It’s a hobby that often becomes a lifestyle. Many amateur radio enthusiasts spend much of their free time perfecting their craft. By learning the limits of their personal equipment, clear and effective communication over
the airwaves and preparation for emergencies, “ham” radio fans take pride in their skills and abilities.
Many Ramona hams shared their knowledge with local residents recently as part of the yearly Field Day, when they took over a section of Fire Station 82 on Dye Road.
“Ham radio is a good backcountry source of communicating. Many times it’s the only source,” said Don Scott, a ham and longtime member of ROARS, the Ramona Outback Amateur Radio Society. “The idea behind Field Day is to reach as many countries around the world by radio as possible in 24 hours.”
Amid the squelch and monotones of members making contacts over the radio, visitors saw mountains of antennas, radio gear, laptops and food in abundance. More than 50 people attended the event, including three fire captains. Participants included men and woman of all ages with varying degrees of technical knowledge, and many youngsters, some new and others familiar with the hobby.
“We hope to get a few new radio operators on the air and maybe even get them to join our club,” said Scott.
Many members of Boy Scout Troop 768 in Ramona may well become future hams, as they not only provided lighting for the event, but they were thrilled to make radio contacts across the country.
According to Ken Donham, also a longtime ham and club member, watching one youngster make his first radio contact was the highlight of the weekend.
“A mom and her little boy, he was maybe 7 or 8 years old, were working with Don on learning to use the radio equipment,” said Donham. “The mother, already a ham, made numerous contacts. So the boy made some contacts. And then, quite by coincidence, the child made contact with his own father, also a ham, who was elsewhere in the county.”
Several listeners beamed as he recounted the pair’s reaction.
“She jumped with joy and he was tickled to death,” said Donham. Of course, growing up with two hams, he’s gonna remember that contact the rest of his life.”
Ham radio is an effective method of communication during natural disasters and emergencies, and was one of the only means available during the recent wildfires. To learn more about the hobby, visitors are welcome at ROARS meetings, which take place in the Ramona Community Library Community Room, 1275 Main St. on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. Visit www.roars.net to learn more.