Don Martin, left, and Scott Owen demonstrate how to contact other ham operators during the Mississippi
Coast Amateur Radio Association’s 40th anniversary celebration Saturday at Edgewater Mall.
Although it may seem like an outmoded form of communication with the invention of Internet chat rooms and Skype, ham radio enthusiasts are still very relevant today and number nearly 3 million worldwide. Mississippi alone has about 4,000 users.
Before hitting the waves, ham radio users are required to pass a basic FCC test.
“It’s open to everybody. If you can read, you can pass the test,” said Samuelson, adding there are children as young as 5 who operate their own radios.
Samuelson said he hopes more young people will get into the hobby.
“Ham radio is a good way to learn different languages and about different parts of the world,” he said. Although many international radio operators speak English, Samuelson said many MCARA members speak other languages.
And “with international Morse code you can talk to anybody,” he said.
But ham radios aren’t just a hobby. In emergencies, ham radios can still reach other parts of the state, country and world.
Several MCARA members have FEMA emergency certification and were instrumental in establishing communication in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
“When other communications systems are out, we’re there,” Samuelson said.
But, said member Allan Hubberd, “the bottom line is that it’s fun. You can meet so many interesting people and develop longtime friendships.”
MCARA participates in a number of activities throughout the year, including competitions, picnics and a field day to test operators’ abilities and prepare for emergency situations.
Source: www.sunherald.com -