The Bedford County Amateur Radio Society (BCARS) has plans to modernize its communications site on Martin Hill this year in an effort to have radio coverage across the county.
Lloyd Bankson Roach, public information officer for BCARS, said the club already replaced three repeaters and associated antennas at the county’s Kinton Knob transmitter site, and expects to do additional work at its Martin Hill site in the southern portion of the county near the Maryland state line.
“It’s very rudimentary and obsolete,” Roach said about the southern site. “We’re going to build a facility just like the one at Kinton Knob.”
The work completed on BCARS’s equipment at the county’s 911 tower on Kinton Knob in 2020 was funded through a grant from the Bedford County Endowments and donations from community organizations.
The modernization was done by the club’s repeater committee with its antenna installation provided by Jerry Cox, president of Multicomm Inc. of Holidaysburg.
Roach said the repeaters at the towers are used to increase the distance radio signals can be transmitted.
The tower on Martin Hill will be upgraded by the end of the upcoming summer. Roach said the work will include the addition of a new antenna system and installation of a “low band” 52 MHz repeater to join the 146 MHz repeater operating there.
In addition to upgrading the repeaters, BCARS is partnering with Crowsnest Broadband LLC of Woodbury to connect control circuits and audio between the two towers via broadband.
“This will result in a major improvement of our system,” John Hogenmiller, the club’s technical director, said.
Roach said the connection would unify radio communications across the county.
“If Crowsnest comes through, we can have someone in Saxton talk to a guy in Hyndman,” he said. “It will be a dramatic increase in what we can do. This is something we’ve been wanting to do for years.”
The project joins Crowsnest’s recent work through Bedford County’s broadband expansion project that was funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. County officials have said that project is the first phase of its efforts to expand high speed internet access to underserved parts of the county.
BCARS provides tactical and disaster communications to local nonprofits and other agencies, such as the Bloody Run Canoe Classic, Shawnee State Park and the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce’s annual “Bike Bedford County” event, as well as for county, state and federal agencies.