A Short History of the Guilford Center (GC) and the Carolab ARC

by Bob Rosier / K4OCE

The North Carolina Bell Laboratory group had moved into a building on the corner of High Point Road and Pinecroft Road in Greensboro, NC. We all hoped that the building would be purchased and Bell Labs would finally have its own building. Although it was the right size and a good location, it was not to be.

Western Electric started building the Guilford Center between Greensboro and Burlington right on Interstate 85, and this would become our new home. I was involved in helping to set up our laboratories, so I visited the building often during construciton. I made sure each lab had a solid ground connection to the building's main ground buss, and also made sure there was a conduit from one lab to the roof. Forutnately, no one questioned why we needed the conduit, but I had in mind a coax run for antennas.

Bell Labs News article
GC ARC Writeup in Bell Labs News

Cliff Hurt and I started a new radio club and received the club call WB4MFA (Mighty Fine Amateur). During the trial period of a new club, funding was limited to a certain amount of money. This amount was not enough for our needs, but we requested the amount be increased to the price of a Heathkit HW101 transceiver, and it was approved. We took turns and after several lunch hours we completed the rig and were ready to test, but we didn't have a power supply. One of us had a suitable transformer, so with that and with the help of a Bell Labs gift shop, we had all the parts needed to complete the rig. We wanted a matching speaker, but we had used all the funds. When starting the new club, Bell Labs sent us the paperwork that we had to submit for establishing a new club. In the document, the word "speaker" caught my eye. Reading over carefully, the document stated that $25 could be spent on a speaker. The fine print (which I ignored) said that $25 was available for buying lunch for an outside speaker that gave a talk at a club meeting. I ordered the speaker from Heathkit, submitted the bill as "funds spent on a speaker" and it was paid. Either the person didn't notice, or he or she had a good sense of humor.

Next challenge was getting an antenna. Another road block. Western Electric stated that there would be no type of structure, especially antennas, on their new building. Cliff and I made an appointment with our illustraious leader, Ed Buschere. He had always been very supportive of our radio club. We have no idea what actually transpired, but a few weeks later we received a letter from Western Electric and it actually stated "it would be desirable to have an antenna on the roof for a radio club". Best we could determine, the negotiations meant a Western Electric/Bell Labs combined club which was always our intent anyway. Now we had Western Electric support, and Western Electric money. They built us a beautiful room (at a cross-over between two major hallways) with picture windows facing the cross-over. They thought it would be good to make it a show place for anyone passing by. This forced us to keep things cleaned up, and we were always visible during the day when we might want to operate. We decided to add curtains to our showroom.

With funding from both Bell Labs and Western Electric it developed into a very fine club station and we were all very proud. After enjoying our club station for several years, all Bell Labs employees were transferred back to Whippany, NJ, but we always remembered the best club station we ever had.