The original W3GMS Repeater took Joe-W3GMS a year to design and build. That effort started in the summer of 1975. After being coordinated in 1976, it went on the air on November of 1976. Since that early on the air date, it has been in continuous operation. The original call-sign assigned by the FCC was WR3AHZ. Later the FCC dropped repeater call-signs and the call then became WA3GMS/R. Much later when Joe got a vanity call, the repeater became W3GMS/R. For many years 985 was able to operate without P.L. but after 20 years of operation, repeater congestion required a 100 Hz P.L. to be added to the repeater. 985 also transmits a generated 100 Hz P.L. tone so users can use tone squelch to allow a more peaceful listening experience. One of the original features of 985 back in 1976 was a voice ID’er that was made from a converted 8 track player. 68 different ID’s were recorded down at WPEN in Philadelphia. Later a CW identifier was shared with the 8 track player and the ID’s would alternate between voice and CW. The ID audio went through an automatic gain control circuit so the ID’s would be a consistent level. A second automatic gain control handled the incoming users audio so regardless of their deviation level, it would retransmit ones signal at 5 kHz of deviation. Split antennas are used on the repeater to minimize the number of duplexer cavities. The result is lower insertion loss in the receiver antenna path which yields better receive sensitivity. Another benefit of the two antenna approach, should one antenna fail, the repeater can still remain on the air. 146.985 has always been privately owned and maintained by W3GMS.
Joe W3GMS flipping the “big switch” to officially put 146.985 on the air November 1976
The 985 repeater building
The First Repeater License Effective 08-06-76