History of Leelanau County's 147.30 Repeater




Coverage Maps


The 147.30 repeater was the second repeater to emerge in the Grand Traverse region.   It originally took to the airwaves in the spring of 1990  from a 56' tower at the residence of KF8KK (then WB2VTN) just west of Maple City in southwest Leelanau County.

In 1991, when KF8KK was contracted to install the transmitter for the new 94.3 MHz FM broadcast station WTRV (Leland, MI) the repeater was moved to a 90' tower atop the ski hill at the Sugar Loaf resort north of the nearby town of Cedar.  From SugarLoaf, the repeater had coverage that extended throughout Lelanau and Grand Traverse counties, including much of Benzie and Antrim counties.  

During the time at the SugarLoaf site, the repeater was cross-linked to the 440.05 repeater in Maple City which provided repeater users with both VHF and HF remote base capability.   Later, these remote bases were moved to the 442.025 repeater south of Cedar and then a six meter repeater on 52.90 was added into the system (split site-- receiver at SugarLoaf and transmitter at the 442.025 site south of Cedar).

In 1993, the FM radio station changed hands and the repeater was removed from the SugarLoaf tower and was temporarily moved to the site south of Cedar where the 442.025 repeater was.

In 1994, the 147.30 repeater was moved to an antenna on the WPBN-TV tower just west of Traverse City (using antennas either at 150' or 350' during its tenure).   During the time when the repeater was at the WPBN site, it was tied together with the co-located 444.85 and 52.90 repeaters, and then linked to the KG8CU 444.925 Harrietta repeater at 800' on the WPBN-TV tower just west of Cadillac, and the 444.975 KF8KK repeater at the 500' level on the WPBN tower in Leetsville (just north of Kalkaska).  Additionally, the repeater was linked to the N7LMJ 444.725 repeater near Glen Arbor, the 442.025 KF8KK repeater south of Cedar (where a VHF and HF remote base functionality was added to the system).    

During this time the N8JKV 146.92 repeater in Lake Leelanau was linked on demand to the 444.725 Glen Arbor repeater which effectively tied that into the system.  

Coverage of the linked system at this time was from Ludington/Clare through near Gaylord and almost to Petoskey.  Operation through  the 147.3 machine could be had from spots as far away as Afton or the Mackinaw bridge.  Plans were to add additional machines at Fingerboard Corners (Onaway area) and Cheboygan and link them in.   

The system was shut down when, due to external repeater related politics, KF8KK decided to take a hiatus from the hobby in late 1995.

When KF8KK flipped the OFF switch in 1995, the coordination's of the various frequencies (and much of the gear) was disseminated amongst friends.  Since KF8KK was moving from the area (and changing jobs), the WPBN sites were not available for continued use. The 147.30 repeater went to John N8VVG near Lake Leelanau, where it operated from there for a couple of years until lightning and jammers wore down Johns will to keep it going.  In 2003 the coordination was transferred to AA8ZV in Kalkaska where the coordination now resides and provides a valuable service to the hams in that region.

The 444.925 Harietta coordination, was moved to South Boardman by KG8CU and is providing a valuable service to the hams in that area.

The 444.975 Leetsville coordination was moved to N8JKV in Lake Leelanau and operated from there for a few years and then was switched off at some point.

The 442.025 Cedar coordination was moved to W8TVC near Long Lake and operated from there for a few years and was switched off at some point.

The 444.725 Glen Arbor- Empire repeater is still on the air, as is the 146.92 N8JKV Lake Leelanau repeater.

The 52.90 Cedar-Traverse City repeater was switched off in late 1995 and turned back into the coordinators.  It has since been revived in 2002 by WB8DEL and is on the air in Mackinaw City.

The 147.30 repeater is presently the AA8ZV repeater in Kalkaska.  'EJ'  (ZV), John (KG8CU), and countless others, are working tirelessly to provide a fine communication service in the area.


The photos shown here are from the time when the 147.30 repeater was located on a tower atop the ski hill at the Sugar Loaf resort north of the village of Cedar, in central Leelanau county.

At the top of the tower to the left are the two FM broadcast antenna sections for the 94.3 MHz transmitter.

Below the broadcast antenna you can see the four exposed dipole elements that comprised the 147.30 repeater antenna.

Below those dipoles is (hard to see) a UHF-440 yagi antenna which was aimed towards the Maple City 440.05 MHz repeater and used for linking purposes with that.

