History of the BARK Repeater
The following was written by Jim Dawson, K6HVM in 1989. Jim was a BARK director for many years and he was serving one of his two terms as BARK president when this was written. Jim died in late 1994 and was buried with his BARK name tag on his chest and his 2m HT in his hand.
"I was asked to write a brief letter to the members for the newsletter. I elected to write about a little history of the club and repeater starting back with the early days. The club was activated in 1969 by Dave Oliver (WB6VKH, our current trustee), and Boyd Brandt. BARK was a splinter group from a Bay Area repeater group. The Bureau of Land Management was contacted about space on Berryessa Peak for a repeater site. All the necessary paperwork was completed and the request was approved. WR6ABX, which was the repeater call at that time, was born and BARK was formed. The first annual meeting was June 16, 1972. Present was Daniel Crowe, attorney for the club, to advise on legal matters. The club by-laws were drawn up at this time. The first board members were Harry Fredricks (WB6YCL), C.D. Williams and Boyd Brandt. Harry is the only original director still active in the club. The by-laws were later amended to permit seven directors. WR6ABX was the first repeater to be issued a 37-97 frequency pair in the state of California. There were no repeaters above 22-82. So, in November 1972, WR6ABX repeater became a reality.
The equipment was G.E. Progress Line, which gave fairly good results. The coverage in the early days was about ten miles south of Willows on I-5 to around Galt south of Sacramento. The coverage to the east was about to the foothills. The repeater was lovingly nicknamed "Charlie" in the early days. It did a lot of burping, moaning and groaning, which was referred to as Charlie having a bellyache. At about this time, a UHF repeater was installed at the site with the call of WA6ZTU, which was later changed to WR6ABX. Dave Oliver (WB6VKH) took over as trustee in 1977 and is the current trustee. The FCC quit issuing repeater calls in 1983, so WR6ABX was regrettably laid to rest and the call letters were changed to WB6VKH.
We have had many problems through the years and it hasn't been easy going at times. In the early 1980's, a repeater 15 kHz away from us was set up in Pioneer which is east of Stockton. This joker was running RTTY practically 24 hours a day. Needless to say, this completely wiped out 37-97. This went on for about seven or eight months. The operator absolutely refused to cooperate. We embarked on a letter writing campaign and many telephone calls to the FCC and anyone else who would listen. The hard work finally paid off when the FCC ordered him to change frequency. It was a great day for us, but it had devastated the club. Our membership had dropped to nothing and of course our revenue went with it. A little at a time, we started to bounce back. A few months later a repeater was set up in Sacramento 15 kHz away on a reverse split. This repeater output was getting into our input. To keep the story short, we went through the letter writing and phone call routine again. The FCC ordered him to move.
Things went well for us until a fatal day in December 1987. Berryessa Peak was hit by rain, snow and gale force winds for several days. Everything went, our antenna tower, feed lines, equipment, and part of the building. It was total devastation. So we went to work. We acquired a new 60 foot tower and this was installed in a 6 foot hole filled with concrete mixed at the site. All new antennas were build by Dave and side mounted on the new tower. Through donations and a lot of hard work, things started shaping up. A 220 MHz repeater was also installed at the site about this time. You have done a great job Dave (WB6VKH) and I for one am forever grateful." 73's and BCNU, Jim Dawson, K6HVM
In late summer 2005, Ed Gallup, K7AAT (formerly WB6SAT) he stumbled across the BARK website and enjoyed perusing the information. He sent the following commentry on the history above written by Jim Dawson (SK). Ed said that Jim did a very good job, but the following information could be added.
"Apparently the early members have forgotten about me, but I was one of the three founders of your Club. The initial efforts were taken in 1971, not 1969, and Boyd Brandt, WA6RYO, was the primary force behind this push to get a repeater on the hill and start a club.
I had recently been discharged from the Air Force and spent deer season hunting on a family friend's ranch which bordered the lookout site. I was interested in putting a repeater up there and began making inquiries into this. I received word of another ham also having this same interest (Boyd). We hooked up and pursued these plans together. I recall spending some time with the Yolo County Communications Director Henry Crutcher trying to get permission to use the unused radio building they had on Berryessa Peak. The county couldn't allow us to use their old vault unless we were an `organization' or some such thing. I believe that was the key that got the seeds of BARK going. With further prodding from Boyd Brandt, we met with success. We also hooked up with Dave Oliver around this time and I believe Dave was helpful, if not instrumental, in getting Bureau of Land Management access to the site. I recall the three of us prepping and cleaning the old completely empty Yolo County radio building, and painting the walls, inside and out.
Also, one little piece of `club politics' history. Boyd had badly wanted to get his nice GE Progress line repeater equipment up on the hill and he become Trustee of the new BARK that was formed. I believe we had contacted some of the locals to get this club started. Harry Fredericks, WB6YCL, was the only one I remember contacting about getting things going, though there were others. Seems to me that we started with a pretty sizable group, considering how quickly it began. I was involved with the technical side of things, helping Boyd with repeater and vault maintenance and didn't really become active in club politics other than attending membership meetings. I recall Dave Oliver as becoming very active in the club, though.
It was only a year or two after the club formed that the membership apparently began making decisions that did not fly with the trustee, Boyd. One day he just went up to the site and pulled out all his equipment. The club quickly purchased a new 2M repeater and I don't believe we were off the air very long at all.".
In the June of 2018 the County Fire ravaged 90,000+ acres of Yolo and Napa Counties. A fire storm rolled up to Berryessa Peak taking out our antennas and feed lines. Our tower and solar panels were undamaged as was the contents of the vault. Ken Wilson K6WLS led the rebuilding. Generous donations from the radio amateur community covered the cost. The feed lines now all are hard line with lightning protection at the vault perimeter.
In early 2021 we replaced our Maggiore repeater with a BridgeCom BCR-50V. The old repeater is now the pedestal supporting the BridgeCom box. It serves as our backup; move four connections and it would be live. To complete the rebuild, we replaced the 40 year-old receive filters with Telewave notch and pass filters. The 40 year-old Phelps Dodge transmit filters remain, rock solid. PowerGate modules control the battery charging and brown-out recovery.
If you have information or a story about the BARK repeater, please email it to Bill - K6KN at email@example.com