of technical awareness and recruit new amateur operators into the hobby. Without these numerous "Elmers'" tireless service, there would have been no Club, and no hobby to bring forth into the new century.

Emergency communications service, the foundation of Amateur Radio was first noted in CMARA records when the great Worcester tornado hit Worcester on June 9, 1953 at 5 pm. Subsequent events included CMARA support for The Blizzard of 1978, Hurricane Gloria, 1984, The Blizzard of 1991, Hurricane Bob in 1991, and the Blizzards of 1992 and 1997. 1983 brought the organization of the Central Mass Radio Emergency Service, the brainchild of Gerry Finkle, WB1GSO. To this day, CMARA is active in ARES emergency drills on a regular basis. CMARA also became an active supporter in the National Weather Service Skywarn program, headquartered in Taunton, MA. The W1BIM Repeater has been an integral part of the Skywarn reporting network.

From 1981 to 1998, CMARA members supported Scout Explorer Post 73. Gerry Finkle, WB1GSO and Bob Heck, W1JLA, conducted a Jamboree on the Air at Treasure Valley in Rutland, which led to quite a number of new hams being birthed from the Scouting movement.

Since 1974, many Nets sponsored by CMARA have come and gone, starting with a Novice Class CW Net on 21.175 mhz. Gerry Finkle, WB1GSO, Bob Heck, W1JLA, and Bob Beausoleil, KA1OTQ, were instrumental members in the early days of net operation. In 1984, the "Ol' Joe's Net" was formed by Williiam Margrum, W1AQM. In 1995, this net's name was changed to "The Ol' Timer's Net", when it was taken over by George Lea, K1WZA. Now known as "George's Old Timer's Net", it may now be heard every night on CMARA's repeater W1BIM.


Although 2 meter operation in the 1950-1970 time period was mostly on AM and CW modes (and SSB, in the 1980's) an upswell in the introduction of surplus GE commercial FM equipment began to spread across the Country. New markets in new Amateur equipment offerings from companies such as Inoue in Japan (later named ICOM), Standard Communications, Clegg Laboratories, Pierce Simpson, Regency, Yaesu, and Trio (later named Kenwood) began to popularize VHF FM as the "new way to go."

One day in a meeting in John Terrell's, W1DRP, Holden garage, he and Bob Heck, W1JLA, decided to introduce 2 meter FM to CMARA. By the next year, a repeater was built at W1SPG's QTH. Bob Heck, W1JLA, Ron Buckley, K1QQB, Larry Jaffe, WA1FIH, and Franny Moy, W1SPG were heavily involved in the Project. This repeater was finished and was tested in 1970, Records show that it was 39 in and 34 out... perhaps a little out of convention, but the Club was not interested in taking the machine over. This first repeater became silent. As with most unstoppable ideas, this false start was not in vain as we will see in a minute.

In August, 1971, Charlie Butkus, WA1KRJ got a repeater on the air with 50 watts output. By mid November (the 10th to be exact), Charlie had convinced Franny Moy, W1SPG, that getting this on the air officially was the way to go. The receiver was at Charlie's QTH in North Grafton, and the transmitter was located in North Worcester at Frannie's location. The 3/4 meter link centered on 445.1 mhz. provided the necessary link communications. A week later, the men bought an OMNI-4 antenna by Prodelin setting them back, as records show, $143.00. By February of 1972, their coverage increased with the purchase and installation of more Prodeline gain antennas, Now running a solid 35 watts output on 2 meter FM, and with the addition of 52.525 mhz, at 10 watts out, things were working quite well.

On February 19,1972, the primary receiver preamplifier blew during a 15" snowstorm. WA1KRJ was able to quickly restore service by replacement. On August 26th of that year, the repeater was combined and moved to Pete Peterson's QTH (K1HIS) on Anderson Avenue in Holden. The arrival of an early Winter ice storm on December 4, 1972 knocked the machine off the air due to ice buildup. For the next 11 years, this repeater was operated by Charlie, WA1KRJ and Robert Condon, K1WUK. On May 17, 1973, it was relocated to K1WUK's QTH at North Main Street in Shrewsbury, where it remained in operation for about 9 months.

The transmitter was relocated, on February 28, 1974 to Asnebumskit Hill in Paxton, The output power was also reduced at that time. The repeater remained configured with split QTH's for another 12 years. In 1982, the callsign was changed from WA1KRJ/r to W1BIM/r, Jim Carpenter's original callsign. On January 12, 1984, a CMARA Board of Trustees was formed and first met at W1UD, Bill Voedich's QTH. A month into the formation of official Trusteeship, it was decided that the aging machine was definitely in need of a “major facelift.”

