SCC and KP Amateur Radio Clubs

Ready to Help in a Community Emergency

By Paula Lickfeldt

 

Five days a week, Monday through Friday you can find members of the Sun City Center Amateur Radio Club in their “club room,” which is in the hurricane resistant maintenance building. They will be there, operating around the clock, 24/7, during a disaster.

The SCC Amateur Radio Club has about 70 members that live in SCC, while the King’s Point club has about 80 members that live in KP. The two clubs are collaborative and actually share about 22 “Hams” that overlap and carry dual memberships.  The club meets at 2 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month in the Florida Room.  Yearly dues are $15 per year. To the relief of many, knowledge of Morse Code is no longer a requirement for obtaining any of the three levels of FCC license available to amateur radio club members.

On Monday and Wednesday mornings, the club secretary, Judy Wozniak hosts a nationwide shortwave “net” call (which could be compared to a conference call for clarification). The purpose of these calls is to make sure that all of the equipment is working correctly and can connect to anywhere in the USA, or further.  On Tuesday evening the club tests the VHF to make sure that the local radios in SCC are operating and can connect with each other.  A small handheld VHF radio can be purchased for under $50.

On any weekday between 9 and 11, members of the club are available to talk with residents of the community.  When you go to the club room you will find the gathered members discussing things like, “What will we do if…?”  Dick Hillyer, president of the club, told me that the club has four goals: 1. Enjoyment of the hobby, 2. License training and presentations of interest, 3. Emergency Communications Assistance to the SCC community, and 4. Communication Assistance to support other SCC clubs and events.

The club has four different kinds of equipment; traditional short wave radios which can connect around the world, VHF and UHF which have a shorter range of up to thirty miles.  Signal “Repeaters” two at each club, with antennas on towers and even atop Sun Towers as well as others linked around the East Bay, can connect to any amateur radio this side of Tampa Bay, from Punta Gorda, to Sebring, to Holiday.  The repeater towers can be used to connect a computer to a ham radio which can send a digital packet message or document anywhere.  This can be a very valuable tool for sending messages about missing people, people that are in a certain shelter, or a list of medicines or supplies that are needed by a hospital.

In the case of an emergency or disaster any resident can go to a neighbor’s home that has an orange paper with an old-fashioned telephone on it displayed in the window.  This signifies a member of the Amateur Radio Club, who will be able to help get a message out to a distant family member.  To further its goals, the club recognizes and appreciates those HOAs which make reasonable accommodations to their resident licensed radio members.

In July, VP Richard Wiczalkowski will be teaching a free FCC license class to any resident of SCC who is interested in getting started working with amateur radios.  You can call the Amateur Radio Club to get the date, time and location of the class. www.sccarc.info

Members of the national Amateur Radio League (ARRL) say that “When All Else Fails, Amateur Radio Works” and the SCC and KP Amateur Radio Clubs are available to help.

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