Ham radio fans gather at county fairgrounds

Ham radio fans gather at county fairgrounds

By Kathleen Clark

CARLINVILLE (Aug. 9, 2018) – Amateur radio enthusiasts from across the region met at the Macoupin county Fairgrounds for Hamfest 2018 this past Saturday. The annual event is held to give local members of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) a chance to match their radio call signs to some faces, as well as see the latest advancements of Ham radio technology.

Radio operators in attendance often identified themselves by their call signs rather than names. Lou “K9LL” Bartels of the Montgomery Count ARC said Hamfest is an “Eyeball QSO” and gives people a chance to put a face to the voices they hear over the radio.

Bartels said many people were excited to hear the keynote speaker Tim Moloney “N9RPM.” He was one of the Fabulous 50 who helped establish communications last year after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Vicky Whitiaker, “KD9BAU”, the ARRL Illinois Section Public Information Coordinator, said Hamfest is a great chance for people to see all the different aspects of radio. Indeed, there was something from every era of radio on display throughout the day. Vicky’s husband, Roger, found a radio transmitter used by the famous Navajo Code Talkers during World War II to add to his collection. There was a little bit of everything; digital radios and manual radios alongside miniature drones and military equipment.

If this Hamfest seemed bigger than usual, that’s because it was. Four area clubs combined to sponsor the event this year; the Montgomery county ARC, Macoupin County ARC, Okaw Valley ARC and the Sangamon Valley Radio Club.

To add to the festivities, the Pana High School students displayed their solar powered car. The car traveled 379 miles to finish fifth in the Classic Division at this summer at the Solar Car Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. Visitors were also able to see one of the 16 Unified Command Posts in the state and its 40-foot inflatable radio tower. These posts aid in communications during disasters and extreme events. One of the ARCH Air Medical Service’s helicopters made a stop at Hamfest too.

Ham radio operators, another name for amateur radio operators, can be found across the world and use radio as a form of communication. These operators communicate this way as a hobby and often provide service to their communities during emergencies and special events.

1. Hamfest 2018 was sponsored by four area radio clubs. Amateur radio operators from across the region took advantage of the event to visit with each other in person, share their hobby with each other, and attend radio workshops.

2. A young technology enthusiast shows off his miniature drones at Hamfest 2018 which was held at the Macoupin County Fairgrounds on Saturday.

3. Pana High School students brought their award winning solar car to Hamfest 2018 at the Macoupin County fairgrounds. The car raced in the 2018 Solar Car Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.

4. Radio equipment from every era could be found on display and for sale at this year’s Hamfest which was held at the Macoupin County Fairgrounds last weekend.

5. One of the state’s Unified Command Posts, used for emergency communications, was on display during Hamfest 2018 at the Macoupin County Fairgrounds.