My brother, Peter, works with an Explorer Post in Wisconsin in the capacity of adult leader. The group specializes in EMT aervices and encourages young adults to study in that field. Pete met his wife as a member of the organization so it holds special meaning to the both of them. Each year, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of southern Wisconsin decend upon Devils Lake; a beautiful state park just south of Baraboo, WI. Explorer Post 63 provides the EMT services; however, the terrain is rough and commincations can be difficult. In the mid-1970's, I was a member of Explorer Post 373, lead byArt McGlothlin, WA9AWJ. Explorer Post 373 no longer exists, but it was an amateur radio group that held the club call W9CUS. Back then, the group, including Annette Miller, Dave Miller, Don Busca, Greg WB9QQJ, myself (then WB9QQI), and several others under the direction of Art, also provided communications for the same scout outing at Devils Lake. Back then, 2M FM was just coming into it's heyday. I had a used Genave 2M transceiver, Art lent us his Drake TR-22, and a few others also had 2M FM rigs. The radios, combined with a lot of leg work, allowed us to provide similar communications back then. Art still maintains the club callsign, now under the name of Miller Valley Radio Club, but the communications now falls to Post 63. In the 1980's, they utilized CB radios with limited success. Pete asked me for guidence on how to improve their communications ability. For a few years, I provided them with a GMRS base station and repeater, utilizing a Motorola Radius R-100 repeater. They also borrowed a small number of Motorola Expo, P-10, and P-50 radios that I had crystaled up for a GMRS (UHF) pair. Each operator had to obtain a GMRS license, which proved difficult to maintain, but the system worked much better than the CB radios previously used. After a few years of using GMRS for communications, I obtained a commercial UHF license and set up a repeater in my 4x8 communcations trailer. The antenna was put up using the 25 foot crank-up mast built into the trailer body. I had a cache of 12 GP300 radios that were used by the nomadic operators as well as those maintaining various posts along the hiking paths. Finally, about 5 years ago, I was offered the oopportunity to utilize one of the pair of Motorola Labs data collection trucks. These modified news gathering trucks house a 7kW generator, plenty of room and rack space, and a 40 foot pneumatic mast. I installed a 25 watt Motorola Quantar repeater complete with battery backup in the truck. I had also acquired a few more GP300 radios; enough to now outfit 15 operators. With the additional antenna height, good radios, and an 8.5dBi gain antenna at 40 feet AGL, the communcations were now near flawless. For the first time last year, I configured the system for dual analog and digital Astro P-25 voice. Not only can the group commnicate on site; they also have the ability to continue communications, using HTs, in Baraboo and other near-by locals. I have posted a few pictures of the groups from 2008 as well as 2007. I hope to locate photos from earlier years to add to this page. I plan to be participating with this group for this annual event for many years to come.
As an aside, if anyone has more information about members of Post 373 from the mid-1970's please contact me; I'd sure like to get back in contact with some of the old group. I am also looking for a more complete list of members from back then. I will soon post a handful of Field Day photos from 1976 taken during my first FD outing with the group. Also, if anyone has GP300 radios they are no longer using and would be willing to sell, please drop me an email. I'd like to add a few spares to the tool kit.
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