Southern Pennsylvania AmaTeur Radio Club

K3IR – Radio Enthusiasts in Lancaster County, PA

About Sparc

This is the History of Sparc as told by one of the Original Members of the Ham and Eggers of Columbia Jim Ibaugh. Text transcript of the club is at the end.


Bonus Footage of the night

Short History of SPARC & It’s Genesis <>Columbia Hams & Eggers Breakfast Club

 Columbia Area Amateur Radio Club

 Southern Pennsylvania Amateur Radio Club

  By James L. Ibaugh,  AA3CARRL T.S., V.E. & R.I.

 In 1959 I built a Heathkit “Benton Harbor Lunch Box” 6 meter  ~7 watt 50 Mc (MHz)  “Sixer”AM transceiver. The very first 6 meter contact I made with the “Sixer” was with K3FHC  Jim Douglas in Washington Boro. I was K3ITG back then and Jim got his call one year before I got mine.  He knew my grandfather Albert L. Ibaugh, Sr., also of Washington Boro. In our first long QSO, Jim invited me to attend the informal meeting of the area hams at the Columbia Hams & Eggers Breakfast Club at the Columbia steel diner which had been located in the second block of (342) Chestnut Street east of the RT 462 (old) Columbia – Wrightsville bridge.   I joined the CHEBC in June,1960 (few records kept then).

Columbia Diner Inside

The Chestnut Street Diner was moved east of Columbia on RT 462 where it is located today. The 342 Chestnut Street location is now occupied by a Turkey Hill Minit Market.

Columbia Diner Outside

Note Gas = $1.18 per gallon (~1970~?)!


Some time during 1960 the Columbia Hams & Eggers Breakfast Club  reorganized itself as the first ham radio club in western Lancaster County.  New name was not West LanCo A.R.C., it was

Full disclosure: Fire Chief of SFC, at that time, was my cousin-in-law Scott P. Rhoads, KA3HJL (now N3CRS) and my cousin is Scott’s XYL (wife) Terresa (Terry) [Green] A. Rhoads, KA3WHK (now N3IKH) both of Columbia.

Columbia Area Amateur Radio Club.

The new CAARC used the ARRL’s club charter and bylaws templates and organized along those lines. I think the first years dues were $5 per ham. CAARC (~1960) Organizers: K3FHC,  K3BKH (SK), WA3UOE, K3CMD, WA3OUF, KA3HJL, KA3WHK, K3ITG and some others, who’s calls I can’t remember. The CAARC membership elected officers and composed a member list. This was the club’s first affiliation effort with ARRL.

CAARC encouraged members to participate in local RACES and ARES in Lancaster County.

The club applied for a 2m repeater frequency pair from the ARRL’s Frequency Coordination Committee and received it.  I think it was 146.715 MHz. This frequency pair is not in use now.

The club meetings were held at the “Hambones” Fire Company (aka: Susquehanna Fire Company) at 10th  & Manor St., Columbia, PA 17512.

A separate CAARC work group arranged for a repeater location  on Little Chickies Hill, a high hill (650FASL) over looking Columbia and high above the Susquehanna River in a small park known as Breezy View Community Park on RT441 River Road. Borrowed and donated equipment got the CAARC repeater on the air as K3FHC/RPT (Jim Douglas was CAARC president at that time). Building was 4’x4’x8′ and AC power from pavilion for $50 per year.

The site of the CAARC repeater site. Now grown over and back to nature
The site of the CAARC repeater site. Now grown over and back to nature

Much later, in the 1980’s, the CAARC got the chance to move to a much better location on the Ironville Fire Company grounds, behind the fire engine bays. That is where the small donated prefabbed office building was placed. This is the small building, home to K3FHC/R at Ironville F.C.  grounds. A small prefabbed office building was donated to CAARC and that housed the clubs equipment and repeater systems behind the I-ville Fire Co’s main building. The repeater’s tower was donated and was fastened to the backside of the prefabbed unit. CAARC membership made sub-sandwiches and all members were required to sell as many as they could. The subs were made in the fire hall’s large well equipment kitchen. With some of the income  the club bought a used set of duplex-er cavities which helped keep the input receiver from desensitizing when running full transmitter power only 600 KHz up the band. We were allowed use of the large Fire Hall building for meetings, FCC License Exam Prep Classes, RACES & ARES meetings and even yearly ARRL Field Day operations (open to public visitation). Things were going well enough for CAARC.  Then a name change to SPARC.

