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75 Meter Extra Class WAS Net

Dalton Holds Annual Georgia QSO Party for Amateur Radio Members

(TNS) – Jeremy Barfield and Carter Grant stood in the backyard of the Huff House on Saturday afternoon attempting to make contact with other radio amateurs during the annual Georgia QSO Party, an “over the air” gathering of amateur radio enthusiasts, also know as HAM radio operators.

It wasn’t long after the men, all members of the Dalton Amateur Radio Club, also made contact with the International Space Station.

“It feels gratifying,” said Grant of Chatsworth. “Everyone doesn’t get to reach that far.”   The contact lasted a couple minutes, according to Barfield. Grant said they performed what’s called a “slow scan.”  “That’s when a picture is sent and turned into sound,” Grant said. “It’s really interesting.”   Barfield joined the club over a year ago and said he loves it.

“I have a lot of fun making contact from my home radio station, to people in Europe or even Japan,” he said. “I like seeing how far I can reach with 1,000 watts and a wire.”

The Dalton members held their QSO party gathering at the Huff House on Selvidge Street in Dalton as a tribute to Willard Strain, a late member who purchased a gazebo for the historic home.  David Stanley, one of the local club’s 40-plus members, said their club is a special event station.

“We have a special call sign (W4D) issued by the FCC to commemorate the Carpet Capital of the World and demonstrate the Huff House,” Stanley said.

The objective of a QSO party is for radio amateurs outside of Georgia to make contacts with as many stations in all of Georgia’s 159 counties, according to the Georgia QSO website. This is the 58th year for the state QSO party.

Dalton had two radios set up for the contest.  “It depends how seriously you take it as to how many contacts you make,” he said. “But you can make hundreds.”  Stanley said members participate all over the world, and it is not unusual to chat with operators from other states, but with operators in countries from Europe, Asia, Africa.

“Maybe they are at home, in a vehicle, wherever. They can make contact with us and still get Whitfield County.”

Stanley explained the contest as something where they exchange a signal report, which tells the person on the opposite end how well they can hear you, along with an exchange of basic information such as their name, state or country, and if from Georgia, their county.

The GA QSO party is held once a year for two days, but Dalton only participates in one day.

“We’re just here for fun,” Philip Rafey, public information officer for the Dalton Amateur Radio Club, said. “We like to get together socially.”

Greg Williams, president of the club, said it has been in existence since the early 1980s. They meet once a month at the Dalton Public Works building. “We perform many public services, and we’re not allowed to make any money doing it,” Williams said.  Members help by serving the Whitfield Emergency Management Agency (EMA), the Georgia EMA and Federal EMA.

“They will call ‘hams’ when there is a loss of communication or cellphone towers aren’t working,” Williams said. “We can still communicate without the cell towers, there’s no backbone required for ham radio structure to stay in place.” Williams also said when there is any kind of disaster, the Red Cross will call them to handle communications.

“If we have a disaster and all of our communications go down, we’ll use radio,” Williams said. “Radio will never fail.”

by Shaka L. Cobb, The Daily Citizen, Dalton, Ga. / April 16, 2018

(With multiple corrections/edits by N1KL)

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