The Sedalia Pettis Amateur Radio Klub (SPARK) participated in the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) Field Day on Saturday,  an annual event that takes place on the fourth weekend of June.

A handful of club members gathered behind Our Savior Lutheran Church, 3700 West Broadway, for about eight hours of contacting other ham radio operators in the US and Canada.

The club utilized a generator to power their equipment for the day. Most all have base units at home they use on a daily basis.

Paul Withers, former SPARK president, explained the reason behind the exercise.

“Amateurs bring our their “go equipment” basically, their emergency equipment, if something was to happen, if a repeater went down, we could help the police, fire, EMS, EMA, communicate with radio equipment if all their equipment went down,” Withers said.

“That's what happened in Joplin 2011 when they had the big tornado. Ham radio was there to pick it up,” he said.

“It's easy to 'get the bug' and delve into the world of ham radio,” Withers noted.

The purpose of the club, founded in 1935, is to get people interested and involved in emergency radio. “And it's fun,” Withers admitted.
“You can get into ham radio for as little as $30 up to thousands,” he noted. You can start where you want, and spend as much as your wife will allow."

When asked if their experience is limited to English-speaking countries, Withers responded that “it's easier.”

The hardest ones to understand, Withers said, are the Japanese, the Asians. The most fun to listen to are the Australians, the New Zealanders and the Irish.

Withers also noted that you have to have a working knowledge of the various bands (frequencies) that amateur radio enthusiasts use.

“Some of them go further than other bands. And so you have to know which bands work better during the day. Some bands work better at night. These are all things you learn,” said Withers, who has been a member of SPARK since 2008.

“My wife works weekends, so a lot of times I get to talk on weekends, whereas other times I don't.”

For more information, visit arrl.org/field-day or visit their facebook page.