Not seen in the photo is the antenna for the 52.40 receiver.  I don't really remember what was used for that purpose, it quite likely was a magnet mount atop the transmitter 'building'.


This photo shows the small metal 'container' that housed the radio equipment.   It was about 12' deep and 8' wide.  The size was adequate for what was inside.

Thankfully, the grounding was sufficient and during the two years the system operated from this location there was no losses due to lightning damage.  I would be surprised if it hadn't gotten hit at least once.

This is the 94.3 broadcast transmitter and it's associated control and audio processing rack.

What is difficult to see in the photo is the FM broadcast receiver tuned to the FM station in Atlanta MI (92.7?) which sits atop the rack on the left.  This receiver was hooked up to that five element horizontal beam (visible in the photo of the 'building') and was used to provide the audio for the 94.3 transmitter.   We had, effectively, an FM broadcast band repeater.  Input on 92.7(?) and output on 94.3, with split antennas.    

While putting an FM station on the air in this manner isn't the best, it does the job and sounded just fine.   It was just as reliable as any other method, and considerably less expensive for the station ownership than the alternatives.

This is the ham repeater rack.

At the very top of the rack is the receiver that picked up the 440.05 Maple City UHF machine for linking.  

On the shelf below the 440.05 receiver was a Standard Radio transceiver on 145.03? which was a packet node at the time.  To the left of the Standard transceiver was some wire and an emergency beer.

The black box that says 'Hum Notch' contains the 'KF8KK' standard home-built repeater controller for the 147.30 repeater.

The white panel below the controller is where the Packet TNC is mounted.  This unit contained an old GLB-PK1 which had the callsign of the station hard-coded into the prom from the factory.  Because this TNC is still in use, the photo was taken during the time the callsign WB2VTN-1 was used.   That packet setup had spent about four years atop the 43 story 1700 Broadway building on 53rd and Broadway in NYC.  WB2VTN-1 was, for quite some time, the major packet node on 145.01 in Manhattan.  

Below the packet TNC is the RCA-1000 transceiver that was the heart of the 147.30 repeater.  The 1000 is a little newer than the 700 series.

Below the RCA is an Astron RS50 power supply and an Advanced Recevier Research GasFET preamp.

This view shows the back of the repeater controller with it's array of 9 pin D connectors.

You can see the GLB-PK1 packet TNC board.  This TNC did a great job for many years.  It was sad to put it out of its misery.  When I decided to turn in my '2' land call for '8' land it had to go.  It was replaced by an MFJ TNC2.  Currently, the GLB is in the LOSF and the blank rack panel is still in service somewhere.


You can see the RCA1000 with the mobile cable and head attached.  Later on I changed the way I wired these and stopped using the original mobile accessories, which made for less clutter in the rack.

This shows the 440.05 MHz receiver mounted to the rack panel at the top of the rack.  

The receiver used is from an old HHT series Motorola Motrac.   While the M series receivers are much preferred, I happened to have this old H on hand and it worked fine.  this receiver is still in use on one of the other repeaters.  Another old rig that refuses to die.

This view shows the 52.40 RCA 700 base receiver for the six meter repeater.

This view is before I spent the time to unhook the receiver from it's mating 'control box' shown as the gold unit below the receiver.

This receiver, while originally found in the trash of a local radio shop by N8LRU in '91, and in use up until May of 2004 as the main 52.42 receiver for the Glen Arbor six meter repeater.  It still works fine.

As you can see, the 147.30 used a four cavity Wacom duplexer. 

These cans have been with me from 1980 and the WA2WAI repeater on 145.19 in Rockville Centre NY.  They have been all over the band during their life as finding a repeater pair in suburban NYC wasn't something easily done.

Presently they are in Flagstaff Arizona on the KD7IC 145.27 repeater.    A good two meter duplexer isn't something that should be left lying about unused. Jon, IC, is happy to keep the spider webs from consuming them.

This view is from the front door of the transmitter building and shows the relationship of the broadcast racks to the ham rack.

Atop the ham rack is an FM stereo which I used to monitor the 94.3 station when I was up there.

Of note, during the history of the site, the packet station was upgraded to a ROSE node and had an additional 440Mhz port added in.   The plan was to have a 440 link to the packet gurus in Petoskey.  Sadly, that never materialized and the dual-band node (while working fine) was nothing more than a curiosity.

This is a scenic fall view towards Traverse City from atop the ski hill at SugarLoaf.

If anything, the repeater site was a nice place to have your lunch.