Ham radio course offered

To the editor:

The Adirondack Amateur Radio Association, which provides the north-central Adirondacks with emergency communications resources, will be conducting a free 2.5-day training course leading to Federal Communications Commission Amateur Radio Technician Class License March 27 and 30 and April 6 at the Adirondack Medical Center (Saranac Lake). Classes are held in the Redfield Board Room from 5 to 8 p.m. on the 27th and 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the 30th and April 6.

Community members looking for an interesting and engaging way to get involved with a community service organization, and particularly those who venture into the backcountry on a regular basis, should consider becoming licensed amateur (ham) radio operators.

Ham radios reach where cellphones fail, including much of the Adirondack backcountry. Today’s handheld ham radios can utilize the Adirondack region’s extensive network of mountaintop repeaters, including those on Whiteface, Blue Mountain, Lyon Mountain and Rand Hill, and in Tupper Lake, Mineville and many others. Today’s handheld radios can be programmed to monitor the National Weather Service, Department of Environmental Conservation rangers, Coast Guard, ski patrols and other first responders. Recent headlines remind us that the backcountry can be a dangerous environment. Ham radio at high altitude may provide the only means of good communications back to family, friends and emergency response.

As an important communications tool in an emergency, ham operators link communities across the county and across the country. Be it Hurricane Michael, 9/11, DEC search and rescue, or our own ice storm, cellphones can fail, but ham radio operators were on the scene providing vital communications between first responding units and emergency operations centers. The local Amateur Radio Association trains year-round, including providing communications for the Tinman and Ironman, and Round the Mountain and 90-Miler canoe races.

Getting your first license is easy and affordable. Morse code is no longer required, and new handheld amateur-band radios are available for under $30. This free course will teach you everything you need to know to pass the 35-question FCC license test. You can be on the air by April 15. The advance registration deadline is March 22 and is required. Study material is available from AARA, and advance preview of course material is highly recommended. There is a returnable $25 deposit to save your seat for the course and the a $15 fee to sit for the test (non-refundable).

For more information, please contact Barry Brogan, Adirondack Amateur Radio Association, at bx3rjh@gmail.com.

Barry B. Brogan

Saranac Lake