Amateur Radio Fans Answer the Call for Wood County Field Day | News, Sports, Jobs

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Photo of Brett Dunlap Jerry Wharton, President of the Parkersburg Amateur Radio Klub, uses his amateur radio on weekends from the cabin in Fort Boreman Park.

PARKERSBURG – Even in a “connected” world, there is a need for amateur radio operators, especially in emergencies.

Local amateurs gathered at a number of venues in Wood County on Saturday and Sunday to participate in the annual conference Field day which ends the week “Amateur Radio Week” sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the national association of radio amateurs.

Using only emergency power supplies, ham operators have built emergency stations in parks, malls, schools and backyards across the country as an exercise in setting up emergency communications. as well as a time to come together and present their hobby to the public.

The Parkersburg Amateur Radio Klub was established at Fort Boreman Hill Park in Parkersburg. Wood County Communications has set up locations with antennas and radio equipment along Henderson Farm Drive in Walker. Everyone was on the air for 24 hours from 2 p.m. on Saturday and until 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Operators could contact other operators around the world.

Photo of Brett Dunlap Conard Richardson of Waverly, Earl Hulce of Parkersburg and Bill Roberts of Lubeck operate an amateur radio station in Fort Boreman Hill.

PARK focused on contacts in North America with members claiming to have contacted individuals in each of the 48 states in the continental United States as well as contacts in Canada and the Caribbean.

“Every year we organize an emergency preparedness exercise, called ‘Field Day’, because everyone is in the field”, said Jerry Wharton, President of PARK. “What we do is we operate off the grid. I am running out of generator power.

“We operate for 24 hours and contact as many other league stations as possible.”

The goal for the participants is to install a station with no electricity on the network and have a station on the air to show that they can do so in an emergency when the cellular infrastructure could be damaged or inoperable.

Such operations were put in place in the aftermath of the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico, floods that hit Texas and elsewhere.

“Cellular towers are usually the first thing to do” said Wharton.

The radio Wharton was using ran on 12 volts, which he said could work in his car if needed during a power outage.

Several radio operators had back-up generators, solar panels, batteries and other forms of back-up power, Wharton said.

“It comes down to an emergency communication exercise”, he said of the need to contact locations in the United States.

Storms in the region have taken their toll with some reception. Wharton said within two hours he was able to make a dozen contacts on Saturday. Sunday, as the conditions were better, he made ten contacts in ten minutes.

Wharton himself has made contact with people along the east coast and in the eastern United States, including Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and elsewhere. Some of these states are divided into two or more districts depending on the concentration of radio stations.

California has six districts due to its size and population, he added.

The weekend’s event was also a test to see how well their equipment will perform in a remote location, Parkersburg’s Earl Hulce said.

“Can we go on the air and make communications?” “ He asked. “Can we communicate if necessary? “

They operated on all frequencies available for amateur radio, Hulce said, adding that they had established multiple contacts in some states.

Radio amateurs take courses. Many courses can last over a weekend and around 90% of them pass the test to become an amateur radio operator. There are three categories of licenses that people study and are tested for.

The attraction of radio is that it is person to person without networks that it takes for cell phones and the Internet, Blaine Auville of Belleville who has had his radio license for 55 years.

” We are alone “ he said. “We are talking directly to another person, transmitting up to 1000 watts.

“It can be anywhere in the world. “

Waverly’s Conard Richardson received his general class license last weekend and was able to use some of the radio bands he previously couldn’t. He established contacts as far north as Quebec, Canada, and as far south as the southern tip of Florida. He made contacts in Northwest Texas and Oklahoma.

His interest in amateur radio is linked to his interest in computers and allows him to broaden his knowledge.

“It’s a hobby like any other” Richardson said. “There is technical knowledge involved.

“It’s interesting and you are always learning something new. “

There are now over 700,000 amateur radio licensees in the United States and over 2.5 million worldwide. Through various programs, volunteers provide both emergency communications for thousands of national and local emergency response agencies and non-emergency community services.

The ARRL slogan is “When all else fails, Ham Radio works” shows that these operators can send messages in many forms without resorting to telephone systems, the Internet or any other infrastructure that could be compromised in the event of a crisis.

“The fastest way to turn a crisis into a total disaster is to lose communications” said Allen Pitts of the ARRL. “From the earthquake and tsunami in Japan to tornadoes in Missouri, amateur radio provided the most reliable communications networks in the critical early hours of events.

“Because amateur radios don’t depend on the Internet, cell phone towers or other infrastructure, they work when nothing else is available. We only need air between us.

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