147.435 repeater (Southern California)
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(Underground Radio (UGR) redirects here)
This article has two subjects; the 147.435 repeater and Underground Radio. This is due to the way these subjects are interrelated.
The '435 repeater' is an amateur radio repeater located at Mt. Lukens as of February 2011. It was formerly on Santiago Peak during 2010 and prior to that it was located at Contractors Point.
Many users of the 435 repeater have a well known reputation for operating practices which are considered by fellow amateurs to be questionable or illegal.
Courtesy of Bill WA6ITF:
The rules violations began back in 1978 on the .435 repeater (when it was still reversed channel from today) with the formation of the now long defunct ham radio political movement known as "Underground Radio." The stated purpose of "UGR" as it called itself was: "...to free repeater users from the totalitarian rules imposed by repeater owner operators using any means at its disposal..."
Since there were few rules on the .435 repeater nobody ever figured out why it began there -- but it did. And from a small central core of a dozen or so whose calls are long forgotten -- there began an all-out war against every 2 meter repeater within the LA - San Diego RF corridor that lasted close to 4 years.
UGR formed "attack squads" that would show up on repeaters, jam out QSO's with high power mobile or remote base radios and leave as suddenly as they appeared.
One repeater -- the old K6MYK machine owned by the late Art Gentry (W6MEP) -- the person generally credited with inventing the first practical ham radio repeater -- converted his machine from a repeater to a 24 / 7 code practice channel. Others fought back in kind by invading .435 and jamming the stations who had jammed their repeaters.
By '82 many of us had simply abandoned 2 meter FM -- going to 222 or 440. 222 was of little interest to UGR and they seemed to be scared to try to tangle with those on 440. In that day and age a ham did not dare to show up on a 440 repeater without a specific invitation to use the band as issued by its then inhabitants. In fact, the local retailers were quite reticent to sell the average ham a 70cm radio for fear of reprisal from the 440 community. Actually, its a lot more complex than that -- but it would take pages to go into full detail.
So UGR stayed on 2 meters and harassed any group it pleased. But one day they made the mistake of taking on the '76'ers -- the group that had for decades kept repeaters off of 146.76 MHz simplex-only and considered it their own private channel. When the UGR folks showed up on .76 they were literally met with what one could equate as an organized military response. UGR never again showed up on 146.76 -- likely in fear of their personal safety. (.76 was a closed community detailed in "The Chronicles of .76" as authored by the late Kendal Webster Sessions, K6MVH. It had its own society, its own rules and even its own police force known as the Seven Six Secret Service or SSSS.)
But the real downfall of the UGR movement was when it went up against the DX Club repeater. A group of very wealthy doctors, lawyers, bankers, film industry executives and the like who had the "connections" to force the issue. It also had a hard-bitten attorney, the late Joseph Merdler, N6AHU, who had personal contacts at the level of the U.S. Congress. Within weeks of UGR's assault on the DX Club repeater, Merdler made a trip to Washington to meet with Rep, Jim Corman. Within a month of that meeting the local LA FCC office had begun targeting hams breaking the rules -- especially those identified as members of UGR. I still recall being at the ARRL SW Division Banquet in 1980 when the then ARRL Division Director introduced two Federal agents who in turn announced the arrest earlier that day of one of the most blatant violators. By late 1982 UGR was gone but the toll it took on 2 meter FM operation likely will never be accurately assessed.
But the remnants of UGR hung around on .435 but as long as they stayed there nobody cared. Just as long as they stayed off everyone else's repeater -- all was well in the world. Those there now -- whomever they are -- are there because they cannot operate elsewhere in the unorthodox style -- the dame as their predecessors. To out of town'ers who hear it on the Internet and to newcomers who hear it for the first time -- live -- it tends to be upsetting. But once people understand the "unofficial truce" that exists, it just becomes a way of life.