The Hill Country Amateur Radio Club reached a much-awaited milestone Aug. 23 when nine of their members successfully raised a free-standing 60-foot antenna tower. The tower is positioned atop a concrete base more than six feet deep composed of a rebar cage and nine cubic yards of concrete. The concrete base had to “cure” and harden for 30 days before being subjected to the stress of the tower being erected.
Amateur Radio operators, known as Hams, use equipment covering multiple radio frequencies to conduct two-way communication via voice, Morse code, and digital methods to exchange cultural, personal and technical information with other amateurs all over the world. In the United States, they are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Historically, when disasters strike, power is lost and standard means of communications such as phones and the internet are crippled or completely out of service, Ham radio operators have stepped forward, utilizing their capabilities to provide communication. On Sept. 11, 2001 when America came under attack, cell phone and land lines were jammed and virtually useless. Dozens of amateur radio operators helped the police and fire departments maintain communications in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.
In the wake of the communication outages experienced in the county during the freezing weather emergency in February, HCARC approached Kerr County Commissioners to offer their equipment and assistance in such emergencies. The club has more than 100 members with several thousand man-years of combined experience with radio frequency transmission and communications.
The organization will be relocating the majority of their radio station from the Red Cross building on Earl Garrett to their new location off Riverside Drive where the tower was erected. The facility will be used for routine and emergency communications as well as classroom training for those interested in obtaining their initial license or upgrading their existing one.
You don’t have to be a Ham to visit or join the club, which meets at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of every month in the Union Church building at 101 Travis St., just off Memorial Drive.
More information on the HCARC may be found on their website kerrhams.org.