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Letter: Good Ground Was All Around

Remembering the Mummy Mountain Radio Club

Dear RW:

Your article about grounding in the Rocky Mountains brings to mind a moment dating back to the early 1960s, when I was ham radio operator K7VPK and attending ASU/Tempe’s radio and TV program.

One of my experiences at that early age was meeting members of the “Mummy Mountain Radio Club.” Among them was Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, ham radio call sign K7UGA.

I was invited to visit the club up in Scottsdale north of Tempe; when I did I was amazed at what I saw. All high-frequency operating bands had their own operating rooms/positions in a custom-built “clubhouse,” the members of which included Goldwater, the CEO of the Donnelley Press in Chicago and other heavy hitters.

The estimated cost invested in building the clubhouse and obtaining equipment was north of $100,000, equivalent to nearly a million dollars today. Each ham band (80 meters, 40 meters, 20 meters, etc.) had its own operating room and complete Collins Kilowatt console. Simply the best of the best!

Now to the relevant part.

Since grounding was such a problem in mountainous Scottsdale, the question was how to be grounded effectively. Each operating position and custom antenna for each band to be worked needed to be grounded well for operating efficiency and safety.

The engineers installing the antennas suggested that the club members simply tap into a copper vein there on Mummy Mountain.

I was told that this took a bit of digging but it was done. The resulting electrical ground turned out, I was told, to be the best possible solution to the problem … in fact, an exceptional one.

Ham radio? Sen. Goldwater and his friends made sure they had nothing but the best; and they produced signals from the MMRC that were heard around the world. As a matter of fact, the MMRC facility was used to run phone patches for GIs in Vietnam as well as Goldwater’s home station on Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale for several years.

Don Watson, W5TNA is with in Pensacola, Fla.

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