Ham Radio, amateur radio, the service is still there and a new club in town will make it easier to get involved | Daily news from Faribault


Ham Radio continues to be used across the country, and new to town is a club that licenses anyone interested, like 13-year-old Raven Branter.

Ham Radio has been around for 100 years, the official name being “The Amateur Radio Service”. Operators are required to have a license issued by the Federal Communications Commission.

Faribault resident Larry Larson has been a ham operator for 22 years. He said he had always been interested in amateur radio but had never been able to understand Morse code.

“I always had problems with Morse code, when they got rid of it in 1991 I got more involved,” he said.

Larson joked that the name “amateur radio” comes from the days.

“Commercial operators used to give radio amateurs the nickname ham, referring to ham fists or clumsy ones,” he said.

Amateur radio is easy to do and can be done relatively inexpensively. A small portable radio can get you on the air locally for as little as $ 60. With amateur radio, networks can be set up quickly and are completely independent of any other technology.

Larson said they were working with the Faribault Police Department to help in emergency situations.

“We want to follow the police and fire chiefs in any kind of disaster,” he said. He added that he was already using ham radio for bike rides and walks, to organize the event.

The radios are battery powered, which is crucial during power outages. Many Skywarn weather observers report using hams. Larson said he is actively working with the Red Cross and Salvation Army, which also use hams.

Ed Karn and his 13-year-old son Raven Branter both hold a ham license.

Karn said that after his retirement he finally found the time to get involved in ham radio. Now that he’s a licensed operator, he always wanted to have someone at home that he could call on the radio.

“Raven was always hanging out when I did, so I told him if he got his license, I would buy him a handheld,” Karn said.

Karn said his son immediately started following the study guides and went to register for his license.

Now that Branter has his license, he and his father use them as if they would with a cell phone. Branter said he was glad he got his license.

“It’s really fun talking to people all over the world,” Branter said.

He has been licensed for a few months now and said the tests were easy.

“My favorite part is talking to other amateur friends,” Branter said.

Branter has grown to love ham radio so much that he wants to fix radios when he is older.

Karn said that depending on the time of year, you can talk to hams from all over the world.

“There was once a pile-up in Antarctica, there must have been 10,000 hams trying to get their hands on this guy,” Karn said.

Karn said 50 MHz is the best frequency in the summer.

“I am using a 9 foot wire connected to the radio that runs through my yard,” he said.

It takes about 10 to 15 hours to get the license. You can buy a book for $ 25 before signing up for the $ 15 test. Practice tests can also be taken online. The tests are given at Geek Central in downtown Faribault.

Larson said they are forming a new group called The River Bend Wireless and Mechanical Society. They meet at noon on the third Saturday of the month at Geek Central.

To learn more about the group, visit their website.

Brad Phenow covers Rice County Government, Townships, and Arts & Entertainment. Join him in Faribault at 333-3135 and in Northfield at 645-1122.