Brightleaf Amateur Radio Club (BARC) was recently approached by Voice Of America (VOA) to host one of three special event stations for the 80th anniversary of the first transmission from VOA. In preparing for this event, we discovered that the big rhombic antenna feed lines had been disrupted from all antennas. Repairs were in order. Thinking on how to repair them awoke a personal dream I had nurtured since moving here and becoming a Ham. A big dream, one that would go on to hopefully make a difference in the world. One that is shared by VOA. How about really repairing the antennas and feed lines the right way rather than just having temporary lines to the antennas that eventually fall apart. How about setting up a class act of a radio room that can not only be used for special events but also as an emergency back up communication hub for disasters anywhere in the world? How about remote control station that can be monitored for cries for help whenever or wherever they occur? How about teaching new students the art of radio? To this end a plan is being hatched to accomplish these lofty goals. No one knows if this can be done but it will not happen unless we dream BIG and act on that dream. So here we go…
11/12/21: We met representatives from ECU & VOA at site “C” to inspect the antennas and the radio room that we have used in the past 20 years for special events. This is the site that communicated all the way to the dormant volcano in Hawaii where in 2000 the RIMPAC humanitarian exercise was being held by the armed forces. A contingent of BARC members went out there and set up an amateur radio station and had it on the air in 24 hours. The next service to get on the air was rumored to be the Navy about 3 days later. The Brightleaf ARC members managed to communicate to site C and relayed messages to the hospital and the physicians there to provide telemedicine service. This was great event providing evidence that amateur radio is most needed when the conditions turn bad and as a fall back mode of communication. This was shown again when hurricane Floyd hit eastern NC in 1999 and Governor Hunt stated that a lot of people would be dead had it not been for the services that amateur radio provided.
It seems only prudent that this decommissioned station should get a new chance at life again by turning the remaining large antennas to amateur radio use and to provide a vital link to areas in the world that are hard hit by disasters. These antennas can reach anywhere in the world. It would be such a waste of an incredible resource if this were not to happen. To that end, planning to repair the antennas and feed lines would be undertaken by volunteers from VOA and amateurs. Further talks with ECU to establish an understanding and access to the radio room and antennas will be discussed. The possibility of restarting an ECU Amateur Radio Club came up and could be done with BARC being the parent club. Funding is being sought by grant applications. It should also be considered as a very small infrastructure project for Homeland Security.
This is not a small project and it will take “all hands on deck” to accomplish it and run it. A more worthwhile project I cannot think of right here in our own backyard for the members of the Brightleaf Amateur Radio Club to commit to. So let’s get started!
To Do List:
- Estimates of cost of repairs and in what order – – – in process
- Funding for the repairs are being submitted, possible GoFundMe – – – in process
- Overall Plan development being formulated – – – in process
- Feed line repair of at least 3 out of the 4 large rhombic antennas – – – To start
- Tie the central distribution point of the feed lines into the building – – – To start
- Renovation of the radio room and clean up – – – To start
- Purchase and install of radios and computers – – – To start
- Establish ECU Radio Club – – – To start
- Look into repairing the rotatable log periodic antennas – – – To start
- Add remote control functions – – – To Start
Keep checking this blog for updates on this project. If you think you can help, send a message.
A GoFundMe page will be coming up shortly…
If you would like to donate to this project, press button below to use PayPal and help us get this done,
Thank you and DREAM ON! from the President of BARC, N4PVH.