Members of the Cass County Amateur Radio Club joined thousands of other ham radio operators across the county and Canada Saturday to test their communications skills in a competition that will last through this afternoon.
The club set up shop in the Cass County Emergency Management Agency yesterday and began manning radios, attempting to contact other amateur radio operators across the country and Canada. A point is awarded for each successful contact that is made and the team with the most points by 2 p.m. today is declared the winner.
“We’re in it for fun though,” said Phil Snider, the club’s president, adding that last year the club scored a total of about 400 contacts.
Snider said he was expecting about 50 to 60 of the club’s members to come out for the cookout Saturday evening, with members coming in and out throughout the night and into today to man the five stations they set up at the agency.
Snider estimated the club has participated in the event ever since the club was started, which he said was about 60 years ago.
Besides providing an outlet for club members to engage in their hobby, Snider said the competition also lets them know what the county’s emergency communications status is.
“It helps us find out what works and what to fix,” he said.
Tom Denton, a member of the club, agreed.
“There’s a lot of trouble shooting in this hobby,” he said. “That’s part of the fun — tracking things down and fixing them.”
Snider said he feels its important to preserve skills in communications that rely on radio and microwave transmissions for when emergencies occur, which can result in jammed cellular phone service and damaged modern communications towers.
Equipment like the kind the club set up for the competition, Snider said, can be set up quickly and easily and can provide much-needed communication during times of an emergency.