The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Breaking News

Local News

January 12, 2014

Social media’s best-kept secret

Ham radio club’s class aims to add to growing ranks

MERCER COUNTY — Amateur radio – also known as Ham radio – is more popular now than it’s ever been, said Tim Duffy, president of the Mercer County Amateur Radio Club.

That might be surprising considering, if you don’t know a Ham operator, you probably aren’t even aware of the hobby.

With more than 700,000 Hams in the United States, the hobby has grown since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as people felt the need to be more prepared for emergencies and disasters, Duffy said.

“When all else fails, we’re there,” he said. “When the phone companies overload, we’re there. When the power goes out, we’re there.”

The club has its own station at the Mercer County 911 center.

Aside from emergency preparedness, Ham radio is a great way to meet people, learn about people and events in other parts of the world, and network for employment opportunities, Duffy said.

“It’s a tremendous fraternity,” he said.

This week, the 50-member local club is doing its part to grow the fraternity by holding a “Ham in a Day” class Saturday at Pennsylvania State University’s Shenango Campus in Sharon.

The day-long class concludes with a Federal Communications Commission test and those who pass it will earn the most basic of the three levels of Ham operator licenses.

Typically, Ham classes have taken six to eight weeks at the rate of a couple of hours one night a week, Duffy said. It’s possible to earn a Ham license in a day since the FCC removed the requirement that operators know Morse code, said Chester B. “Barney” Scholl Jr., the club’s treasurer.

The class textbook, the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, is available for $30 at Scholl’s law office at 32 Shenango Ave., Sharon. Interested folks can register for the class when they pick up the book.

There also will be a $15 fee for the 35-question test, payable in cash the day of the class.

People as young as 6 or 7 have earned licenses, and Ham radio appeals to folks of all ages, Duffy said.

It’s not necessarily an expensive hobby as someone can buy basic equipment for a couple hundred bucks, he said, noting that he was given equipment as a kid by adult Hams.

“Like any hobby, the sky’s the limit as to how much you can spend,” said Scholl, of Hermitage.

It depends on your equipment how far your radio can reach. Basic equipment will get you access to other Hams in the area. More sophisticated accouterments can afford you the opportunity to bounce your signal off the moon or Ham satellites and talk with someone on the other side of the world, Duffy said.

“One minute you’re talking to the guy from the local pharmacy and the next you’re talking to Joe Walsh of the Eagles,” said Duffy, who works for DX Engineering of Tallmadge, Ohio, which makes Ham radio equipment.

Hams usually confirm their communications with postcards and Duffy, who has one from Walsh, plastered a wall of his Shenango Township home with Ham postcards from all over the world.

“I think more people know me by my call sign than know my name,” said Duffy, also known as K3LR.

Special interest groups will form – high school classmates, retired railroaders – and meet over the airwaves at preset times and a specific frequency.

“Typically, people don’t talk about politics or religion or things that get muddy,” Duffy said.

Many overseas Hams know English, affording communications with Americans, but Scholl said he knows people who use Ham radio specifically to learn other languages.

“Amateur radio opens doors,” Duffy said. “You meet people. That next person you meet might be your next boss, your next employment opportunity.”

Text Only
Local News
  • Better security Grant available to boost security in district courts

    County officials are looking to quickly upgrade security systems in the five district judge offices, not due to an increase in risk, but because current systems are antiquated and there is a short window to apply for some financial help with the costs.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Officials split over selling older monitors

    What to do with a pile of older LCD computer monitors, keyboards and mice remains up in the air until the third, and often absent, county commissioner makes a decision.

    July 24, 2014

  • Police anxious to talk with victim

    Sharon police want to talk to a West Hill man about several other men who came to his house shortly before he was shot and critically wounded Tuesday.

    July 24, 2014

  • AED presentation Heart-friendly pool

    The Lackawannock-Shenango-West Middlesex Pool has some pretty obvious changes from when it was opened almost 46 years ago.

    July 24, 2014 4 Photos

  • Sharon man 'stable' after being shot in his West Hill home

    A Sharon man was in stable condition this morning after being shot by one of several men he had let into his West Hill home, police said.

    July 23, 2014

  • GJR killer not eligible for parole, court rules

    State Superior Court on Tuesday reversed a local judge’s decision that the sentence for one of two men who killed a night supervisor at George Junior Republic, Pine Township, was unconstitutional.

    July 23, 2014

  • Duplicated files, former worker confesses

    A Mercer woman accused of stealing customer lists, billing information and other data from her former employer headed off trial Monday by pleading guilty to a charge of unlawful duplication.

    July 23, 2014

  • Starved house Vandals vent their emotions

    Vandals kept police busy Sunday and Monday nights at a home in Greenville where the Mercer County District Attorney’s office said a boy was starved and beaten by his mom.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Couple, another man charged in thefts

    Pennsylvania State Police have filed charges of burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief against an East Palestine, Ohio, couple and another man in connection with two robberies in rural Mercer County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Taking stock Where’s the beef? Bull’s still missing

    Is it possible that an alien abduction took place in the Mercer area last week? A solid red, 2-year-old Watusi bull with 3-foot-long horns has been missing since July 14 with no trace of its existence left on earth.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Buhl Day honorees

    The Buhl Day committee has chosen for this year’s celebration five honored guests whose volunteer work they feel best showcases the legacy of philanthropic work left behind by Frank and Julia Buhl a century ago.

    July 22, 2014

  • GC pair not hurt in accident injuring 2

    Two drivers were taken to a hospital after an accident at the intersection of state routes 965 and 173 in Worth Township, police said.

    July 21, 2014

  • WaterFire crowds WaterFire doused

    Sharon’s WaterFire wasn’t lacking either of its elements on Saturday. There was steady, day-long rain but the day concluded with the Shenango River ablaze.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Starved’ boy released from hospital

    A 7-year-old boy allegedly starved and beaten by his mother is out of the hospital and ordered out of his Greenville home by Mercer County Common Pleas President Judge Thomas R. Dobson.

    July 20, 2014

  • WaterFire walking tour Time traveling

    A group of more 50 people walked between the raindrops Saturday during an historical tour of downtown Sharon during the city’s WaterFire celebration.

    July 20, 2014 6 Photos 1 Story