Ham radio introduction, class planned in Manchester

MANCHESTER – An introduction to ham radio and class will be offered 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at the Manchester Red Cross Blood Center, 425 Reservoir Ave.

Ham radio, or amateur radio, allows people to communicate via radio over distances ranging from a few to thousands of miles. Unlike phones, amateur radio doesn’t rely on a network, which can go down at critical times. Ham radio allows you to speak to many people all at once as opposed to dialing a number and leaving a message.

Several states, including New Hampshire and Vermont, have recently banned the use of phones while driving. The use of amateur radio equipment in vehicles isn’t restricted while driving because you don’t dial phone numbers, nor hold the unit up to your ear. This allows conversation to take place while driving, as long as it is done responsibly and safely.

Ham radio is invaluable in protecting you and your family during widespread disasters. In large disasters, power, phone and Internet will go down, but ham radio will continue to operate, providing you with crucial communications. Ham radio played a key part in providing communications in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy.

There are more than 5,000 amateur operators in New Hampshire. They get involved in many communication events, ranging from disasters to community events such as parades. Many local amateur operators provide tactical communications for the Boston Marathon each year.

While ham radio’s primary mission is to serve the public in emergencies, most of the activity is enjoying conversation with others. Some like to talk; others would rather listen and experiment with equipment.

Before anyone can transmit, he or she must receive an FCC license. A test is given to prove that you understand rules and regulations, safety and basic electronics. Knowledge of Morse Code is no longer required.

The April 18 class will provide training for the first license level. Students can continue upgrading with a course on the next day. Demonstrations of amateur radio operation will be shown throughout the day.

The class is open to everyone across New Hampshire and the surrounding area.

Pre-enrollment is required. For more information, contact Mitch Stern at 1-800-639-1766 or w1sj@arrl.net, or visit hamclass.net.