Amateur Radio Enthusiasts Gather at Grant



GRANT — A group of men gathered on the lawn behind the Grant Community Center, braving the unsettling Saturday heat with a singular goal in mind. They erected a large antenna on the lawn and they set up their headquarters in an RV.

They ran wires from the RV through the antenna to a big generator in the back. They listen on headphones and turn dials and talk in technical jargon over the hum of static and the crackle of radio chatter.

These men make up the Harris/Intersil Amateur Radio Club, and they’re here for the Amateur Radio Relay League field day, where amateur radio clubs around the world compete to see how well their radios can perform in an emergency scenario.

In the event of a natural disaster — a disaster where cell towers are down and satellite phones are easily overloaded — amateur radio could be one of the few ways people have to quickly transmit information to each other over long distances, according to Francis “Butch” Parsche.

Richard Abrahams, 75, got into amateur radio as a teenager in the 1950s as part of a Cold War-era program that taught young men how to use the equipment in the event of an emergency. disaster between the United States and the Soviet Union.

“It’s not a complex system,” says Abrahams, adding that its simplicity is what makes it so reliable in an emergency. “All you need is two stations.”

The aim of the field day, which takes place 24 hours a day from Saturday to Sunday afternoon, is to establish as many contacts as possible with other radio stations around the world. Points are awarded based on the number of contacts made, as well as how they were made. Using backup power like a generator or renewable energy like a solar panel will earn your club more points.

Parsche, who operated the radios at a research facility at the South Pole, doesn’t really care about points. He has loved the radio since the age of 12. Now 47, he is an engineer at Harris Corp. and works on special antennas. And, he also spends his free time with antennae.

“I made a wonderful group of friends, and that launched me into a career in engineering,” says Parsche. “And I can help people in an emergency.”

In addition to HIARC at Grant, the Platinum Coast Amateur Radio Society participates in the field day at the Melbourne Fire Training Centre.

HIARC meets on the second Thursday of each month at Memaw’s BBQ on Babcock Street in Palm Bay. Parsche says anyone is welcome to come and find out more information about what they do.

Contact Vazquez at 321-242-3690, or follow him @tyler_vazquez on Twitter.

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