(Posted May 15, 2020)
While some folks have spent their Stay-At-Home time glued to the television, reading, or playing board games, members of the Madison County Amateur Radio Club have been honing their communications skills.
The club, made up of federally licensed amateur radio operators (hams) in Madison County and other central Ohio counties, has reached out to other area ham operators, offering a nightly mix of entertainment, fun, and technical programs to help put the time to good use.
For years, the club has conducted a weekly Tuesday evening net using its amateur radio repeater system. The net involves over-the-air discussions, with each ham transmitting from his or her home station moderated by a designated net control station.
After the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and Gov. Mike DeWine’s Stay-At-Home order, the weekly net became a near nightly “Cabin Fever” net. Most evenings, 20 or more area hams participate. Presentations have covered a variety of topics, including the use of ham radio software, meteor scatter communication, storage battery technology, and antenna law in Ohio. The sessions also have included just-for-fun trivia contests.
Another regular feature of the net relates to Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) preparedness for providing radio communication services in the event of emergencies. Coordinating with state and national ARES activities, the Madison County ARES can provide a wide range of communications services to agencies such as the county and state Emergency Management Agency (EMA), the American Red Cross, area hospitals and other service agencies. In the past, these communications services have provided life-saving resources to many disaster victims, including those affected by Hurricane Katrina and the 9-11 disasters.
The club’s repeater system can be heard at 147.285 MHz, FM. It permits hams even with low-power, handheld radios to reach a distance of 30 to 45 miles from the transmitter site in the county.
The club’s weekly net can be heard at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays. Hams who are properly licensed and who have the necessary radio equipment are welcome to participate in any of the nets. Club membership is not necessary. Listeners are always welcome whether licensed or not. The Cabin Fever net operates on the same frequencies and at the same time.
To learn more about amateur radio and consider becoming licensed, see http://www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio.