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Ham Radio Operators More Than Just Enthusiasts:
by on July 9, 2014
ORANGE PARK -- Despite all of the modern forms of communication, such as smart phones, text messaging, social media and Internet chat, one communication medium is standing the tests of time. Last weekend, ham radio operators from the Clay County Amateur Radio Emergency Services and the Orange Park Amateur Radio Club celebrated the climax of the week long "Amateur Radio Week" in partnership with the American Radio Relay League. The field day – held at Orange Park High School – allowed club members to check their radio equipment to ensure it will work at peak proficiency in the case of an emergency. Local ham radio operators are often called on to augment the communications abilities of emergency services providers around the country. During the height of 2012’s Super Storm Sandy, some municipalities in the Northeast Atlantic area completely lost their communications abilities. Unable to direct emergency personnel to where they were needed, those municipalities reached out to the ham radio operators from around the country for help, including those from Clay County. "Sometimes in a storm like that, they can’t connect to their responders directly. That’s where we come in. We relayed directions for emergency responders letting them know where they were needed," said Scott Roberts, public information officer for Clay County Amateur Radio Emergency Services. "We also relayed messages between family members letting them know their families were safe and sound." In times of catastrophic weather emergencies, the CCARES ham radio operators are ready to help when other forms of media, such as smart phones and other Internet communications fail. "Atmospheric conditions do affect the range of our signals. What’s funny is how I can talk to someone in Atlanta and then 10 minutes later Atlanta won’t be able to hear me, but someone in Colorado will," Roberts said.

Transatlantic Signal From Pouch Cove Sets Record:
by on July 9, 2014
A group of amateur radio enthusiasts set a new record on Monday when they sent a radio signal across the Atlantic ocean from Newfoundland to Europe. Roger Sturtevant, part of the group from Nova Scotia, said they wanted to use new technology to replicate, in reverse, Guglielmo Marconi's 1901 transatlantic signal. He said the group was successful, and managed to send a two-meter (144 MHz) radio signal from Pouch Cove to the U.K., setting a record and surprising many amateur radio enthusiasts. "In our hobby, this is really reaching for the limits -- most people think it could not be done," Sturtevant told the St. John's Morning Show. "Theoretically, perhaps it could. We'd have to have exactly the right conditions at the right time." Sturtevant said the group was thrilled when their message was heard across the Atlantic Ocean, and they weren't the only ones celebrating. "[There were] lots of high fives, and immediately in Europe there were chat pages where amateurs were all looking and they're watching what everyone's trying to do. Many, many operators tried to work our station and all of a sudden the information was just spreading like wildfire amongst radio operators, and by yesterday it basically had gotten around the globe," he said.

The World Cup of Ham Radio:
by on July 9, 2014
San Diegan competing for top prize in New England: No sleeping. Not if you want to win. And John Barcroft wants to win. The San Diego resident is headed to Boston Tuesday for the World Cup of amateur radio, a quirky round-the clock contest featuring 59 two-person teams from 38 countries. At 8 a.m. on Saturday, the teams will be huddled in tents pitched here and there across 90 miles of New England countryside, radios tuned, headphones on, antennas up, searching for anybody else who might be on the air. They’ll have 24 hours to make as many contacts as possible, with more points awarded to connections in faraway places. Most points wins. So no sleeping. “If you don’t hit the ground running and keep going the whole time, you will lose,” said Barcroft, 68, a retiree who lives in University City. Amateur radio, more commonly known as ham radio, seems like a quaint hobby, a relic made obsolete by cellphones and text messages and Skype. The only time most people think about ham radio is when it’s needed because some kind of natural disaster or other emergency has knocked modern devices out of service.

Steady Frequency: McKinney Amateur Radio Club Tests Service, Gains Youth:
by on July 8, 2014
For Mike Baker, an 18-year member of the McKinney Amateur Radio Club (MARC), the importance of constant communication is simple. “Got to keep the Morse code up, because if we get invaded by aliens, that’s what we’ve got to have,” said Baker, an engineer with the Department of Homeland Security. In all seriousness, Baker and dozens of other club members converged last weekend in Fairview for their annual field day. They communicated with hundreds of ham radio operators around the country and tested their capabilities. A straight weekend of contacts ensures the club’s repeaters and go-kits – equipment frequently updated – are viable in times of emergency: inclement weather, natural disasters, a blackout or even war. Staying ever ready is their job. “We’re not really a hobby – the [Federal Communications Commission] defines us as the amateur radio service,” said Baker, the club’s communications director. “We provide service to the city, state and country.” More than 130 members make up the club, which started in the 1960s. Many are amateurs, not even five years into it, Baker said. They’re young or new enthusiasts who’ve embraced ham radio’s endurance in an age of technology.

