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August 13, 2020

7/2/2020 10:45:00 AM
Field Day for Amateur Radio

By Angela Reiger
The Hidden Valley Amateur Radio Club, consisting of amateur radio operators from the tri-state area, is holding the annual Ham Radio Field Day on June 27 through the 28th starting at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday continuing through 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. This 24-hour event for emergency preparedness is nationwide involving over 35,000 hams across the United States. HVARC will hold the event at the Evangelical Lutheran Church, 200 Broadway St., Platteville, WI.
Attendees will have the opportunity to make radio contact while being supervised by a licensed FCC ham operator. Various stations will be in operation using different methods of communication, such as digital, MORSE code and single sideband, or SSB.
"Field Day is about the biggest event of the year. It's called day and not days because it's a 24 hour period. The idea of that is for us to have the ability to test the ability to get on the air pretty quickly to send messages. If you need ham radio, things are pretty bad, because the police and fire have their own communications, but that is one of the strengths of ham radio and one of the reasons we have pull yet with the government and they let us have valuable frequencies," says Kent Scheuerell, secretary of HVARC. "When other systems, for example during 9/11, get overwhelmed, ham radio is still a means of communication."
HVARC, formed in 1996, has provided a "foundation" for hams in Southwestern Wisconsin, a place for amatuer radio enthusiasts to connect with one another.
According to the American Radio Relay League, "Amatuer radio (ham radio) is a popular hobby and service that brings people, electronics and communication together. People use ham radio to talk across town, around the world, or even into space, all without the internet or cell phones. It's fun, social, educational, and can be a lifeline during times of need."
So who is a typical ham? Well, there is no "typical". The ARRL says, "operators came from all walks of life - doctors, students, kids, politicians, truck drivers, movie stars, missionaries and even your average neighbor next door."
Scheuerell, a former Platteville teacher, has been a ham since he was a kid raised in a family of amatuer radio enthusiasts. "With true ham radio, we take pride in not needing anything except my radio and their radio. It's based on the ionosphere. Right now we are kind of at a low, based on an 11-year cycle. When it's at its peak, it is real easy to get into Europe and places. I've been a ham for 60 years and there have been about 3 times in my lifetime, they call it longwave, and no matter where I aim my antenna, I could get into central Asia. And that is exciting, when you are talking to someone and they are real clear."
Scheuerell has a scrapbook of cards he has received from hams all over the world. "Here are the cards I was talking about. I got those during 9/11, so because of that, I put the Statue of Liberty on it. I remember there was a guy in Turkey, he said something about God bless the United States of America. You usually don't hear that. You don't hear much politics or religion on ham radio. You kind of stay away from it. " Before a person can start communicating on the air, the FCC requires the operator to have a license. This involves passing a test. There are intensive one day classes an individual can take to help prepare. "Almost everyone who takes the class passes the test," says Scheuerell. HVARC offers a free radio with membership once the test is passed to help new members get started. While learning MORSE code is not required, Scheuerell points out it can be helpful when communicating with other countries/languages.
"There are about 25 hams in the area that are on a lot," explains Scheuerell. "Operating once a week. There are about 25 of us that go on every day. It depends. As a youth it was good for me in learning geography and how to talk about nothing. You're talking to someone you don't know, you talk about your equipment maybe, but you ask them questions just like you would anyone else. I am good at small talk."
"We've got a lot of knowledge in the club and about half of them worked in electronics,' says Scheuerell. "The proudest I was of our club was Grant County had a drill and they asked us to be involved in it so we had to get a message to Milwaukee, and they didn't tell us ahead of time what frequency it was going to be on, to get the message to Milwaukee, we couldn't get Milwaukee, but we got a guy in Michigan could talk to the guy in Milwaukee because of the skip in the ionosphere. (Grant County) were real happy we could do that because they were pretending that everybody else's communication wasn't working. It took us about an hour."
There is a great deal of appeal in amaeur radio. Some hams are trained weather spotters, come conduct emergency drills and get training in sending and receiving formal messages. You can talk to anyone from anywhere without a computer or cell phone. Many like to build and try out new electronics and computer buffs enjoy using ham radio for digital communication. Equipment can be quite sophisticated or remain simple.
If you or someone you know may be interested in the Hidden Valley Amateur Radio Club (HVARC), contact President Keith Amdahl (KE1THA) at 563-537-0102 or visit the website at or

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