The Hill Country Amateur Radio Club took a long-awaited milestone on August 23 when nine of its members successfully raised a 60-foot free-standing antenna tower. The tower is positioned on a concrete base more than six feet deep consisting of a reinforcing cage and nine cubic meters of concrete. The concrete base had to “cure” and harden for 30 days before being subjected to the stresses of the tower being erected.
Amateur radio operators, known as Hams, use equipment spanning multiple radio frequencies to perform two-way communication via voice, Morse code, and digital methods to exchange cultural, personal, and technical information with other amateurs of the whole world. In the United States, they are authorized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Historically, when disasters strike, power is lost, and standard means of communication such as telephones and the Internet are crippled or completely out of service, amateur radio operators have stepped forward, using their abilities to provide communication . On September 11, 2001, when America was attacked, cell phones and landlines were jammed and virtually useless. Dozens of ham radio operators helped police and firefighters maintain communications in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington DC
Following communication breakdowns in the county during the freezing weather emergency in February, HCARC approached Kerr County Commissioners to offer their equipment and assistance in such emergencies. The club has over 100 members with many thousands of man-years of combined experience in radio frequency transmission and communications.
The organization will move the majority of its radio station from the Red Cross building on Earl Garrett to its new location near Riverside Drive where the tower was erected. The facility will be used for routine and emergency communications as well as classroom training for those interested in obtaining their initial license or upgrading their existing license.
You don’t have to be a Ham to visit or join the club, which meets at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month in the Union Church building at 101 Travis St., just off Memorial Drive.
More information about the HCARC can be found on their website kerrhams.org.