Hams Gather for Olympics of Radio:
by on July 8, 2014
UXBRIDGE - "Kay five Zulu Delta,’’ said Randy Thompson. "This is Kay five Zulu Delta.’’ Repeating his call sign and carefully turning the dial of his Elecraft radio, the lifelong ham radio enthusiast from Uxbridge listened as "Sugar Poppa two Yankee’’ – "Mark from north Poland" – greeted him through a patch of static. "I love knowing someone can hear me on the other side of the world,’’ said Thompson, sitting before a bank of radios and amplifiers in his home radio station. Just beyond his swimming pool, three antennas – 100, 90 and 40 feet tall – rose from the woods surrounding his house. "It’s a little bit like fishing,’’ he said. "You never know who’s out there and who’s going to call back.’’ As co-chairman of the World Radiosport Team Championship 2014, Thompson will be bringing that excitement and drama to New England this week as 59 teams from around the world compete in the grueling, day-long competition known as the "Olympiad of amateur radio."

Dufferin County's 'Last Line of Defense':
by on July 8, 2014
Ham radio operators have county’s back when technology goes awry: A call goes out over the airwaves seeking a response from other amateur radio operators. “CQ, CQ, CQ, Victor, Echo, Three, Whiskey, Whiskey, United here,” say members of the Dufferin Amateur Emergency Radio Service (ARES), relaying the group’s call sign. Other amateur radio operators from points located across Canada, the United States, Puerto Rico, and even as far away as Russia, answer the call. The annual exercise, called Field Day, is the climax of Amateur Radio Week sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). Members of the Dufferin ARES joined thousands of other “hams” across North America in showing their emergency capabilities in late June. “We did make contacts over the biggest part of the United States, North America, Puerto Rico. We actually made one contact in Russia,” said Wayne McLean, co-ordinator of the Dufferin ARES. “We can actually talk anywhere in the world when you get right down to it.” Despite the Internet, cellphones, email and modern communications, regions can find themselves in the dark during disaster events. In many cases, the one consistent service that never fails is amateur radio.

Teen Creates Backup Emergency Communications System for Local Fire Station:
by on July 8, 2014
PALM HARBOR -- An Eagle Scout project turned into an Everyday Hero nomination for a Pinellas County teenager. Parker Mitchell decided to create a backup communications system for Palm Harbor Fire Station 35. The 18-year-old is a licensed amateur radio operator. “I decided since we have so many hurricanes in Florida, emergency communications would be a really good thing to do it on,” Parker said.

Meet Desmond Young, the Jimi Hendrix of Ham Radio:
by on July 7, 2014
Desmond Young is the Jimi Hendrix of amateur radio operators. Last week, taking part in the National Association for Amateur Radio's annual "field day" at the Warrington Fire Station, the "key and paddle" transmitter Young was using to communicate in Morse code to amateur radio operators across the country wasn't behaving like he wanted it to. Young, 87, has been doing HAM radio since the 1940s and likes his transmitter to be a certain way. "It's sticking," Young said. "Needs a hex driver." So when his malfunctioned, he borrowed one from a fellow HAM operator. Thing was, that operator was left-handed, and Young is right-handed. So what did Young do? He flipped the transmitter upside down and got back to broadcasting. Now Hendrix may have been a lefty, but Young rocked that transmitter just like he's been doing since the 1940s in the British Army. Young immigrated to the States in 1957 and is now a part of the Escambia County Amateur Radio Emergency Service and the Five Flags Amateur Radio Association, two groups that assist the county in emergency operations when traditional means of communication are cut off.

WIA Commences Bandplans Review:
by WIA on July 7, 2014
The WIA has commenced a review of the Australian Amateur Radio Bandplans. Bandplans are a way of trying to give everyone a fair share; an aim which becomes increasingly difficult as spectrum becomes crowded. For instance, in the case of 2-metre and 70cm repeaters on the east coast, the number of available frequencies is very limited and it has become necessary to reduce channel spacing or channel re-use distances, or both. Band planning is also complicated by the need to plan, as much as possible, for emerging technologies. That means that some spectrum must be kept in reserve for new applications, and some band segments may need to be reallocated to new uses as some operating modes decline in popularity. Some affiliated clubs and WIA members have already sent suggestions about how to improve the Bandplans, and work has already started on a revision of the 6-metre Bandplan following the closure of television channel 0, but we are very keen to hear from all users in order to identify the current Bandplan issues.

