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925Amateur radio club to host fall convention

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  • CHUCK RICH
    Feb 3, 2003
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      Amateur radio club to host fall convention







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      Amateur radio club to host fall convention


      Monday, February 03, 2003

      By Greg Chandler
      The Grand Rapids Press




      HOLLAND -- Amateur radio enthusiasts from across Michigan will gather in Holland this fall for a statewide convention.


      The Holland Amateur Radio Club will host the convention Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, marking the first time the city has hosted such a convention, said Chuck Rich, chairman of the committee that's working to put together the event.

      The convention will be held in conjunction with a "Hamfest" -- essentially a swap meet for dealers, manufacturers and radio operators -- to be held on its second day at Zeeland East High School. In fact, the talk of the convention grew out of the club's plans to hold the Hamfest, which is the first it has held in more than eight years, Rich said.

      "The more talk that went on (about holding the convention), the more we thought that we could make it work," he said.

      The convention will include a banquet on the first night, and will include seminars covering the various aspects of amateur radio, with an emphasis on community service and emergency communications, Rich said.

      The convention is the first of its kind in Michigan in about 10 years, said Deborah Kirkbride, Michigan section manager for the American Radio Relay League, a national organization that represents about 163,000 operators in the United States, 6,000 of whom are in Michigan.

      "The Holland group is doing an outstanding job of putting together this convention," Kirkbride said. "I think it's going to be a very successful event for amateur radio in Holland."

      There are about 300 licensed amateur radio operators in the Holland-Zeeland area, about a fourth of whom are affiliated with the Holland Amateur Radio Club and ARRL, Rich said.

      "It's a hobby of self-tuition," local club President Ken Groom said. "It is an absolutely incredible form of education, of electronics, engineering, all forms of space communication. There are so many facets to this, one can never get bored with it."

      Groom became hooked on shortwave radio as a child growing up in Durban, South Africa. He became an amateur radio operator about 15 years ago.

      One of the appeals of amateur radio is that it doesn't necessarily take a lot of sophisticated equipment or money to become an operator. "A person can enter at any level, from bare-bone basic (transmitters to advanced). There's no limit," Groom said.

      While some of the latest transceivers can cost in excess of $10,000, an operator can make contact with a fellow operator through something as simple as a Morse code key pad, club members say.

      Ham radio operators provide communications for local events such as Holland's Tulip Time, particularly during the festival parades. They also are called on frequently to assist local authorities in severe weather situations, Rich said.

      Each summer, the club takes part in a 24-hour "field day" at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds. The event, held throughout the country, gives radio operators a chance to practice their skills. They simulate emergency conditions where electric power is not available, having to use generators or batteries to power their stations.

      While most of the club's members are longtime radio enthusiasts, there is always room for newcomers. Veteran operators work with new operators through the "Elmer" program, teaching newcomers the basics of amateur radio and helping them get their Federal Communications Commission license.

      The amateur radio club meets the second Tuesday of each month at 7:15 p.m. at Zeeland Community Hospital.

      For more information on

      the convention or the Holland Amateur Radio Club, call

      Rich at 396-2294 or Groom at

      399-8874.










      © 2003 Grand Rapids Press. Used with permission

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