GB3FM - GB3FN - GB3FX - GB3SN
The nearly totally accurate story of the Farnham VHF Group...
The problem with history is that more of it keeps coming along... The group has been going since about 1980 when a few enthusiasts decided that the Farnham-Aldershot-Farnborough-Camberley-Frimley area needed UHF repeater coverage. Following some serious pub discussions, a late night drive around a few hilltops found the site, at the time unloved and unwanted, and ripe for development (including pumping out several years accumulated water, sludge and other unmentionable substances). A deal was struck to rent it, and the repeater group was born.
Many things change over the years, including the personnel... The then chief rabble rouser G8UVF seems to have faded from the scene (but we'd still like your subs, Terry...) but the original treasurer G8VWH is still with us. That might indicate excessive dedication to the club - but more likely proves we never had enough money for a good life in Rio. The current chairman G4EPX is a relatively new boy, who only joined in 1982...
GB3FN was caught in the UHF Phase 6 licencing delay process, which took about 2 years. The licence finally arrived in February 1983 - so naturally we put the repeater on the air in same evening despite the snow (yes, there really was snow on the ground, and we all had to thaw out in front of a log fire in the pub down the road). Over the years, FN was gradually upgraded to higher power (the original only had about 7W ERP) with better antennas, battery backup (necessary as we used to suffer frequent power cuts, which in turn caused condensation to form and dead equipment), high stability oscillators and so on. Being keen we also built the 23cm box, which went live in 1988, and later the 6m box (live in 1997).
Then 20 or so years went by with nothing much happening. Except... repairs, maintenance, improvements, beacons, a low flying Lancaster (words cannot convey...), tower climbing, tower repairs, replacement of all tower nuts and bolts, slug removal, battery replacement (serious Pb!), flooding and draining, lightning strike, tree growth, lock failure (locked), forest clearance, etc.
And then there was 2020. While there are many who have suffered far more than the Group, it was a dreadful year for us too. The worst vandalism we had ever suffered and a requirement from our landlord to have the tower professionally repainted. Thanks to a very significant amount of work and generous contributions of materials, the malicious damage was repaired and security improved at a fairly modest cost to the Group. Painting the tower was a different matter. Despite our chairman negotiating a very good price, the bill of several thousand pounds took the vast majority of the Group's reserves, accumulated over the last 40 years!
Now more recently in 2022, we have brought GB3SN into the Group as its holding group was getting too small to function without some more volunteers. This of course means a greater demand on funds, with a second site and a second electricity bill to manage.
The group has swelled and contracted over the years as people have come and gone. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of Ursula G0SJI, the membership isn't dwindling too quickly - and sometimes goes up! However the repeaters do cost a significant amount to run each year so we always need and welcome new members or donations from users to keep us going. To see more of the details, please look at this.
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