Stray Signals

Local ham radio group takes part in national exercise – Union Democrat

For more information about amateur radio and field day events in Sugarpine, contact Crabtree at or (916) 271-1991or visit and online.

Roots of amateur radio date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, more than a hundred years ago, and locals here in the Mother Lode, up and down California, and all over the rest of the planet are still doing it.

They call themselves hams and ham radio operators and amateur radio operators, and they are in downtown Sonora and up in Mi-Wuk and Sugarpine and over in Calaveras County, too. They don’t just listen to radio, they use radio to talk back and communicate with each other and the rest of the world.

For more information about amateur radio and field day events in Sugarpine, contact Crabtree at or (916) 271-1991or visit and online.

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Amateur radio operators have also helped out during disasters and emergencies like the 2013 Rim Fire and the 2018 Donnell Fire. Radio communications technology has improved in recent decades, so local law enforcement and fire agencies do not rely on amateur radio operators as much as they used to. But they are still able to play key roles during disasters, Liz Peterson, coordinator for the Tuolumne County office of emergency services, said Tuesday in a phone interview.

How it works

Most of us think of radio and we picture the knobs we turn on the dashboards in our cars, to listen to music and news and talk. The radios we go buy in the store are really just radio receivers.

Amateur radio people use radio transmitters, combined with receivers, which they call transceivers, said Ned Sudduth, 49, a resident of Phoenix Lake whose radio call sign in N4NED.

The planet, our solar system, and the rest of the universe are populated by electromagnetic waves and radio spectrums that existed in time before humans came to be here on Earth. The waves and spectrums have to do with radiation that comes from the sun and other stars.

Historians say it was more than 115 years ago in December 1901 when a radio pioneer named George Marconi used radio waves to receive the very first known wireless trans-Atlantic Morse code transmission, sent from south Cornwall in England to Signal Hill, Newfoundland.

Federal licensing of radio waves, radio stations, radio communications, and amateur radio operators started in 1912 with an act of Congress, called the Radio Act of 1912, Sudduth said.

These days the Tuolumne County Amateur Radio Electronics Society, who call themselves TCARES, have 100 members and there are more than 400 licensed hams in the county, Sudduth said.

Hearing people in outer space

“We can listen to astronauts in space with our antennas,” Sudduth said. “It takes

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