In November, 1984 the Trustees purchased an LR-1 Micro Specialists basic repeater from Kendecom, Inc over in Groveland, MA. Gene Gregoire, WB1DZK provided a loaner machine until the new LR-1 was ready. The cutover from the borrowed repeater took about 4 weeks time, and on April 5, 1985, the new CMARA facelift was well underway. Duplexer cavity drift was an immediate issue causing interference with the repeater at Billerica, MA. Gerry, WB1GSO stepped forth and convinced the Trustees and Club to spring for a new cavity costing $600.00. Later that year, Gerry also pushed for an extension of the timeout to 90 seconds, for by now, members were getting used to repeater etiquette

1987 brought about the purchase of a 440 mhz, link and antennas for $600.00 and a new PD-220 Super Stationmaster Antenna with hardline feed, which went into service in January, 1988 moving 31 watts of 2 meter RF. Later in 1988, Santa Claus was heard on the Paxton Machine, under the guise of Izzy Meltzer, K1ACP! Debates were held during the next several years regarding the pros and cons of 911 service, which was rejected many times.

A milestone occurred later during 1996, when a new converted repeater was purchased, moving the repeater's configuration over towards its existing status today (2016). It was decided to place antennas over to the Shulan Tower, also located on Asnebumskit Hill in Paxton. Kurt Jackson, then KA1JVC, (now W1OBQ), Site Manager for Shulan, placed the receive antenna at 250 feet up, and the transmitting antenna a bit lower, at 150 feet. Results were profound! The combined elevation of Asnebumskit Hill, combined with Kurt's relocation offer resulted in outstanding area coverage. The Trustees decided to purchase a Motorola Micor Repeater system along with new cavities and a 4 voice messaging controller, which was installed in 1997. The PL tone was moved from 100.0 to the current 114.8 hz frequency during 1998. Additionally, in 1998 the "/R" cw id was dropped. The melodious voice id used now is provided by Gwen Ackley, N1XYZ, Marty's, W1EPH's daughter. Marty, W1EPH did all the work to put the Repeater's NHRC-2 controller in place.

Since then, the repeater has been maintained by the 4 CMARA trustees, Marty, W1EPH, Eric, N1VX, Bob, K1SF, and Greg WA1JXR. Bob. K1SF moved out to Western MA, and was voted in to be replaced by Mike, W1BNC. Tower climbing on Asnebumskit Hill and antenna maintenance has been done by Kurt Jackson, W1OBQ and his crew Eric, KS1N and "the other Eric", KA1SUN, over the years.

As of the year 2000, the repeater operates from 2 antennas, the transmit at 100 feet up on the inside of the tower, and the receive antenna WAY up on top at 250 feet, at about 1601 feet ASL! Asnebumskit Hill elevation alone crests at 1,381 feet above sea level. These milestone changes remain mostly in effect to this day, and are a main reason why the W1BIM Repeater provides such stellar performance.

Here are listed some of the Design Parameters:

  • Controller: NHRC-2
  • Features: Voice ID, CW ID, duplex or simplex operation
  • Repeater: Motorola Micor
  • In Frequency on 146.370 mhz.
  • Out Frequency on 146.970 mhz,
  • P.L. Tone: 114.8 hz.
  • Power 100 watts or less (typically 30 watts or so)

Without the following CMARA Club Donors, whose individual monetary contributions helped to establish and grow the hardware we use on W1BIM today, none of this recorded above would have transpired. A special thanks goes to donors: WA1JXR, WB8NTA, K1CTU, WB1GSO, W1JWM, W1JLC, N1VR, NE1O, WA1RCQ, W1JKQ, W1SPG, N1LST, W1QFD, KB1EDD, WR1T, N1NMK, Mary Dehais, N1JET, WA1IDK, KA1DGU, KB1COP, W1MMM. KA1RPR, N1SKM, KB1EVV, N1ZQM, Virginia Russell, KC1WA, KB1FQG, W1BGL, KB1GNR, and N9SC.

Thanks from the bottom of our hearts for establishing a World Class repeater system, which serves Central Massachusetts and then some!

And thanks especially to the Old Timers who provided verbal history: 'Cisco Herrera, W1JLC, Bob Heck, W1JLA, Gerry Finkle, WB1GSO, and Pete Peterson, K1HIS for reminding us in areas where we either forgot or messed-up! Tom Carrigan, NE1R, began this historical assignment, and was instrumental in getting us started. Thanks also go out to radio historian and broadcaster Art, W1AWX, who tailended into W1BIM during the final editing of this document, and provided valuable detail on how early CMARA / Worcester Radio Amateurs may have participated during the 1930 VHF Relays from Hartford, CT to Wachusett Mountain to Boston, MA.

Respectfully submitted, Sandy Lancraft, N1FSK, (ex. WN1FSK, WA1FSK, KC1AOV)

Posted: 09.17.2016:ldg