Ham radio operators to share their hobby

Sending out signals across airwaves globally, local hobbyists will showcase their telegraphy skills this weekend with the magic of radio.

“It really is like magic to take your voice or your code key and talk with someone clear around the world,” said Jim Huggins, of Devola, on Friday.

Huggins is the treasurer of the Marietta Amateur Radio Club which will be set up Saturday and Sunday at Jackson Hill Park in Marietta with generators, antenna, wiring and a canteen to make contact with other ham radio operators on every continent.

“We’ll have wires, generators, antennas, transceivers and be up here welcoming the public from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. to show them how it’s operated for a hundred years,” said Ralph Matheny, 73, of Marietta, as he began to set up at the park Friday. “This began back around 1912 and really grew in the ’20s thanks to amateurs like me, we’re called hams.”

And in the 1930s and ’40s, he said, the communications across the airwaves grew and eventually contributed to the war efforts.

“Telegraphers were used in World War II extensively, many amateurs donating their equipment and quartz–that was hard to come by back then,” Matheny explained. “Even the communications out of Pearl Harbor were built by an amateur and the government bought from him one of his transmitters and installed it in Hawaii.”

Huggins has enjoyed the airwaves as a means of connecting with people at every corner of the earth.

“The most exciting was talking with someone on a ship who was German. He kept sending me numbers, and I figured out those were longitude and latitude, and he was a merchant mariner,” explained Huggins. “He was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and he was telling me about what they were doing. But I’ve also talked with Japanese, and even the Cubans–who were very guarded and wouldn’t even comment on what the weather was like–and talked with people down in Venezuela, too.”

Huggins said in his ventures on air, those conversations have covered the kinds of equipment each operator has, the local weather and family.

“But Saturday will move too rapidly for that,” explained Matheny. “We’ll exchange call signs, classifications and the state but it moves pretty fast. I’ll make 850 to 900 contacts while I’m on.”

While at the park, the club will also have flyers and information for those interested in getting into amateur radio. The event is free and open to the public.

If you go:

• What: Ham Radio Field Day.

• Where: Jackson Hill Park, Marietta.

• When: 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

• Why: Experience the emergency radio communication in its original form with local amateur radio operators.

• Cost: Free and open to the public.

Source: Ralph Matheny.