Stray Signals

How HAM radio operators are your friends | – The Record

A recent radio conversation between two HAMs raised a disturbing issue that surprised both of them.

The conversation involved the National Traffic Service (NTS) that uses amateur radio operators throughout the United States to relay information during large-scale emergencies, such as earthquakes.

When phone connections are down, residents in stricken areas want to contact relatives outside the area. HAM radio operators offer this volunteer service to anyone able to come to their locations

One of the HAMs in the above conversation stated that sometimes in calling people with such information, he is met with suspicion and even hostility. Is he a telemarketer? Is he a drug dealer? Or worse yet, is he a terrorist?

Surprisingly, most people haven’t even heard of amateur radio. If they have, they consider it an obsolete technology. HAMs still perform many services for their communities by providing communications for large sports events, parades, and point-of-delivery vaccination operations.

In Carson Valley, Sierra Intermountain Emergency Radio Association (SIERA) has stepped in during last winter’s floods. Many members also work through CERT, DCART and other emergency organizations to provide assistance, either at the 911 call center or in setting up the Red Cross shelter for residents of a Gardnerville mobile home park.

Summer is especially busy for SIERA. During all the bicycle marathons, the Pony Express Re-Ride and the Nevada Day Parade, radio operators set up remote stations to relay progress or emergency information. These communications are vital to the safety of participants in remote areas.

Occasionally, a HAM will come upon a roadside emergency in a cell phone dead zone. Reaching for his mobile unit mic, the HAM can call out to another HAM and ask them to call 911. This often happens in our mountainous regions where recreationists sometimes need assistance.

For some reason, though, public resistance to HAM radio operations makes it difficult to set up a residential station. HOAs in particular, as well as planning departments, test the perseverance and creativity of HAMs as they navigate what seem like arbitrary and hostile regulations for setting up towers, antennas, and other paraphernalia on their properties.

Decades ago, HAM stations often created interference with neighbors’ TVs and other electronic devices. Radio technology has improved to the point where many times such interference is caused by faulty wiring or equipment of the offended party. The FCC

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