Category Archives: Media

They’ve got your back(up communication): Clovis Amateur Radio Pioneers provide public service, prepare for disasters

By Mariya Zheleva

What would happen if disaster struck? No cell phones, no internet, no power.

How would people communicate?

Enter: Clovis Amateur Radio Pioneers, or CARP for short.

The club is ready to provide communication for any emergency situation, with generators, batteries and ham radios always on hand.

However, CARP isn’t solely around to communicate during disaster. Their skills and equipment also come in handy for events like the California Classic’s running and bicycle events and the March of Dimes’ annual March for Babies walk. Ham radio operators communicate from different points on the course during these walks and bicycle events.

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NPR: Celebrating 100 Years Of Ham Radio
May 26, 2014

Celebrating 100 Years Of Ham Radio

This month marks the centennial of the American Radio Relay League, the largest association of ham radio lobbyists in the United States, which is headquartered in Newington, Conn. That means it will be a special year for the hundreds who converge annually on W1AW, a small station there, known as “the mecca of ham radio,” to broadcast radio signals across the globe.

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Fresno County EMCOMM Makes Debut on Ham Nation

Ham Nation is a weekly podcast produced by TWiT TV (This Week in Technology).  Bob Heil along with Gordon West (WB6NOA), and other various co-hosts and guests, cover the excitement and importance of ham radio – from tossing an antenna wire in a tree allowing you to talk to the world, to the importance of ham radio operators in time of disasters.

In a recent edition of Ham Nation Gordon West shows off a Fresno County EMCOMM bookmark.

Ham radio — a pastime not just in the past

Merced Sun-Star
By Debbie Croft
July 25, 2013

Ham radio — a pastime not just in the past

Amateur radio operators are viewed as a thing of the past, as the history of ham radio dates back to the late 1800s and turn of the century.

These amateurs provided the foundation of modern telecommunications as they experimented with broadcast and two-way radio possibilities.

With today’s advanced wireless technology, amateur radio might have become obsolete. Yet, it hasn’t.

Did you know the first “chat room” was invented by ham radio operators? They communicated across the continents during wartime, and played chess all hours of the day and night. And amateur radio invented social networking.

Amateurs are viewed as public servants and a national resource. It doesn’t look like these guys are going away anytime soon.

Today, radio communication is keeping up with the future, says Tom Margrave, president of the area’s newest chartered amateur radio club in Mariposa.

More than a dozen members participated in emergency communication efforts during the Carstens fire last month.

Dave Swickard is Emergency Coordinator for Mariposa’s Amateur Radio Emergency Service. Utilizing two repeaters — devices that receive and transmit radio communications — between Mariposa and Fresno’s Red Cross Headquarters, radio communication was available to evacuees staying at the shelter at Mariposa Elementary School.

Swickard and group members volunteered that week at the shelter, taking turns operating equipment.

The situation provided valuable on-the-job-training. One thing they learned: switch message traffic to digital modes, to avoid labor-intensive and time-consuming voice transmissions.

Margrave says amateur radio must be technically competent to meet government approval, while filling diverse roles to maintain fellowship with other groups.

In the mountains where manmade or natural disasters can disrupt phone service, and with storms or flooding in the valley, radios serve a purpose when electricity is cut off or cellular networks are down.

During the recent bombing at the Boston Marathon, cell service jammed, but ham radios worked at first-aid stations positioned along the route.

For 59 years, Grady Williams of Atwater has been interested in ham radio. He built his own receiver, and got his license and call sign while in high school. These factors landed him a career with Pacific Telephone Co. in the mid-1950s.

The Turlock Amateur Radio Club started in 1928. Radio Street got its name when members met in a nearby one-room building owned by one of their moms. Williams has been a member for more than 25 years.

Today’s members still connect with other operators around the world, just as operators did 80 years ago. One major difference is, contact can now be made with space stations.

In the 1960s, Williams built another amateur repeater. His was one of only 11 in the entire state. About 10 years later he donated it to the Turlock club, on the condition that they find a suitable site. Soon Williams installed the repeater at Mount Bullion in Mariposa County.

Repeaters also are located on Turtle Dome in Yosemite, and on Buck Rock in Kings Canyon-Sequoia National Park. Another will be placed at Sentinel Dome in Yosemite.

A standalone repeater is located at the Turlock War Memorial for public service activities and emergency backup.

“These systems are networked together via a UHF radio link,” Williams said. “This gives us continuous coverage from Lodi to Tehachapi.”

He remembers when amateur radio was the only way to communicate during Yosemite fires a couple decades ago.

Annual field days are held in various communities each summer. Operators attending spend 48 continuous hours talking to other operators. According to the Amateur Radio Relay League website, the objective of field days is to work as many stations as possible on amateur bands, and to practice operating in abnormal situations and in less than optimal conditions.

For more information about the Mariposa Area Amateur Radio Organization, email Members are required to complete a training process, including first-aid certification. They meet on the fourth Saturday of each month. The group is accepting donations of equipment, and is open to people of all ages.

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at

Fresno Ham Radio Field Day TV Report

By Joe Ybarra
June 24, 2013

Ham radio operators aid wildfire communications

Amateur radio operators around the country set up for a 24-hour shift over the weekend to show the public what it’s all about and how it’s used in an emergency.

Chris Johnson is an amateur radio operator. His skills are somewhat of a lost art, but useful in an emergency situation. “Ham radio is available when all else fails,” said Johnson.

On Sunday, operators around the country turned their radios on. Some, on a mission to make contacts, while others like the Fresno Amateur Radio Club, simply wanted to put on a public demonstration.

Ham radio operator Ron Hunt said, “We move into a site, set up an emergency communication system, self powered with our own generators.”

A similar system was used during the Carstens Fire in the mountains of Mariposa County, where cell phones and the internet aren’t very reliable. “We’re not dependent on cell towers and satellites and things like that. We can actually communicate from person to person directly with our radio equipment.”

Chris Johnson says ham radio operators also helped in Boston, during the marathon and the aftermath following bombings. “Rapidly those amateur radio operators were shifted to an emergency response and they provided communication between medical personnel and first responders,” said Johnson.

Johnson calls it a challenging hobby, the last line of communication. But to the outside world, it’s a public service.

Field day for Fresno’s Amateur Radio Club
June 23, 2013

Field day for Fresno’s Amateur Radio Club

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Fresno’s Amateur Radio Club had a field day Sunday

The club set up a self-sustained field operation in Clovis to communicate with other radio clubs across the country. Field Day is held every year in June as a way to keep communications open with ham radio users.

Organizers say ham radios may be the only way to stay connected with other resources in isolated areas or after natural disasters.

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