Use of ham radios growing in UP
CALUMET TOWNSHIP — It may seem unusual when there are so many forms of electronic communication available there are still people who use radios to communicate, but according to Stuart Kauppila the use of the technology is actually growing.
Kauppila, who is the president of the Copper Country Radio Amateurs Association, said the group currently has 33 members, but has had as many as 75 members in the past.
“It ebbs and flows,” he said.
Kauppila said the CCRAA members communicate with each other, with members of other local organizations, such as The Michigan Technological University Tech Amateur Radio Club and the Keweenaw Repeater Association, and people who aren’t affiliated with any organization.
The numbers of people involved with the pastime seems to be expanding in the United States, Kauppila said.
“Locally, we’ve seen a resurgence,” he said. “I think it’s growing, actually.”
Besides communicating with local amateur radio users, Kauppila said one of the aspects of ham radio he enjoys is talking to people all over the world.
Kauppila said unlike Citizens Band (CB) radio, amateur radio users require a license from the Federal Communications Commission to operate.
To become licensed to operate an amateur radio, Kauppila said a person has to pass a complicated 35-question test, which is given locally.
“We’re tested by our members who are volunteer examiners,” he said.
There are three FCC license classifications, Kauppila said. They are Technician, General and Extra.
According to the American Radio Relay League, the national association for amateur radio in the United States, each succeeding license level allows the operator more access to the radio frequency bands.
Radio amateurs have regular gatherings to keep up on information involving radio use, Kauppila said. They also help out during weather emergencies, fires, searches and rescues, and during loss of other communications systems, especially in areas without cell phone coverage. Ham operators are help coordinate large events, such as Tech’s Parade of Nations, the CopperDog 150 dog sled race, and others.
During emergencies, Kauppila said ham operators are in contact with the Houghton and Keweenaw County Emergency Services Coordinator.
Ham radio operators enjoy being able to just chat with other operators, some of whom may be on the other side of the planet.
“They call it rag chewing,” he said.
Being able to communicate with someone thousands of miles away depends on the power of the radio, available band width, and even weather or sun spot activity.
“Some bands are good at night for long range, and some are good during the day,” he said.
To get more information about amateur radio or about the Copper Country Radio Amateurs Association, contact Stuart Kauppila at 337-5440, or online at ccraa.net.