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Deadwyler column: Talk your way into a hobby

By Hugh Deadwyler
For the Salisbury Post
Thousands of ham radio operators will be showing off their emergency capabilities this weekend.
Over the past year, the news has been full of reports of ham radio operators providing critical communications in emergencies including the California wildfires, Oregon and Michigan storms, tornadoes and other events world-wide.
During Hurricane Katrina, amateur radio, often called “ham radio,” was often the only way people could communicate.
The annual event called “Field Day” will be held this Saturday and Sunday at Sloan Park. Our local operators, and the hams they contact, will be using only emergency power supplies. Ham operators will construct emergency stations in parks, shopping malls, schools and backyards all over the country.
In the Rowan County area, the Rowan Amateur Radio Society (RARS) will be demonstrating amateur radio at Sloan Park ó about eight miles down Mooresville Road (N.C. 150) from noon Saturday, continuously, until noon Sunday.
(Park hours for field day public visitation are noon Saturday until the park closes at 8 p.m. Field Day can again be observed when the park reopens Sunday at 9 a.m. until the event ends at noon.)
Tommie Wood N4YZ (his call sign) president of our club (RARS) says, “Everyone is welcome to come watch amateur radio in action on field day and even sit down as guests of the club and make ham radio contacts themselves on a dedicated visitor station.”
Field Day is about hauling in and setting up emergency communications and “contesting” for number of contacts made throughout the region and all over the country.
But if you’re not interested in the heavy lifting aspect of ham radio, you can easily chat, with simple equipment, from your location at home.
Ham radio is very interesting either with contacts you make directly or conversations you hear just tuning across the ham radio bands. Conversations encompass everything from the weather, to families, to just anything that you’d discuss with a friend.
I listened, fascinated, while a ham from Ohio and an English-speaking ham from Japan compared fish stories on Internet “virtual” ham radio for licensed hams. Because they were online, they were able to exchange pictures of the fish they caught as well.
If you’re interested, you can order “The Ham Radio License Manual” from the national radio league by calling 1-860-594-0355. There’s some memorization required for the test, but don’t let that put you off. The material is about on the level of eighth-grade science and you can miss some of the multiple choice questions and still pass the test. When you’re ready to take the exam you can check out the test sites and dates by getting on the Rowan Amateur Radio Club Web site at www.rowanars. org/ and click on “VE Testing.”
Ham radio is a great hobby. You won’t regret studying for your license and we look forward to seeing you for “Field Day” this weekend!

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