The Blue River Valley Amateur Radio Society began in 1956 under the direction of Shelbyville High School shop teacher Mel Davies, W9PLO. Davies also started a radio club at the school with the call sign K9GLV.
The General Electric Company’s Industrial Heating Department moved to Shelbyville in 1955, and many area hams worked there attended club meetings held at the high school.
After initial success, the club experienced a lull and eventually became defunct.
A sad moment for Shelby County hams came on December 18, 1968. Bob Eberhart, W9JUQ, his wife Lillian, WN9BOJ, and their son Ron, K9UVI, died following an automobile accident in Gainesville, Florida.
In 1971, Doral Hunt, WB9OKB, and Ron White, WB9ELY, decided to form the club again. The club’s home moved from the high school to a room above the then-Civic Center on East Washington Street.
In 1976, the Club officially became affiliated with the American Radio Relay League(ARRL) and is still affiliated today.
Hunt served as the first president with Ron White and Ralph Amos, K9JRK followed. In 1977, Ralph Polston, K9SEW became president and held the position until 1985.
In the early years of the club members began dabbling in a new mode of communication: Amateur Television (ATV). Under the direction of Don Miller, W9NTP, the club became very active in the hobby and continued to do so as membership waned.
During that time Novice Class operators were granted voice privileges in the 220 Mhz band. Therefore, in 1989, in an effort to get more hams to upgrade and possibly join the club, members voted to purchase a 220 Mhz repeater and necessary hardware.
Thanks to local business owner Carl Mohr, the club installed the repeater and its antenna on East Michigan Road. Mohr’s Michigan Road shop also hosted the club’s 440 Mhz repeater.
By the end of the 1980’s the club had two working repeaters. No small feat for a small town club with little to no funds.
In 1992 the club joined the Red Cross and moved to a new home on North Harrison Street in the SCUFFY Building. We remained at that location until 1998 when the Red Cross closed its office.
The club then moved to the Shelbyville City Hall. Both the 220 Mhz and 440 Mhz repeaters were moved to a room inside CIty Hall and an antenna was erected on the roof of the downtown building.
In 2012, the City reclaimed the repeater room and the club was asked to find a new location for their repeater. In 2014, Major Hospital allowed the club to place its 220 MHz and 440 MHz repeaters and antennas atop the Hospital building located in downtown Shelbyville. These two repeaters provide coverage over the central portion of the County.
The club also has a 2 meter repeater available for local amateurs to use. The repeater is located on the South side of Shelbyville on a tower owned by Drake Electric. Many thanks go to Drakes for allowing us to house our 2 meter repeater at their location. This repeater offers us County wide VHF coverage and is used for our Monday Night ARES Net and also during NWS/Skywarn Nets. This repeater operates on 145.48 MHz with a standard offset and no PL tones. This is an open repeater. This repeater also has battery backup so operations can be sustained during power outages.
With three repeaters for casual and emergency response use, the club is well equipped to serve Shelbyville and Shelby County well into the future.
As of 2014, the Club has a membership of almost 30 members. The Club holds regular meetings on a bi-monthly basis, holds regular radio nets on Monday evenings, participates in the ARRL Field Day exercise each summer and has a Ham Breakfast with the Hams 2 Saturday mornings each month at the local Denny’s restaurant. The Club is also working with the Grover Museum of Shelbyville, to put on a 3 month long exhibition in 2015. The exhibition, “100 Years of Radio in Shelby County,” will feature radio artifacts and history from Amateur Radio, Broadcast Radio and the products and inventions of local companies and inventors. This exhibition should help to get Amateur Radio before the public along with our Club.
2015 has been a great year for the BRVARS. We started the year off with the “100 Years of Radio in Shelby County” exhibit of vintage radio equipment at the Grover Museum in Shelbyville. The BRVARS worked together with the Museum to gather the vintage radio equipment for the exhibit. The equipment came from local amateur radio operators and out of the Museums archives. The exhibit filled two of the Museums galleries from January through March. Three Saturdays during January the BRVARS operated special event station W9S and made hundreds of contacts from all around the world. A temporary antenna was mounted on the roof of the Museum for the event.
Elected Officers for 2015 were Larry Hill, President, Jay Hilderbrand, Vice President, John Walker, Secretary and Brian Evers, Treasurer.
BRVARS held a local ARRL Field Day during the last weekend in June. A portable station was setup in front of Bill’s Satellite Service on East SR 44 were we got lots of attention from passing motorists. Lots of folks honked their horns at us as they passed by. The weather was just horrible. It was cold, wet and miserable, but that’s what Field Day is all about: getting out there and setting up communications on short notice in whatever conditions are present at the time. We had shelter and and operating station within 45 minutes of arriving at the location. We had quite a few visitors stop by and check out our operation during the day. We will put this one down in the books as a complete success.
On October 17, 2015, the Society held the Ralph Polston/Shelbyville Tailgate at the Shelby County Fairgrounds from 7:00AM until Noon. Attendance was up considerably this year and the Society plans on continuing this event in years to come. The cost to the Society is minimal to rent the Brinson Building so we will keep it a no fee event for attendees and those selling their wares.
At the November, 2015, meeting the following were elected to hold office for 2016: Larry Hill, President, Ron Bush, Vice President, John Walker, Secretary and Brian Evers, Treasurer.