County looking for amateur radio operators

Published 5:33 pm Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pearl River County Amateur Radio Club will hold classes this Saturday and next Saturday for people interested in becoming licensed operators.

Vice president Larry Wagoner said he will teach the two classes that will focus on the technician level of amateur radio operation.

Wagoner said there are three certification levels, Technician, General and Amateur Extra. With each level comes increased range and increased access to frequencies.

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The free classes will be held at Picayune Fire Station 1 and will take place all day on both days. A certification test session will be held Aug. 30. The fee to take the certification test is $14, Wagoner said.

The same test can be taken up to two times per day, especially if the score is close to passing, Wagoner said.

“With a little study and work most people can pass without any real problem,” Wagoner said.

Course material will cover the background in radio operations, applicable law, radio theory, electronics theory, safety, antenna design and other related information.

Classes will be taught through a multimedia presentation with power point, question and answer and even hands on demonstrations, Wagoner said. Test questions and their answers will be covered throughout the classes. The test will consist of 35 multiple choice questions.

If licensed technicians decide to move up in certification classification, they can opt to take the other tests at a later date. There is also the option to take all three tests the same day, if the person thinks they have studied enough, Wagoner said.

“They can take as many tests as they want that day. As long as they keep passing them, they’re good to go,” Wagoner said.

If a person has studied sufficiently it’s possible to get all three certifications the same day.

“There actually are recorded cases of people doing that, although it’s kind of rare,” Wagoner said.

Those who may be afraid to take the test because they think that Morse Code is involved can rest easy. Wagoner said the FCC dropped that requirement in February of 2006 because the consensus was that there was no point in requiring it. Still, those dedicated to learning Morse Code can, and many do, Wagoner said.

Amateur radio has many hobbyist applications, such as chatting with people in other areas, emergency communications, digital communication through a computer link up, slow and fast television scanning, and even bouncing signals off of satellites or even the moon, Wagoner said.

With additional training from the National Weather Service, amateur radio operators can become part of the SkyWarn program. SkyWarn uses people on the ground with amateur radio certification to report adverse weather conditions. The additional training ensures those reports are accurate.

Anyone wishing to attend the classes should call Wagoner at 601-590-0553 to make reservations and allow them to make material preperations.