Pearl River County Amateur Radio Club celebrates Worldwide Communications Day

Published 5:08 pm Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Pearl River County Amateur Radio Club hosted its First Annual Field Day in honor of the Worldwide Communications Day at the Poplarville City Park on Saturday.

The field day activities lasted until noon Sunday.

PRCARC President Max McCumber said approximately 11 licensed operators were on-hand throughout the 24 hour period to provide assistance to the general public interested in attempting to communicate via ham radio.

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There were four different radios being used for communications at the event: a Morse code machine, a VHF unit, a unit for voice transmissions, and a unit for providing information for the general public.

Club Vice-president Larry Wagoner said some of the purposes of the day’s activities were to inform the general public about ham radio, its many uses, and the ease with which it can be set up and used.

“We’d like to be able to demonstrate the ability of ham radio to be used for emergency communications,” Wagoner said. “Ham radio is different because of its design. You can give us a piece of wire and a generator and we can use it to talk around the world.”

Wagoner said that while most communications were down after Hurricane Katrina, ham radio operators were able to communicate because of how easy a ham radio is to use. Workers from various public service offices such as the Red Cross, the Department of Human Services and local fire stations have joined the radio club and are taking classes, Wagoner said, because of the fact that ham radio can operate when all other communications are down.

Not only is ham radio operational when other communications fail, but the components used to talk with ham radio are easy to come by and can be found almost anywhere.

“You can get everything you need at the Lowe’s or Home Depot,” Wagoner said.

The club is associated with the National Weather Service and provides ground spotters for Skywarn, which is a national organization of individuals who watch and report weather conditions.

About 100 people attended the field day over the course of the two days, McCumber said. Several different countries and all states except for Nevada and Alaska were contacted, McCumber said.

Jack Beith, a club member, said he has picked up broadcasts from around the world, including Japan, Germany, Russia, China and Madagascar.

There is no language barrier, Beith said, because English is the universal ham radio language.

“They all speak English, some of them better than we do,” Beith said.

There is also no age limit, Wagoner said. “It’s great for all ages because it’s so easy.”

A lot of families get involved with ham radio because it makes for great family fun, Wagoner said.

Roger Aubert, club treasurer, said the club meets the first Tuesday and the third Saturday of every month. The club also offers classes to those wishing to learn to operate ham radios.

For more information about the field day or the Poplarville Amateur Radio Club, contact Carolyn Nelson at (601) 795-3058, or club president Max McCumber at (601) 795-2331.