Jacksonville Daily Progress
Amateur radio enthusiasts gathered together on Saturday to test their emergency readiness.
The Cherokee County Amateur Radio Club participated in the national American Radio Relay League (ARRL) event. Operators gathered at Hazel Tilton Park in Jacksonville, next to fire station one, and set up mobile communication towers and spent the afternoon making connections with radio operators in other states and chatting amongst themselves about life and radio.
William Foreman, president of the Cherokee County club and K5WCF on the airwaves, said there is a network of over 600,000 amateur radio operators in the United States.
“If we got into a situation where the police department had no communications, we can take these radios, hook them up to a generator and communicate,” said club member Virgil Buell of Jacksonville, or KD5KQV on the air.
Some communicated with Morse Code, and others by voice. Club member Tim Walley, KA5LPI, brought a radio setup in his truck connected to a generator. He said in an emergency his truck could become a mobile command station.
The amateur operators are governed by the FCC and are not allowed to communicate on the same frequencies as police, fire, and commercial radio stations. They must also pass a written test to get a license to be heard on the airwaves.
There are three classifications of operators: technical, general and extra class. Each requires more education and a different test to complete.
Club members said they find amateur radio to be a fun hobby, where they talk with people from all across the world.
Most members have contacted people from around the globe and communicated. Foreman said the hobby is similar to dialing a random number in a phone book and talking to the other person, but knowing whoever picks up on the other end has similar interests.
“It's an interesting activity, especially for kids because there is no age limit on when you can get a license,” said club member Richard Nielsen.
The club is planning to have classes in October to help anyone interested in the entry level, technical, certification. For more information contact Virgil Buell at 512-930-2074 or email K5JBVL@yahoo.com.