Over the course of many years, several club members have documented the history of the Keystone VHF Club. Shown below are some of the highlights of these early years. We would especially like to thank Ray Shaub, W3AXC(SK) and Bob Riese, K3DJC(SK) for keeping our history alive. Ray was one of the original Charter Members has been active in the club since 1958. If not for these members, this historical information might have been lost.
It was the summer of 1955. This was the era of the Gonset Communicator and the government surplus VHF rigs. All were either CW or AM modulation. The VHF bands, especially the 6 & 2 meter bands were becoming active because there was surplus WW2 era equipment available that was relatively inexpensive. There were a few hams that belonged to the York Amateur radio Club (YARC) who were interested in the VHF bands rather than HF. YARC was basically an HF club. Sometime during the fall of that year, the word was passed around that there was a new club being formed dedicated to operations in the VHF & UHF bands. So on an evening in November 1955 (the exact date is lost to history), we met at the home of Art Hafer, W3OCI to see how many were interested in forming a new VHF club. In the early part of 1956 we began meeting at the WSBA TV and FM studios and the club was given the name “The Keystone VHF Club”. The Club applied for and received a club license in August or September that year with the call W3HZU.
In 1958 the approximately 26 members began to actively look for a location that would make a good club site. One of our members knew the Condors family who ran a lumber mill and owned all of the ridge from our current club site to the river. A price was agreed on and the land purchased from the Condors for $500. We needed a tower and found a wind charger tower at Perkins Battery Company in West York. This was a traditional farmers windmill tower and was completely disassembled at Perkins and then reassembled at the new club site. The next thing we needed was an operating shack. A Civil Defense WW2 Aircraft Spotters Shack located on the property of Edgar Faus Smith High School was obtained and moved to the club. Later that year, we found the Cinder Blocks we built our current club house from. They came from an oil storage tank support foundation along Richland Ave. We had to tear them down but the blocks were free. It took a little less than 2 years to clean the blocks & start construction of the clubhouse. The club house was finished in 1960.
- The clubhouse is in a continual state of improvement.
- The property is monitored 24/7 by a complex video system to insure security is maintained over our investments.
- A heat pump system keeps the operating room and repeater room at comfortable temperatures throughout the year.
- Devices in the clubhouse can be controlled remotely by internet access.
- A RFID card based access system is in place to control entrance to the facility. Access is granted based on assessment of technical prowess and responsibility.
- Weekly meetings of the Technical Committee occur each Thursday from about 4pm till everyone leaves. This is a good time to get involved with the club, increase personal knowledge, and obtain time with an elmer.
- The FlexRadio HF and ICOM VHF/UHF EME stations have GPS discipled oscillator reference for high accuracy tuning.
- The satellite tracking system on the VHF/UHF Kenwood station provides easy use of amateur satellites.
- The FlexRadio / 6m station boasts a full KW of power from the 60 foot tower.
- The club now has a fully operational APRS digipeater which expands the coverage of this service greatly in the York area.
- The biggest project that is most noteworthy is our EME dish project. Steve K3WHC has purchased and donated a 14 foot communications dish to the club for use in a Moon bounce station. This station operates on a frequency of 1296 MHz, through an ICOM IC-9700 and some transverters. The EME dish has made some contacts, but requires more work and documentation to be operated properly and be competitively operated.
- One of the most important projects is our Volunteer Examiner Public Education program. A team of Keystone VHF club members lead VE sessions every other month. Lead by K3HQI, this program also provides weekend classes for interested persons to obtain their Amateur Radio license. Amateur Radio will continue to thrive because of the efforts to bring people into the greatest hobby.
The Keystone VHF Club was founded on a sense of fellowship and inclusion. In the beginning meetings were held in member’s homes, there were sometimes multiple activities scheduled throughout the week. Transmitter Fox Hunts and Fix-In events were common in the early days. In the days when off-the-shelf equipment was simply not available, members worked together to fulfill the group’s desire to achieve more than one person can accomplish alone.
Today with weekly Tech Committee meetings, we work, eat and have fellowship much in the same way. On work party days, there’s usually an opportunity for donuts and coffee, or to fire up the lunch grill after a hard morning’s workout. The club has an annual Corn Roast picnic in the summer, an Ice Cream Social, and a Holiday Party in January. Both of which are subsidized by the club for the enjoyment and benefit of members. During contest events members bring food to share. When a new member needs help with an antenna erection, members work together to accomplish the task. When a family needs help with a Silent Key Estate sale, members come together to help ease the task of dismantling stations and selling equipment. You will never find a more selfless bunch of quiet heroes than those of the Radio Amateur community.