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Radio club to ‘HAM’ it up this weekend

Published: Friday, June 21, 2013 11:27 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, June 21, 2013 11:42 a.m. CST
(Submitted Photo)
Ray Wagoner (front left) makes a computer-sent Morse Code Contact at a past Newton Amateur Radio Association's Field Day as his sisters and grandpa Chuck (back) look on. John Wickenkamp (right) watches with approval.

This weekend is the fourth weekend in June, which is nationally known as “Field Day” for amateur radio clubs across America. The event starts on Saturday at 1 p.m.  and goes 24 hours straight until Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Newton Amateur Radio Association, Inc. is participating and will set-up shop at Woodland Park shelter house.

“One of the main activities of the club, besides emergency communications, is the annual Field Day operation,” NARA president John Nelson said. “That is a national operation of about 2,300 radio clubs like us.”

“We all try to take to the field with generators, portable antennas and equipment,” Nelson said. “We try to talk to as many different stations as we can.”

NARA, which is celebrating 76 years in Newton, started as an outgrowth the of YMCA’s HAM radio club Nelson said. He said they joined the National Amateur Radio Association, which created Field Day, in 1937.

Field Day is a chance for the clubs across the nation to test their equipment and try to best each other in competition.

“There is a geographical (category),” Nelson said. “We won one transmitter first place Midwest division, which was Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. We’ve done that three times since 1950. Usually we win our class in Iowa without any problems.”

“The last seven years, I think,” NARA emergency coordinator Chuck Wagoner said. “For a small club, we do fairly well.”

Support NARA this weekend as it tries to make it eight in a row.

“Everybody that has come out in the past has said things like, ‘I didn’t know this is what it would be like’ or ‘Did you just talk to somebody in New York City?’” Wagoner said. “That’s kind of interesting. Just watching us work the radios and listening to our contacts.”

Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at trushing@newtondailynews.com.