By Beth Christian
The Parsons Advocate
PARSONS – The Mt. State Transmitters Amateur Radio Club has a new leader at the helm. Mark Sweitzer was elected President of the group which meets monthly at 1:30 p.m. the first Sunday of the month at the Leading Creek Volunteer Fire Department in Montrose. Sweitzer said the meetings are open to the public and he invites anyone who would like to learn more about “ham radio” to stop by and join in a meeting.
“Our meetings are a great place to learn and to gather and share information on the hobby,” Sweitzer said. “We have lots of show and tell and projects we share at each session.”
Sweitzer said amateur radio includes so many different means of communicating these days.
“It’s not all based in Morse code – there are many different modes of communication including sending photos, emails and chatter,” Sweitzer said. “Most of the hams at our meetings have a wealth of knowledge to share and each has their own expertise.”
Sweitzer said the meetings contain many hands-on projects and learning opportunities.
“Continuing education is important because there are new things being added all the time. We are always trying to improve some things, and realistically, it could take two lifetimes to learn all there is to know right now about amateur radio,” Sweitzer said.
Sweitzer said folks wishing to get into ham radio can begin for a little as $10 – the average cost of taking an initial test to receive a ham radio license, which is good for 10 years.
“Radios today can cost as little as $30 for a basic rig,” Sweitzer said. “The upper end of that is limitless, depending on what type of communication you want to use or what you can afford to spend.”
He said aside from being a fun hobby, amateur radio is utilized during times of disaster to provide communications. “The last time we were activated was during Super Storm Sandy,” Sweitzer said.
Sweitzer said Mt. State Transmitter members travel across the state and surrounding states to ham radio festivals. He said these are great places to learn about the hobby while networking with other amateur radio operators.
“These are great venues to get parts, radios, books, antennas and other supplies,” Sweitzer said. “They are lots of fun.”
One big event for the group is Field Day. This year’s event is slated for June 25 and 25 at Camp Kidd in Parsons.
“We hope folks will stop by the event and learn more about the hobby,” Sweitzer said. “During the days, hams across the U.S. participate in activities to raise awareness of the hobby and test their communication skills.”