The Richmond Register

Lifestyles & Community

June 24, 2014

Madison County ‘radio hams’ in national deployment

Public demo Saturday, Sunday at Camp Catalpa

RICHMOND — Madison County “hams” will join thousands of amateur radio operators around the country this weekend in showing off their emergency capabilities.

The Central Kentucky Amateur Radio Society (CKARS) will be demonstrating communications from 2 p.m. Saturday to 2 p.m. Sunday at Camp Catalpa Park on the west shore of Lake Reba off Irvine Road.

The public is invited to see ham radio’s new capabilities and learn how to get their own Federal Communications Commission radio license before the next disaster strikes.

Over the past year, the news has been full of reports of ham radio operators providing critical communications during unexpected emergencies in towns across America including the California wildfires, winter storms, tornadoes and other events, according to a news release from the group.

During Hurricane Katrina, amateur radio  — also called “ham radio” — was often the only way people along the Gulf Coast could communicate; and hundreds of volunteer “hams” traveled south to help save lives and property.

When trouble is brewing, amateur radio’s people are often the first to provide rescuers with critical information and communications.

This weekend, the public will have a chance to meet and talk with local ham radio operators and see what the Amateur Radio Service is about. Showing the newest digital and satellite capabilities, voice communications and even historical Morse code, hams from across the country will be conducting public demonstrations of emergency communications abilities.

This annual event, called “Field Day,” is the climax of the week-long Amateur Radio Week sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the national association for amateur radio. Using only emergency power supplies, ham operators will construct emergency stations in parks, shopping malls, schools and backyards around the country.

Their slogan, "When All Else Fails, Ham Radio Works” is more than just words to the hams as they prove they can send messages in many forms without the use of phone systems, internet or any other infrastructure that can be compromised in a crisis. More than 35,000 amateur radio operators across the country participated in last year's event.

“We hope that people will come and see for themselves, this is not your grandfather's radio anymore,” said Clayton Bond, KJ4YLR, CKARS president. “The communications that ham radio people can quickly create have saved many lives when other systems failed or were overloaded. And besides that – it’s fun!”

To learn more about amateur radio, go to


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