The Highland Amateur Radio Association, a group of local ham radio enthusiasts, recently celebrated its 40th anniversary with honors from the Ohio State Senate.
A proclamation signed by senate president Larry Obhof and president pro tempore Bob Peterson, was presented at the club’s Aug. 8 meeting lauding the association for its accomplishments.
According to HARA President Dave Tourtelot, the proclamation states, “The accomplishments of this organization are an excellent reflection, not only on the association itself, but also on every member who has banded together to educate both one another and the community on the benefits and, in many ways, necessities of ham radio in today’s world.”
There are close to 500 licensed ham radio operators in Highland County and throughout the region. The local club has more than 100 members and has been acknowledged in the past as one of the leading amateur radio clubs in Ohio.
According to HARA Vice President Jeff Collins, a successful 2016 license class resulted in more than 25 area people earning their first license or upgrading to an advanced license. The club is considering holding another class early next year that will cover technician and general class licenses.
Those interested in learning more can contact HARA Information Officer John Levo by calling 937-393-4951, or Collins at 937-393-3115. HARA can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
HARA’s award-winning “Monday Morning Memo” newsletter is distributed weekly to hundreds of “hams” throughout South Central Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Northwestern West Virginia, and features news about the various amateur radio clubs throughout the region.
According to club member Kathy Levo, although the club was recognized for its 40 years of existence, area amateur radio operations have been traced back to the early 20th century, when wireless communication was in its infancy and all long-distance communication was accomplished with Morse Code.
Area amateurs were taking to the airwaves well before the government had a license process in place. However, in 1934, the late Virginia Barrett Layman became the first Highland County resident to earn an amateur radio license issued by what is now the Federal Communications Commission.
Although most people think of hams just talking to all corners of the earth with simple radios and strange contraptions as an antenna, Kathy Levo said, hams were in the forefront of creating inventions often taken for granted.
According to the American Radio Relay League, hams were leaders in developing ways to transmit voice instead of code over airwaves.
Their inventions led to the development of radio for the delivery of news, entertainment and two-way communications in the 1920s and 1930s.
Amateurs had a part in winning World War II through the creation of radar, the walkie talkie and single sideband radio transmissions, as well as providing a pool of people with electronic knowledge to the armed forces, Kathy Levo said.
After the war, the invention of the transistor and technology developed by a Cleveland ham led to today’s cellphone.
During the Vietnam conflict, it was through ham radio and the MARS Program that many serving abroad in the military were able to keep in contact with loved ones in the U.S.
Today’s ham is just as likely to use some sort of digital mode to make a contact as he is to use voice or code, and some elect to make contacts through satellites circling high above the earth.
There is even a ham radio set up aboard the International Space Station, and is often used to give students an opportunity to ask a question directly to an astronaut.
Information for this article was provided by Kathy Levo.