|What do you mean by "that's a bit ambitious?".
No, of course it isn't the new quarter wave for the GB3OK repeater,
but what better place to start on the subject of radio history in
the south east? The BBC's television transmitter mast at Crystal Palace
has always laid claim to being among the most adventurous and successful
of post war engineering feats. At 710 feet high and standing on the
site of the sadly fated Crystal Palace, the mast can been seen for
many miles in every direction.
The mast once hosted the Amateur Radio Repeater of GB3LO, which
later became GB3SL. With the transmitting aerial located on the
second leg up, as high from the ground as Nelson on his Column,
it had a great coverage. Sadly, I feel, we lost a big chunk of the
south east's radio history when GB3SL ceased transmitting and closed
down completely a couple of years ago.
This left me thinking what a big hole had been left in the 2mtr
repeater coverage in Kent and the south east. I had heard a few
rumors where various people had talked about coming up with a replacement,
but nothing ever seemed to mature from those rumors.
It must have been around September 2003 when the nucleus of the
idea first sparked into my mind and I set about a feasibility study,
which led to a few months of of intense research. This in turn led
us to where we are now. The first step was to find the equipment.
I was fortunate enough to locate and purchase two Philips FX-5000
base station repeaters, four cavity filters, two battery backup
supplies and the power supply unit. The two FX-5000 repeaters are
24 volt, 19 inch rack mounted units, with 100% duty cycle and were
originally configured to operate around 148MHz. All of this equipment
is of the highest commercial quality and in mint condition.
However, as this equipment became another piece of furniture in
our hallway, I had already tested the water at a number of locations
in my search for a site, including my own home. I managed to secure
us the site we have now, which is itself steeped in amateur radio
history. Located at Well Hill, Chelsfield in Kent, it's the site
that once hosted GB3NK on 433.100MHz until it's re-location to Wrotham
in 1976, and more recently, GB3NWK which operated two microwave
beacons on 1296.81MHz and 2320.85MHz. At 600 feet ASL this has to
be considered a prime site.
However, before any of this had even taken place the search for
a callsign had been underway so that the application for a licence
could get started. GB3OK, standing for Orpington, Kent, was the
brainchild of my wife Jeanette, G1UPT. It's turned out to be a fortunate
suggestion and one that has already attracted a catchphrase since
Arthur, G0MLV was heard to say "is everything GB-OK" over
the radio. Since then I've had many people ask me if everything
is "GB-OK" with the new repeater.
Talking of licenses, and if I may be allowed a little poetic licence
of my own (Please forgive me Sir Winston Churchill):
"This isn't the end. It's not even the beginning of the end.
But it's the end of the beginning".
Welcome to the Genesis of the Bromley Repeater Group and GB3OK.
Tony, G1HIG..... (Founder Member)