Ham Radio Field Day Draws Thousands to Events Nationwide:
by on July 6, 2014
ROCKWOOD -- There has been some type of attack or accident. No one knows exactly what as normal means of communications are down across the region. Phones aren’t working, radios are silent and television stations aren’t broadcasting. That’s just one type of scenario that amateur radio operators, or ham radio operators as they have become known, practice for on Field Day. Since ham radios don’t depend on the Internet, cell towers or other infrastructure, they work when nothing else is available.

Amateur Radio Operators Prepare for Hurricane Season:
by on July 6, 2014
Amateur Radio Operators Prepare for Hurricane Season:

Bozeman Resident to Compete in World Radio Competition:
by on July 5, 2014
Bozeman resident Chris Hurlbut has many hobbies, including hiking, fishing and playing with his ham radio. Did that last one seem unusual? Ham radio is a hobby in which licensed amateur radio operators transmit over the airwaves, both for fun and, sometimes, to provide emergency communications. “Ham radio has been in my family for a very long time,” Hurlbut said. “My grandfather used it. My dad practiced, so it was only natural that I was introduced to it.” There is an old saying among the licensed amateur radio operators that says, “When all else fails, ham radio goes through.” And this month, Hurlbut will go through with the 2014 World Radio Sport Team Championship. Hurlbut has been competing with and using ham radios for most of his life. The weekend-long competitions often require staying awake for long periods to win; Hurlbut once stayed up for 44 hours for a competition.

Always Alert, Amateur Radio Operators Take to the Airwaves:
by on July 5, 2014
KIRKSVILLE, MO. -- Strong storms that moved through the Heartland early this week are a sign that severe weather season is in full swing, but even when severe weather strikes, and the power goes out, there’s a group of local amateurs just waiting to help, amateur radio operators that is. “There was a storm this spring which was not terribly severe, but actually quite a bit of power was out...I just started listening, there were hams, some were out, some were just in their home, various people kind of called in you know where the power is out, that kind of thing,” said Don Bindner, a local amateur radio operator (also known as a ‘Ham’). In his spare time, Bindner enjoys operating a small Ham radio out of his garage. It may not seem like much, but Bindner considers it a rich hobby that allows him to experiment, build and connect with other ham radio enthusiasts around the world.

OIS Student Earns License Early:
by on July 4, 2014
Cameron Nielsen, 12, is barely out of seventh grade and already has his license - an amateur radio license, that is, with a personal call sign of K-K-6-M-V-U. Cameron was by far the youngest student in a Technician's level license class recently taught by Lamorinda Area Radio Interest Group president Keith Riley. All amateur radio operators must pass a test before being licensed by the Federal Communications Commission; the test is heavy on science and math, and there is no child-friendly version. According to the American Radio Relay League, there are more than 700,000 radio amateurs in the U.S. licensed as Technician, General and Extra class. Cameron first learned of the training opportunity through his Boy Scout troop. He'd already earned his Communications badge and wanted to work on his Radio badge. Of all the members in his troop (Orinda's 237), "nobody signed up [for the radio class] except Cameron," said his father, Ken Nielsen. The Nielsen family was already acquainted with amateur radio, having been neighbors with Ham Radio Outlet owner and founder Robert Ferrero. Cameron found it fascinating people could talk to someone as far away as Brazil so easily. The license class was a series of six two-hour sessions with optional practice test-taking exams online. A written license exam was administered at the final meeting. "It took me a little longer to take the test," Cameron said, but he passed it the first time. The older Nielsen is justifiably proud of his son's math abilities, saying his son easily memorized the household's 26 digit alpha-numeric Internet access code. Both father and son credit Riley for working with Cameron to learn radio protocols, earn his license and become involved with LARIG itself. "He's invited me to work [communications for] the Moraga Treeline Triathlon and the Orinda Fourth of July Parade," Cameron said. But Cameron has had little time even to listen in on his Icom multiband radio yet, a gift from Berkeley Yacht Club's Michael Whitfield, because of his other activities: He's just finished playing baseball, and is currently sailing and taking acting classes. That's a full plate for the Orinda Intermediate School student, who's content to "sign off" his radio for now.

Lupinacci Recognizes Importance of Amateur Radio Emergency Service:
by on July 4, 2014
(Long Island, NY) Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R,C,WF,I-Huntington Station) recently attended the Amateur Radio Field Day in Huntington. The 24-hour event, held at West Hills Park, was a demonstration to the public focusing on the terms of emergency preparedness and communication modalities. The demonstration educated the public on ways to communicate and obtain proper emergency services when cell phones go down and electrical power goes out.

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Clinton Herbert (AB7RG) Please submit any Amateur Radio related news or stories that you would like to see, here on If you need any help, we are glad to assist you with writing your article based on the information you supply. If there are any problems please let me know. (This includes any inappropriate posts on a topic, as I cannot monitor every topic.) Sincerely 73 de Clinton Herbert, AB7RG