Highland Lakes ‘hams’ putting on amateur radio show

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MARBLE FALLS — The Highland Lakes Amateur Radio Club will ham it up June 22-23 at the Marble Falls Area Volunteer Fire Department, and members hope the public will stop by to see them in action.

Club members will show off their emergency communications capabilities during the event, which starts 1 p.m. June 22 and wraps up 1:30 p.m. June 23. The fire station is located at 650 Ave. U.

Club president Jim McCrocklin said many people might not be aware of the role “hams,” as amateur radio operators are called, play during emergencies. He pointed out when regular communications went down earlier this year in Marble Falls after the demolition of the old U.S. 281 bridge, ham radio operators still could operate.

While amateur radio is a fun hobby, it’s during the time when other communication modes are down or during emergencies that ham-radio operators reveal how important their role is in communities across the nation.

“Over the past year, the news has been full of reports of ham-radio operators providing critical communications during unexpected emergencies in towns across America, including wildfires, winter storms, tornadoes and other events worldwide,” a club release stated. “During Hurricane Katrina, amateur radio … was often the only way people could communicate, and hundreds of volunteer ‘hams’ traveled south to save lives and property.”

The importance of amateur-radio operators isn’t lost on local emergency service members. McCrocklin pointed out each of the area hospitals has a spot at which hams set up during emergencies.

The June 22-23 event, called a field day, is the culmination of the American Radio Relay League’s “Amateur Radio Week.” Across the country, more than 35,000 hams are expected to participate in the event.

The amateur-radio operators will demonstrate the latest in digital, satellite and voice communications. They might even give people a look at Morse code, which at one time was the high-tech manner of communicating.

The event is open to the public. Anybody who has an interest in amateur radio can learn how to become a ham.

editor@thepicayune.com