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Ham Radio, Kids and ....Santa !

Nigel Peacock (G4KIU) on December 5, 2000
Website: http://www.qsl.net/k0usa
View comments about this article!

The Ak-Sar-Ben Amateur Radio Club of Omaha Nebraska is once again undertaking the monumental task of setting up the North Pole Network. Working closely with Santa and area hosptitals, honorary elf, N0HPP is making the final arrangements. Santa's North Pole Annex (located in an undisclosed location) is being readied and the hospital techncians are preparing their video distribution centers for the special hook up with Santa via ATV. This year 4 area hospitals are anxiously awaiting Santa's visit.

Using the WBCMC ATV repeater and the KUSA 2m FM repeater, (both located on the WOWT broadcast tower) a group of carefully selected hams will help dozen's of hospitalized kids get their Christmas wish lists to Santa. The video feed of Santa live from the North Pole Annex is piped into the ATV repeater. This in turn is picked up by the specially installed equipement on top of the 4 hospitals. This signal s then distributed throughout the hospital on an internal channel. The kids can see and hear Santa on their television sets. They can talk back to Santa over the 2m repeater on a hand held radio.

While Santa does know all the kids of course, he gets a little coaching via the KBOY repeater. Information about each patient is relayed to the North Pole Annex Studios. The timing is such that Santa is sure who's room the hams are entering. He calls them by name as the TV is turned on and the hams enter the room. The kids are all smiles. Even the most doubtful child is won over, when Santa talks directly to him or her right from their TV set in full color. Santa also asks the hams to go to the waiting rooms and make sure that the kids waiting there for a relative also have a chance to get their wish lists in.

To keep the net moving along, the contacts go back and forth between the various hospitals. Which ever hospital is ready, the net control/director cues Santa. When delays are necessary, and to give Santa a break every so often, a special ID series of Christmas and Holiday images with the KUSA callsign for ID, are transmitted over the ATV repeater.

The Ak-Sar-Ben ARC has done this North Pole net for many many years. The last several under the direction of N0HPP. It has become such a sucessful event that the Child life staffs of hospitals call N0HPP to make sure the club still plans on coming. Some of the hospitals have even installed equipment specifically for the network, complete with an antenna aim permanently at the ATV repeater.

While the AK-SAR-BEN ARC does communications for numerous charity fund raisers, this is a special event. It was entirely initiated by the club and has no shortage of volunteers.

One hospital employee asked N0HPP how many children they had to have in the hospital before the club would go to the trouble to set up the network and come to their hosiptal. The reply was "One". Each hospital that wishes to participate is set up and tested and a contact person is given a number to call the morning of the network to inform the North Pole of how many children Santa will be able to visit at their hospital. Some years the lists are long at each hospital and other years we are blessed with only a few that we need to serve. Kids belong at home over the holidays not in hospital rooms. But the club and Santa get ready just in case. Everyone involved would be happy to have gone to all the effort and not have any one to talk to.

Happy Holidays!

Photos are available from last year's net at: http://www.qsl.net/k0usa

Member Comments:
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Ham Radio, Kids and ....Santa !  
by KF4ZGZ on December 6, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
You guys make me proud to be a ham!
I know you will have a Merry Christmas.
73 and may God bless you all!
Matt , KF4ZFZ
 
Ham Radio, Kids and ....Santa !  
by NV4T on December 8, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Congrats! Iwish more clubs would do this kind of thing. It's good PR, it's fun, and it makes those who participate have a nice warm feeling inside

73 and Seasons Greetings,

Bill nv4t
 
Ham Radio, Kids and ....Santa !  
by N0TRK on December 20, 2000 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for posting this to eham--- I sent the article out to a ham radio PR list that I am on.
The North Pole Net went off fairly well. One hospital had moved into a brand new building and
while the ATV signal was excellent, the RF abilities out posed some problems, but Hey, we
worked through it.

While listening to the local AM broadcast station, the drive time talk show host opened up a segment by
saying that his engineer had worked hard to set up a ham radio connection to Santa at the North Pole.
N0HPP (Pat Joseph) called in to talk to Santa and tell him about that the club was ready to go with the North Pole Net so he (Santa) could talk to the hospitalized children via ham radio and the kids would see him on ATV. -- Santa Ho Ho'd and said it was one of is favorite things to do. (This was not "our" Santa, it was a great response by that Santa!)

The talk show host was intriegued and exchanged several calls with Pat N0HPP and the Monday following the North Pole Net, Pat was a guest for a 45 minute stint on a 50,000 watt broadcast radio station (KFAB) where they talked about the North Pole Net, the Ak-Sar-Ben ARC, ham radio in general and all the services provided!

The direct link to the page from the 1999 North Pole Network is http://www.qsl.net/k0usa/northpole.html.

 
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