GUEST COLUMNIST: Amateur radio operators ham it up outdoors

Keith Baker

Amateur (Ham) Radio is a unique form of communication. It’s both a hobby and a community service.

It could be a school teacher in Sarnia making friends over the radio with another Radio Amateur in New Zealand; a Corunna teenager using her computer to upload a chess move through her radio which is then retrieved by a fellow chess fan in Florida, with all of that information sent directly from her home up to an amateur radio space satellite; or a Petrolia-based, over-the-road truck driver in Western Canada contacting Radio Amateurs in a hundred different countries during a single weekend contest using just a small amateur radio transceiver mounted in the cab of their truck.

In particular, Radio Amateurs save lives as part of an emergency communications network, which is one of the most important aspects of Amateur Radio.

In fact, Lambton County’s Amateur Radio Operators have been an official part of the emergency communications plans for the Province of Ontario, Lambton County and the City of Sarnia, as well as for the local chapter of the Canadian Red Cross, for many years.

They also donate their time, talent and unique communications skills as trained storm spotters for Environment Canada during local severe weather outbreaks.

It’s this unique mix of fun, convenience and public service that distinguishes Amateur Radio from other hobbyists.

The Sarnia-area group of Hams formed the non-profit Lambton County Radio Club (LCRC) in 1982. Our purpose is to promote and foster Amateur (Ham) Radio, electronic experimenting, short wave listening and computer science, as well as to foster the exchange of such information and camaraderie in the local area.

What’s more, an all-volunteer team of Hams from the local club will once again be holding a free demonstration of their emergency communications capabilities for the public at Krall Park in Enniskillen Township, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 28th, and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 29th.

The USA-based American Radio Relay League sponsors this annual on-air event, called “Field Day”. Last year, the event attracted well over 30,000 Amateur Radio Operators from all over North America who were using thousands of temporary Amateur Radio stations to communicate.

More information about the Lambton County Radio Club and their Field Day activities can be found at: www.ve3sar.org.

 Keith Baker is treasurer and past president of the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT) and webmaster of the Lambton County Radio Club