Local Ham Operators Participate in National Competition
When Murphy resident, Dick Sander was a Boy Scout, he had to learn Morse code for a radio merit badge. He went to his first ham station in 1957 while working towards this badge, and was hooked. At the age of 14 he got his ham amateur radio operator license. This hobby led him to a career in electronics.
“The word "HAM" as applied to 1908, was the station CALL of the first amateur wireless stations operated by some amateurs of the Harvard Radio Club. They were Albert S. Hyman, Bob Almy and Poogie Murray.” (rfcafe.com)
Sander said, “Over the past years, the news has been full of reports of ham radio operators providing critical communications during unexpected emergencies in towns across America, including the recent Puerto Rico Hurricane. Amateur Radio – often called “Ham radio” - was often the only way people could communicate, and hundreds of volunteer “hams” traveled south to save lives and property. When trouble is brewing, Amateur Radio’s people are often the first to provide rescuers with critical information and communications which includes tornado spotters.”
In 1985, during the 8.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico which killed more than 10,000 people (history.com), Sander relayed health and welfare messages from survivors in Mexico to their family members in the United States. He said that ham radio operators in Mexico would connect with him, provide the phone number of who needed to be reached, and the family members would have a brief conversation conveying their welfare.
Over the years he has made radio contact with every country in the world. He earned the 1 ARRL (national association for amateur radio) DXCC Honor Roll by contacting every country and receiving confirmation. Confirmation comes in the form of a postcard from that station. It took him 20 years to reach that goal.
Seven years ago, he formed Murphy’s Law Field Day Group which currently has six members. He said the members each specialize in different areas of ham radio operations. He said there has been an uptick in ham radio operators in recent years due to the fact that it is no longer a requirement to know Morse code and more clubs offer training.
June 23 – 24, the group will participate in the annual event called "Field Day”. It is the climax of the week long "Amateur Radio Week" sponsored by the ARRL. Sander said, “Using only emergency power supplies, ham operators will construct emergency stations in parks, shopping malls, schools and back yards around the country. More than 30,000 amateur radio operators across the country participated in last year's event.” This is a competition amongst all ham radio participants. They receive points for various actions. Reaching stations using Morse code is worth twice as many points as reaching them by voice. Last year they made 3,300 contacts. In previous years, this radio group has placed number one and in the top ten four times.
Sander will bring five antennas (four designed and built by Sander, one will be a commercial antenna), three towers (35’, 45’ and 52’), two radios and two computers to the event. The competition lasts 24 hours, from 1:00 p.m. June 23, to 1:00 p.m. June 24, and will be located at the southeast corner of the Murphy City Complex. Sander said, “The public will have a chance to meet and talk with Murphy, Sachse and other local ham radio operators and see for themselves what the amateur radio service is about. Murphy’s Law Field Day Group invites the public to come and see HAM radio capabilities and learn how to get their own FCC radio license.” There will be a hands-on activity where attendees will be taught the necessary steps to tune an antenna. He said people who enjoy participating in public service will enjoy being ham radio operators.