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.