The Maryland FM Association, Inc. Turns Thirty Eight *
By: Bruce Carpenter, W3YVV
The Maryland FM Association,
Inc., more commonly known as The MFMA, was incorporated on
This organization was drawn
together by the development of Channelized FM operation on 2 meters which had
begun to develop in the
Those of us involved in these activities desired to acquire additional equipment to expand the FM operations. Amateurs were indirectly aided in this endeavor as the need for additional channels for Public Safety and Commercial radio users grew and the FCC developed a “Narrow Band Plan” that was implemented during the late 50’s. During this time much of the FM equipment that was used in Public Safety and Commercial service was replaced and the older, wide band, equipment was put on the surplus market. General Electric, Link, Motorola, and RCA equipment generally designed for single channel operation from 6 volt battery systems was acquired and modified to cover the amateur bands. AC power supplies were built and interfaced to the equipment to permit “base” station operation.
As interest grew in this mode of operation, and more 150 “Megacycle” equipment became available, the number of stations on 2 meters began to grow. The channelization plan developed by the RACES organization became the “band plan”. Some individuals felt a repeater would provide a worthwhile advantage as the range was somewhat limited for mobile to mobile contacts.
In early 1963 a repeater was
placed in operation by W3YVV in
Channelized FM operation
began to catch on and other repeaters were established around the
Country. By mid 1964 better locations were sought for the
repeaters. Efforts to gain permission to use existing commercial tower
sites brought with it the need for organization, insurance and related issues
best served by a Club. During late 1964 an association of about 25
amateurs from the
Membership grew and monthly meeting attendance would sometimes total over 50 members. During the early 70’s the growth of FM operation on 2 meters had caught the eyes of manufacturers of Amateur equipment and multi-channel amateur equipment began to appear on the market. As this new equipment and additional multi-channel retired commercial equipment became available operation on 2 meters grew tremendously. Attendance at some MFMA meetings held at Goddard Space Flight Center sometimes reached 150 people. Parking lot “mini fests” were held before the meetings. There were speakers on various topics related to Channelized FM operation.
As the repeater systems
sponsored by MFMA grew, the need for financial support also grew.
Equipment, commercial antennas and transmission lines, site leases and power
bills added up. Although membership support was great, it was not
adequate to meet the desires of the repeater users. The need for added
financial resources grew and the MFMA Annual Hamfest was born, first held in
National Guard Armories around the area and presently held in May of each year
at the Howard County Fair Grounds in West Friendship,
During this 30 year period we have seen many changes in Amateur Radio. Technology, an evolution of available equipment, license requirements, operator privileges, and a tremendous growth in Channelized VHF and UHF FM operation.
MFMA membership has averaged about 100
over the last several years. The club presently sponsors linked repeaters
on 146.76, 224.76 and 444.0 MHz. which are located in
Anyone interested in joining
the Club or otherwise corresponding with the Club may write to the Maryland FM
Happy 38 th. Birthday to The MFMA, Inc.
* NOTE: Originally written in May 1996 for Auto Call Magazine.
©MFMA 1996, Revised 2004