HAM RADIO: Members of the Pearl River County Amateur Radio Club are conducting test sessions throughout the area to prepare for hurricane season and attract more members. Photo by Jeremy Pittari
HAM RADIO: Members of the Pearl River County Amateur Radio Club are conducting test sessions throughout the area to prepare for hurricane season and attract more members.
Photo by Jeremy Pittari

Archived Story

Local amateur radio operators prepare for hurricane season

Published 7:00am Friday, July 4, 2014

With hurricane season in full swing, amateur radio operators have been holding practice sessions throughout Pearl River County.

After Hurricane Katrina amateur radio operators were some of the only people that still had electronic communication with the outside world.

David Bugos, vice president of the Pearl River County Amateur Radio Club, said they hold these practices, the most recent was held on Saturday in Picayune, to let the community know the service they can provide.

The 40 member club sets up shop at a remote location and, using no public power, run their radios through a number of tests. Powering up their set is accomplished with two large solar panels connected to a number of interconnected car batteries.

Bugos said the set up is capable of producing enough electricity to power the radios since the solar panels are capable of producing 50 volts in full sunlight, but the power is regulated to 12 volts to prevent damage to the equipment.

Radios range in cost.  A handheld device with one frequency can be purchased for about $50, and has a range of about 40 miles if a repeater is nearby and operational. Without a repeater the range is about 10 miles at most.

A larger mobile unit is available for $200 to $250, but provides a range that can reach Florida, Bugos said.

If the money is available, amateur radio operators can purchase a larger unit for about $2,000 that will let them talk with people all over the world.

In the instance of a disaster or other emergency situation amateur radio operators can help share information about current conditions or needs by speaking with personnel at the Emergency Operations Center, Bugos said.

“When a crisis occurs we join hands,” Bugos said.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Pearl River County Amateur Radio Club can visit their Facebook page or their website at w5pms.org.

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