By ERIC CRAVEY, Times West Virginian
FAIRMONT, W.Va. (AP) — Michael Brickey, 13, has vivid memories of walking down the stairs to watch his grandfather work on his ham radio equipment.
“I remember, I was 6 or 7 years old and I was going down the stairs. That’s probably one of the earliest memories I have of that house is that he was doing radio. It shows how well he does,” Michael said.
Michael, who lives in Grayson, Kentucky, became an amateur radio student under the tutelage of his grandfather, Tom Weaver, of Ashland, Kentucky.
“I plan to get my license this year, so that’s good practice,” Michael said.
In late June, Weaver and Michael traveled to Fairmont from Bluegrass State where they participated in annual field exercises sponsored by the Fairmont-based Mountaineer Amateur Radio Association and the American Radio Relay League. About 24 ham operators camped from Friday to Sunday on a 1.5 acre site on a hill off East Grafton Road and Williams Crossroads Way for the event.
“I’ve worked with these guys since 1977,” Weaver said. “It’s a multi-faceted weekend.”
This is a fun event where radio amateurs from the United States and Canada try to see how many long-distance contacts they can make with other radio amateurs from Saturday 2:00 p.m. to Sunday 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time last week. -end of June.
The event also serves as a way to bring new member ham operators into the fold and help existing members hone their communication skills in the event they are called upon to assist in a natural disaster or disaster. other disaster involving emergency management.
“It tests our ability to prepare for emergencies, in the event that we need to mobilize and set up a station, in the event of a power outage or disaster, we would be able to help local authorities to emergency management,” said MARA President Steve. Wilson, of Fairmont.
Wilson became interested in amateur radio when he was a freshman at East Fairmont High. While in high school, he met Weaver through ham radio, who was growing up in Buckhannon. The two became friends and continued to work in amateur radio while attending West Virginia University.
“I started in 1970,” Wilson said. “I got my basic license back then, it was called a novice license, and I’ve only missed a few years since the late 70s.”
This year’s goal was to make 800 contacts using Morse code. In one year, the club made just over 1,000 contacts.
“You can have fun and do as little (contact) as you want or try to do as much as you want,” Wilson said.
Jason Roberts, 43, of Fairmont, participated in his first Field Day this year after earning his ham operator license in March. He joined because he can’t remember a time when he wasn’t fascinated by radio.
“When I was a kid, I loved picking up long-distance stations — AM, shortwave, FM,” Roberts said. “Since then, I have been fascinated by it. There is a magic in radio that fascinates me. It never gets boring.
Roberts tried his hand at communicating with other hams using the club’s new digital equipment. A laptop was installed to the left of a table connected to an analog transmitter. To the right of the table is a second laptop on which Roberts logged the contacts he created in special tracking software. He types specific codes.
“CQ means we call. FD stands for Field Day. W8SP is the club’s call sign,” Roberts said.
He receives thanks from ham operators in Puerto Rico, Texas and eastern Washington.
Wilson jokingly points out that Field Day is not a contest. All of the awards that are given out are more like “atta-boy” awards than prizes, he said.
“It’s always a successful event,” Wilson said. “It’s not a competition. We sometimes think of this as a contest, but the state of West Virginia awards a prize to the station that makes the most contacts.
To learn more about MARA and amateur radio, visit the club’s website at www.w8sp.org.
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