Amateur radioers make nearly 200 contacts in 24 hours

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 1, 2014

When a hurricane or other natural disaster strikes and communication lines are down, there’s one group who can keep the lines of communication open – amateur radio enthusiasts.

Last week marked amateur radio week and the South Alabama Radio Club held an emergency drill over the weekend, at the Sweet Home Alabama Campground at Pt. A.

John Brown, of the South Alabama Radio Club, said during the weekend, the group made 195 contacts.

“Out of the contacts, 171 were in the continental U.S., eight in Canada, three in Hawaii, two in Puerto Rico, two in Ukraine, one in Belgium, Cuba, Italy, Jamaica, New Zealand, the Panama Canal, Uruguay, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Venezuela,” he said.

Additionally, Brown said they were able to talk to 41 states.

Brown said it is difficult to get Hams in states such as Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska and neighboring states.

“There are two reasons for this,” he said. “The population is scarce and there are not a lot of Hams there.”

Brown said the amateur radio operators function entirely on emergency power – meaning batteries and generators.

“We operate this exercise for 24 hours to see how many contacts we can make in 24 hours,” he said. “All of our antennas are homemade with a No. 12 wire and a piece of coaxial.”

Brown said there were seven total operators who participated.

Brown said the antennas used are the same ones that will be used if they are deployed during a natural disaster.

Brown said the last time they were deployed was in 2004 during Hurricane Ivan, but they often set up and make contact with the state and the National Weather Service during severe weather.

Anyone interested in joining the club can attend a meeting on the third Thursday of the month at the Andalusia Public Library at Dixon Room at 7 p.m.