Ham radio operators make contact worldwide

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Morse code and call signs floated through the air last weekend as Valencia Amateur Radio Association members contacted operators from around the world.

Amateur operators of ham radios put their skills to the test as they simulated emergency operating conditions during their annual field day at Willie Chavez Park in Belen.

Abigail R. Ortiz-News-Bulletin photo: Charlie Lyon, right, assists Eugene Duran, left, with focusing on one call and discovering where it originated during the Valencia Amateur Radio Association’s annual field day this past weekend. Duran, who received his ham radio license in March, stumbled upon a call from Oregon.

They tuned into battery- and solar-powered radios for 24 hours.

“It’s the biggest annual ham radio event in the world,” said the local association’s president George Cusack.

Member Cliff Pulis estimated there are about 700,000 licensed amateur operators in the United States alone.

“The purpose of field day is to have fun with a little bit of competition,” Pulis said.

During emergency situations, ham operators assist first responders or survivors in communication efforts.

“Often times (ham radio operators) are the first people on scene simply because we have a radio in our car, drive there and see people in need,” Pulis said.

“We are a citizen’s force that can communicate very easily around the country, around the town and the world, if necessary.”

At the event, children learned the importance of carrying and operating a radio. As member Ralph Clark explained how to find the signal from a “lost fox,” he went on to describe how having a radio on hand saved his life.

While on a hiking trip last year, Clark felt a heart attack coming on about eight miles away from his parked vehicle and he radioed in his location. First responders were able to find him and offer aid.

Children later waved a directional antenna around the park’s grounds as they listened for the location of the hidden transmitter on a portable radio.

Experienced adults later joined in on the search without an antenna on the radio to add difficulty to the search.

The event was sponsored by the American Radio Relay League.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.