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Tune in to amateur radio news at Green Country Hamfest

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The flea market at Green Country Hamfest is a great place to talk about the hobby of amateur radio.
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CLAREMORE, Okla. - Green Country Hamfest is coming your way. No, it’s not about bacon and sausage: It’s about amateur radio and a celebration, community gathering and educational event that is the largest of its kind in Oklahoma. Hamfest takes place Mar. 13 and 14 at the Claremore Expo Building.

Visitors will be attending Hamfest from all over Oklahoma and the surrounding states.  The Green Country Hamfest is open to all radio hobbyists, interested members of the public and their families. Hamfest is an opportunity for amateur radio operators and those wanting to find out more about it to learn about the hobby and how to contribute to the community during disasters and emergencies.

This event is presented by Green Country Hamfest, whose President Merlin Griffin spoke with RDR about it. Griffin said the event was a place to do a variety of things for people interested in amateur radio. They can swap, buy, sell or trade equipment, learn something at the forums and find out more about the amateur radio organizations.

“I’ve always said I trade my old junk for somebody else’s junk,” said Griffin. “Besides commercial vendors, there will be many flea market tables where private individuals will be swapping and trading some of their older equipment to buy something newer.”

Griffin said amateur radio was like any other hobby and people “like to have the latest and greatest or the newest technology.”

“Then some people just enjoy the bartering that takes place in the flea market. Somebody has an item on his table with a $100 price tag on it. Somebody comes by and offers $50 or less. The selling party acts insulted, but counters by reducing his asking price to say $90. Then they may go back and forth a while or the potential buyer may walk off, only to come back an hour or so later to see if the item is still there and ask if the seller will take $75. Maybe then they make a deal. Sometimes they just talk about the piece of equipment for a while and no transaction takes place,” Griffin said.

The forums offered at Hamfest include presentations from the National Weather Service, which has worked with Amateur Radio for many years. An amateur radio station exists in the Tulsa office of the National Weather Service, and it’s active when severe weather threatens.

“The Weather Service gives us training,” Griffin said, “And the spotters provide their time and use their own radio equipment.”

In addition to the Tulsa Amateur Radio Club, the Tulsa Repeater Organization is vital to weather forecasting in Oklahoma. “The organization operates several repeaters but their main one is in one of Tulsa’s tallest buildings and has multiple receiver sites to give it really good range.”

Hamfest visitors can also attend the Amateur Radio Relay League meeting. The ARRL is a national association that supports the amateur radio community with training and organizing the National Traffic System, which Griffin said, is a “well-organized system of volunteers that relay messages for third parties all over the county, kind of like the old-fashioned system of sending telegrams.”

Griffin gave an example: “A few years ago after a major earthquake in Los Angeles, I was contacted by a person in Tulsa that needed to get hold of a family member in the Los Angeles area to tell her of a death in the family here so that she could arrange to get to the funeral. Due to the damage out there you couldn’t get a phone call into the area. When I got the message the Salvation Army's disaster net had shut down for the day. I then switched over to VHF and posted the message out on a packet radio bulletin board with a heading of @NTS which designates it as a message to go on the national traffic system. Then it used the area code of the telephone number I posted in the message. This would get it routed toward southern California.

“I don't know the exact way the message reached LA, but it did.  It may have been relayed by voice or Morse Code, or some combination thereof. Then it reached a ham radio operator in the L.A. area who was able to place a local phone call or perhaps dropped by the house of the person that the message was for. I know the message was delivered as the lady here in Tulsa called me in like the next day thanking me for getting the urgent message to her family member.”

Griffin added, “Even though some of the technology used may be old or sometimes considered crude, we have the ability to still harness it, and make it work very well. The beauty of this is that we have a wide variety of means and varying technology at our disposal we can get the message through, even under nearly impossible conditions.”

Green Country Hamfest tickets can be bought at the door. Children 12 and under are free, and adult tickets are $10. For more information, visit greencountryhamfest.org.

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Shaun Perkins

Shaun Perkins is a writer, teacher and poet and now a contributing writer for Red Dirt Report....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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