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History of Amateur Radio in Door County, WI

The first official radio club in Door County was established on January 19th, 1923 at the Sturgeon Bay High School by a group of 19 student. The club was a group of young people of whom some were interested in building radios, and some who were interested in communicating by radio.  In that day and age, everybody was an "amateur" in radio.

The club officers were: President - George Gabert, W9JM (SK), VP - Philip Gordon, Treasurer - Edward Green, and Secretary - Arthur Miller.

The first club radio was purchased on November 23rd, 1923 and presented to the High School on November 30th, 1923. Club members raised funds by holding a cafeteria benefit, ran a hot dog stand at the Sturgeon Bay vs Algoma Football game, and through donations. The radio was purchased from Henry Hocks, a local dealer.

From 1923 until after World War II only a few companies were building radio equipment. During this period most radios were home brewed. After World War II manufactures such as National Radio, Inc., Hallicrafters, Collins, E.F. Johnson and others began to build and sell transmitters and receivers to ham radio operators world wide.

Door County Amateur Radio Club was formed by local amateur radio operators, including some of the original high school club member on January 7th, 1953. With over 60+ years in amateur radio, our club supports the Amateur Radio Service goal of providing quality public service, typically in the form of communications support to other public services and charitable organizations.

We are not for profit, however we do not maintain a non-profit organization status. All of our equipment is either paid out of pocket by individual operators, private donations, grants or club funding. As an organization we also incur other costs. Any donations would be greatly appreciated by our members and Door County ARES / RACES.


The Door County Magazine (Winter 2010-11) included an article "Old Frequency", which talks about Amateur Radio, including operators in Door County. Click http://w9aiq.com/docs/old_freq_2010.pdf to view the article.

A brief history of Door County's VHF FM Repeaters

In the late 1960's/ early 1970's, the second VHF-FM repeater system in the state was installed in Door County on 146.73 Mhz by Lyle/K7OO (formerly K9DKW), with help from Dick/WA9PFQ, Leon/K9AAW, Jim/WA9ARB and others. The original repeater was an old tube type converted Motorola (no longer in service).

Within a few years, other repeaters were installed throughout the state, including one near Milwaukee on the same frequency pair 146.73 Mhz, and when conditions were right (most of the summer due to increased propagation) the repeater received severe interference from the other users near Milwaukee. Rather than set up the repeater for tone access, some club members pushed the idea of simply changing the frequency.   The switch was made, and 147.21 Mhz became the main club repeater frequency.

But within another few short years, another repeater on the same frequency was installed near Milwaukee and the interference returned. To curb the interference a PL tone was added and radio upgraded.

The "old" 146.73 repeater removed from it's origional location and relocated to the county government office building with the antenna placed on the roof tower of the Door County Sheriff's Dept as a short range back up repeater. It was again moved to it's final home on the new Sheriff Department tower near Egg Harbor by Ken/K9KJM, where it remains as a back up repeater to this day.

When Lyle/K7OO moved to Arizona, most repeater maintenance/coordination work was taken care of by Dick Lau/K9LAU (SK) and Bill/N9NAM at the 147.21 site. Dick and a few hams from Sister Bay purchased, installed and took care of the Sister Bay 147.18 Mhz repeater. To add county wide coverage Bill/N9NAM home built a very "smart" controller for the .21 system, which included remote receivers at the county's Brussels Hill and Sister Bay tower sites.

After 2001 to 2006 Ken/K9KJM secured federal grant money to upgrade the 147.21 repeater with new Telewave antennas, Heliax feedline, and back up batteries. Later the old repeater was upgraded to the present Kenwood TKR-750 model. It provides long range coverage thoughout the county and neighboring counties / states. The repeater's call sign was changed in Spring 2013 to W9DOR, to acknowledge the tower access and support we have received over the years from the owners of WDOR AM & FM.

In 2012 the club purchassed and installed a UHF/VHF crosslink at the Door County Sheriff's Department tower in Sturgeon Bay that is a direct link to the club's Sister Bay VHF site.

A Echolink test was conducted by Ken/K9KJM on the 3 main repeaters in Spring 2013. Following the test, a perminate Echolink connection was established to the 147.21 Mhz repeater by Howie/K9HAH.

A little known fact is the club maintains a "hot" stand by repeater on 147.21, but on PL 100.0z instead of the usual 107.2z  This is an old Motorola Micor that was converted by Ken/K9KJM to ham use.  If the main repeater were to fail, a simple tone change can keep communications flowing, but in a limited capacity.

Ken/K9KJM operates a open "local" UHF 444.000 repeater that also has Echolink running.

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