Would you or your kids enjoy talking live on ham radio with other kids around the country?

Join the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the American Red Cross building, 2707 State St., when the club will open its radio station to the public for the American Radio Relay League’s Kids Day event.

Kids Day is an “on-the-air” event to encourage young people to have fun with ham radio. It is designed to give youngsters radio operation experience and foster interest so they might get an amateur radio license of their own. During the event, visitors will get a hands-on look at the hobby.

“Amateur radio isn’t just Morse code,” said Rod Fritz, the outreach committee chair for SBARC. “At Kids Day we’ll be letting our young visitors explore our fully equipped station’s capabilities to communicate long distances with voice, digital data and video.”

The ARRL organizes Kids Day each year and encourages amateur radio stations around the United States to participate in the event, allowing children in Santa Barbara to get on the air with kids in other cities and states. In past years, kids who have participated have been excited to see how they can transmit long distances just like broadcast stations do and enjoy competing to see who can make the longest distance contact.

Hams who were licensed as children or young adults often say that their involvement in amateur radio led them to rewarding careers in telecommunications, electronics and media. Many amateurs serve their communities with emergency communications in times of distress such as during fires, floods and severe storms that disrupt commercial phone and Internet services.

“Amateur radio operators are the original makers and hackers,” Fritz said. “We hams design, build and operate wireless stations capable of communicating around the world, even when traditional forms of communications are down.”

Doors open for Kids Day at 10 a.m. Sunday at the SBARC Club Station, which is accessible from the rear parking lot of the American Red Cross building on Alamar Street near State Street in Santa Barbara.

Children of all ages are welcome. Club members will be on hand to demonstrate and help youngsters. Information on amateur radio training and licensing will be available.

SBARC is a nonprofit public benefit corporation organized to promote education for persons interested in telecommunications, to disseminate information about scientific discoveries and progress in the field, and to train communicators for public service and emergency communications. SBARC also encourages and sponsors experiments in electronics and promotes the highest standards of practice and ethics in the conduct of communications.


Text: Rod Fritz

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