Big Thunder Amateur Radio Club

Welcome to the Big Thunder Amateur Radio Club's home page. I am excited you have found our page and hope you will join us on the airwaves, or at a meeting. Big Thunder, or BTARC for short, is a ham radio club based in Boone County, Illinois. We are a group dedicated to enhancing the skills of ham radio operators in Northern Illinois. Our purpose is promoting radio knowledge and operating efficency while promoting social interaction between hams.

The club conducts programs and activites to advance the general interest of amateur radio in the community while assisting the community in times of need.

Please take a look around our website to learn more about the club. Join us every second Thursday at the Spring Township Building, 3150 Shattuck Rd, Belvidere, IL at 6:30 PM for our monthly meeting. Please feel free to contact me, Matthew Tracy, at with any questions about the club!


Matthew Tracy

President, Big Thunder Amateur Radio Club

BTARC History

The Big Thunder Amateur Radio Club was formed in 1962. The club had a deep sense of committment to the community, and as such adopted a club name connected to the proud local heritage. The club chose the name "Big Thunder Amateur Radio Club" as a tribute to the last famous Potawatomi Indian Chief who lived and died in the Belvidere Area.

Club members in the 1970's decided they wanted to have an area repeater to use. Three of the club's members, WD9JGH, Mike George, K9ORU, and Claude Horsman, WB9PMM thought local hams could benefit from a repeater for emergency work and casual use as all club members were also part of RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services) at the time. Each pitched in $200 and bought a VHF Engineering repeater kit, puting it together in the basement of WD9JGH. K9ORU's call sign was chosen for the repeater after the three members drew straws. A find at a hamfest netted a four cavity Sinclair duplexer that finalized the major equipment purchases and the repater was installed in the basement of St. Joseph's hospital at the time.

Since the humble beginnings, the club moved their repeater the Belvidere Fire Station on State Street, back to the hospital, and then finally to its current location at the county highway department. The systems have been updated, but the dedication to both area ham users and emergency communications has not changed.

BTARC members participate in the community through a host of activities. Monthly meetings are held to conduct business and learn new things through various presentations. Members have assisted with safe walks in the community, hold an annual field day event, put on fox hunts, and offer communication support at events such as the Head of the Rock River Regatta and the Udder Century Bike Run.


BTARC has access to two FM repeaters in the Belvidere area. We host a weekly net on the 2 meter repeater each Sunday evening at 8:00 PM local time. Please drop in, our net is open to anyone and we would love to have you talk in to hear a bit more about the club.

Repeater RX PL Tone TX
2 meter 147.375 100.0 Hz +600 KHz
70 cm 442.825 114.8 Hz +5 MHz

Big Thunder Amateur Radio Club is open to anyone with an interest in amateur radio. We have no restrictions on location, and members of our club hail from Boone, DeKalb, McHenry, Winnebago, Kane, and even Cook Counties. You can come to any of our meetings without joining the club but if you are interested in joining, you can fill out the application below and bring it to any of our meetings.

Our meetings are held monthly at the Spring Township Building, 3150 Shattuck Rd, Belvidere, IL at 6:30 PM on the second Thursday of the month.

Membership Application
Upcoming Events
No Upcoming Special Events
Big Thunder Amateur Radio Club
BTARC Constitution
Membership Application
Contact Us

Matt Tracy, KC9YJO

Vice President

Roger Terhune, KC9LCF


Susan Simon, KD9BGO

Web Links

ARRL - ARRL is the national voice for ham radio and a weath of information.

Antenna Building - Steve James, KA9NPT, a member of our club suggested this site for building your own antennas.

Licensing Exams - If you are ready to get licensed in ham radio, or advance your license level, you can search hear to find all the testing locations.

Amatuer Radio Band Plan - Helpful information for all the bands amatuer radio operators can operate on

Q-Codes - Ham radio operators often use "Q" codes to shotren transmissions. An extensive list of some commonly used codes

Grid Mapping - Grid mapping is needed for some contests hams participate in

Northern IL ARES - ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services) is the emergency communications arm of ARRL.  NIARES serves Boone, Winnebago, and Stephenson Counties