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Ham Clubs : Amateur Radio Operators Get a Handle on a Hobby

June 30, 1988|RUTH CRISMAN

QST, QST, QST, calling all ham operators!

On the road, you can often identify them by their personalized license plates

their call numbers.

In Greater Los Angeles, about 1,000 hams drive the freeways with their Handy Talkies, ready to report emergencies. Other hams monitor their calls and contact the CHP, fire department or police.

Hams communicate by voice, computer or Morse code. They sometimes send and receive signals via satellites, or even bounce them off the moon.

During a recent National Field Day, an annual event, hams met at sites across the United States to practice emergency communications. For 24 hours it was assumed that a disaster had knocked out electrical power utilities. Thousands of radio stations were set up in trailers, RVs and mobile rigs nationwide.

Phineas J. Icenbice Jr. is section manager for Los Angeles County of the American Radio Relay League. One function of the group is to set up emergency civilian communications during disasters. During the huge Mexico earthquake of September, 1985, for example, the group helped people locate stranded relatives.

Besides a variety of general-purpose and public-service groups, there is Radioclub Latino-Americano in North Hollywood, Handy Hams (handicapped groups) and clubs involved in weather and earthquake watches. Many clubs offer licensing courses at little or no charge.

It's not difficult to get a ham radio amateur license. Books and magazines on the subject are available at radio stores.

The hobby is not very expensive; a basic receiver might cost as little as $200.

To qualify for the novice license, an operator must have knowledge of basic electronics, FCC rules and regulations and the ability to transmit Morse code at five words a minute.

For a prospective-ham packet, contact the American Radio Relay League, Department Q, 225 Main St., Newington, Conn. 06111. For a list of classes and exams given in Southern California, contact Joseph A. Cira, affiliated club coordinator of ARRL Referral service, 3075 Oneida St., Pasadena, Calif. 91107, or telephone (818) 584-9071 (evenings).

In addition, Gordon West's Radio School, 2414 College Drive, Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626, (714) 549-5000, has trained many amateur radio operators.

The best way to start is to visit a nearby radio club. Guests are welcome. Here's a sampling of places where you can develop the ham in you.

Associated Radio Amateurs of Long Beach Inc. (ARALB), P.O. Box 7493, Long Beach, Calif. 90807. Meets first Friday of the month, 7:30 p.m., Signal Hill Community Center, 1708 E. Hill St., Signal Hill. Contact Harry Goldstick, (213) 866-1309.

The club's station is the Queen Mary's wireless room, which the members restored and which is a special attraction to visitors of the Long Beach ship. ARALB members and other hams monitor the station daily, contacting individuals all over the world and helping out in emergencies. The club's QSL card (Morse code for "can you acknowledge receipt?") is highly prized because of its large size and because it contains pictures and facts about the ship.

Downey Amateur Radio Club (DARC), S. Middle School, 12500 S. Birchdale St., Downey, Calif. Meets first Thursday of the month, 7 p.m. Contact Ralph Jump, (213) 869-6683, or Leon Emerson, (213) 862-1961. It also has a year-round radio school; for reservations call Ken Wahrenbrock, (213) 803-6045.

Covering Santa Fe Springs, South Gate, Norwalk and Pico Rivera, members of DARC monitor emergency calls through their stations at the Downey Police and Fire departments. They also participate in parades, marathons and many social events.

Ladies Amateur Radio Assn. of Orange County (LARA). Breakfast meeting first Saturday of the month, 9:30 a.m., Jolly Roger Restaurant, Buena Park Mall, 8376 La Palma Ave., Buena Park. For membership information, contact Kathy Brown (KA6NLP) at (714) 991-0929 evenings or weekends, or write to her at 1316 Rosewood Place, Anaheim, Calif. 92805.

The club, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary, also has members in Downey, Whittier, Long Beach and other parts of eastern Los Angeles County. Their fund-raising projects have benefited battered and abused children, stroke victims at St. Jude's Hospital, Guide Dogs for the Blind and other charities.

San Fernando Valley ARC Inc. New site is Air National Guard Station, 15900 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys. Meets on third Friday of the month, 7:30 p.m. Pre-registration exams or club mail is via P.O. Box 3151, Van Nuys, Calif. 91407. Contact Larry Etter, (818) 366-9855, or Mike Stuber, afternoons, (818) 988-7165.

This is an all-around club emphasizing social activities, speakers and radio communications. Amateur radio classes are free and are held at 7 p.m. every Friday (except the third Friday); call for class site.

San Gabriel Valley Radio Club (SGVRC), P.O. Box 88, Monrovia, Calif. 91016. Meets the first Tuesday of every month except December, 7:30 p.m., at the Community Center, Arcadia Park, 405 S. Santa Anita Ave., Arcadia. Contact Jim Paquin, (818) 447-6541.

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