KARC makes contact

NAWILIWILI — The visit by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. counted for extra points, and making contact with Steve Thatcher in Alaska counted for more points, Dick Olsen of the Kauai Amateur Radio Club said Saturday at the Nawiliwili Yacht Club facility.

KARC was participating in the national Amateur Radio Field Day, earning points for making contact, being visited by elected officials, hosting educational exhibits, and even participating in the exam session at the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative conference room.

“We send invitations to dignitaries such as elected officials, the head of Civil Defense, and other key people,” Olsen said. “This is part of the national competition. When they show up, like Mayor Carvalho did, it counts toward extra points. Of course, the key objective is to make contact, and talking to Steve in Alaska is another toward points. We also get points for having educational displays like the one led by Tad Miura who had about seven people.”

Thatcher, in a KARC release, said amateur radio, sometimes known as ham radio, operates independent of the Internet or cell phone infrastructure. It has the ability to interface with tablets and smartphones and can be set up almost anywhere.

“That is the beauty of amateur radio during a communications outage,” Thatcher said. “Ham radio operators can literally throw a wire in a tree for an antenna, connect it to a battery-powered transmitter, and communicate halfway around the world by using a layer of Earth’s atmosphere as a kind of mirror for radio waves.”

Allen Kapali was rummaging through the yard sale of goods benefiting the KARC at the Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor.

“We used this for a fox hunt,” the retired firefighter said, holding up a home-made directional antenna utilizing PVC pipes and a tape rule. “You rotate it until you get the strongest signal and follow it until you find the fox. We had this one heading to Ahukini, and when we got there, it pointed across the water to Hanamaulu.”

Miura said the classes he hosted were geared primarily for people who had just gotten their radio license.

“When you first get your license, it can be quite challenging to get past the license to actual operation,” Miura said. “At least, that’s how it was for me. There are things to learn, such as etiquette and safety. By offering the class, it gives new amateur radio operators a good head start into getting off the ground. Getting information on amateur radio is hard to get, and it’s good to have a mentor. We were all new at one time.”

Miura said in addition to the short morning class, there was an exam session going on.

“These are held once a quarter by volunteer examiners from the FCC,” Miura said. “These are the same people who do the licenses.”

Miura said KARC has about 50 members.

If a situation arises, the Civil Defense contacts a KARC contact individual who then notifies members.

“We’re activated by the Civil Defense,” Miura said. “From there, we take shifts at the Emergency Operating Center until the situation is done.”

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