The club was in identity transition from CAARC (Columbia Area Amateur Radio Club) to SPARC (Southern Pennsylvania A.R.C.) and a club outing for a tour of Cardinal Technologies in Lancaster facilitated the gathering of a large number of members. Until that time the club, QTH at the IRonville Fire Station Annex, used a members personal call sign for club activities. It was at that short meeting at Cardinal Tech the club picked “K3IR” out of several available call signs; K3IR as representative of IRonville’s only radio club. I voted for K3IR because it was very easy (& fast) to send in Morse code (CW).

Sometime around 1988 there was a movement in the county fire safety organization to merge two or more small fire companies to save fire safety costs.  I lived in Landisville when the Landisville Fire Company was closed and resources and man power merged with the former Salunga Fire Company and the new combined company was called Hempfield Fire Department.

In 1992 the  Southern Pennsylvania A.R.C.,  was incorporated as a 501(C)(3) Not-For-Profit Organization.  Founded in ~June~ 1960 (as CH&EBC), later as CAARC, then finally,  Incorporated March 27, 1992 as SPARC-Inc. Donations were finally tax deductible. Rumors  about an Ironville and Silver Spring Companies merger abounded. Of course the one that would disappear would be Ironville F.C., the Fire Hall, all buildings and structures

The first to go was the Ironville Fire Hall. Only the brick & mortar fire truck bays stood for a few months more. The SPARC building and the tower with all antennas would need to find a new QTH (home). The IFC grounds was converted into the West  Hempfield Twp. Community Park (3rd park in W.Hemp.Twp., within two miles).  SPARC was lucky enough to find an old microwave tower and building on an acre of land on a high location in Rapho Twp. The club bought the property and moved all things SPARC to the new QTH (home) in 2003.

The clubs activities were not limited to the ham radio station K3IR’s location. There have been

many club field trips. One most notable trip was the SPARC visitation to the Frisbie’s Marconi Museum. Most of the SPARC’s 2011 visit photo review is still viewable at this URL:

The most valuable innovation at the   K3IR-SPARC radio site.  [AA3C’s monolog about using the fiberglass outhouse without the aid of moon light or any light at all. ★BRIGADEAR★ vetoed  the monolog!]        ★BRIGADEAR★=N3CXY.

As of November 2010 SPARC has a “solar powered potty” fiberglass outhouse at the Club site!  Harry-WA3FFK brought the donated solar power lighting unit all the way from Harry’s daughter’s location in Iowa. The full story (including photos) is in Harry’s November, 2010’s President’s Message in the club’s newsletter, the QRZNews found at URL:


What does SPARC-K3IR offer to members?

    SPARC Inc. has a very liberal membership usage policy of the club’s Rapho Twp. QTH. A paid-up member, in good standing and a club key holder, may access club property and operations facility for the purpose of individual  radio operations. The individual is obligated to operate under the FCC rules and conform to the modes, power and frequency allocation assigned to his/her own license class. Since it is an individual activity and not the club’s, the individual’s call sign must be used; from http://www.K3IR.ORG

 ●FM 2 Meter Repeater 145.230 MHz (-Tx, PL tone 118.8 Hz)

●FM 2 Meter Repeater  (Not In Service Now) 146.715 MHz (-Tx, PL tone 118.8 Hz)

●FM 70 cm Repeater 449.975 MHz (-Tx, PL tone 114.8 Hz)

●FM 70 cm Repeater 443.250 MHz (+Tx)

●ATV Fast Scan Beacon 923.250 MHz 4000mW PEP-ERP

●ATV Fast Scan 426.250 MHz (Tx/Rx)

●KA Node K3IR-3 145.030 MHz 1200 baud

●Future 145.690 MHz (Forwarding)

●Future 223.440 MHz (Forwarding)

●Packet Radio K3IR-1 BBS 145.030 MHz

   data speed 1200 baud

  K3IR-1 Packet BBS.

The packet BBS Mail Drop is running on a Kantronics KPC-3+ TNC and a Alinco DR-1200T transceiver.  This system is located at the K3IR repeater site in Rapho Township, Pennsylvania, at 622′ ASL.  The repeater is in grid square FN10se  ( 76° 27′ 17″ West, 40°10’02″ North ) and is approximately 12 miles North West of Lancaster, PA.  The system is backed up by a UPS and the entire system is backed up by a  7  KW  propane emergency generator. In the event of a power failure during emergencies this system will remain on line.

K 3 I R – Prime Data Packet System Communications Port 1 Frequency  145.030 MHz Radio     DR-1200T Power   25 Watts Antenna    5/8wave Ground Plane at 40′ Speed    1200 baud Use-Info   User BBS Mail Drop Sysops: Mike-N3XPD, Dave-N3LOM  & Harry-WA3FFK

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