HAM radios aren’t just a thing of the past


BUCKHANNON — A couple of local people are seeking to spread awareness and help promote telecommunication by use of HAM radios. Buckhannon residents Fred and Stacy Suder both have licenses to operate the amateur radios and want to help others utilize this amazing method of communicating.

Long before the internet and cell services, the study of electromagnetic fields and radio communication dates back to the 1870s, which was 50 years after Samuel F.B. Morse invented the Morse code, around 1832. The HAM Radio or, “Amateur Radio,” is a complex radio that can be traced back over 100 years. Many still use it today, but people must be licensed to operate radio bands. 

According to the National Association for Amateur Radio, James Clerk Maxwell, a main pioneer of amateur radio, presented a theory about electromagnetic fields in 1873 that would eventually lead others to experiment with radio devices, which included high power and antennas. The Radio Act of 1912 required amateurs to be licensed and restricted them to the single wavelength of 200 meters. Two years later, Hiram Percy Maxim founded the American Radio Relay League and noticed that if more relay stations were organized, communication would be more reliable over longer distances. Soon, tests were being made with transmission and receiving over the Transatlantic beginning in 1921. Eventually, the first two-way contact would be made via the Moon by July 1960 on 1296 MHz. 

Mr. Suder mentioned, “HAM radio operators were some of the first to operate and transmit with even creating their own call letters at the time it was being invented.” He continued to explain how different radio bands respond separately. “For example, on 160 meters which is near the am broadcast band, at night you can talk to folks in Florida. That’s why WBUC isn’t on the air at night. If they were on the air at night on the am, you’d hear them in Florida. And that’s why they operate during daytime only,” Suder mentioned. 

“You don’t see too many HAM radios nowadays. It used to be more popular in the ‘60s. For me, it’s been a hobby for all my life, but once you understand the importance of amateur radios or when you study to get a license, it comes in handy when all else fails. Many of these units are used for emergency situations and the military still uses them,” Suder stated. “Most of my family are licensed to operate amateur radios. My main goal is to get the word out and it would be nice to have a county club. Some of the counties in our state have clubs like Doddridge, Monongalia, Logan, Raleigh, Kanawha and a lot more; WVU even has a club for amateur radios. The range of telecommunication with these radios are so powerful and distant, you can speak to people from just in your town or someone directly in another country on the other side of the Earth. They’re so strong that they even reach to outer space,” Suder said.      

“My main goal is to stress the opportunity for young folk to get them involved in something that you don’t see too frequently anymore. It’s a great hobby and service to pick up on, and introduces people to the electronics and telecommunication that are unlike the communication we mostly use today with cell phones and the internet,” Suder emphasized. “People may get involved for different reasons, but have a basic knowledge of radio technology and operation principles. You must pass an examination for an FCC license to be qualified to operate on radio bands. They call them ‘Amateur Bands’ that have been assigned by the FCC (or Federal Communications Commission). You used to have to learn Morse Code too, in order to pass the examination years ago,” he stated. “A good buddy of mine and I was inspired as teenagers to obtain our license and then eventually acquiring the top license. My first Call letters were K8WYH,” Suder proudly expressed.

Fred and Stacy Suder currently have a “Go Fund Me” fundraiser on Facebook, in order to help young people purchase online courses for Amateur Radio. “It teaches the youth about emergency communications and gives them an opportunity for advanced learning. Anyone can obtain a license. There are kids under the age of 10 learning to operate HAM radios,” Suder further stated. You can contact Fred and Stacy through Facebook @Fred Stacy Suder or by email at [email protected] to contribute to their cause or for more information about Amateur Radio licensing.

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