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Walton County ARC News

The Walton County Amateur Radio Club is comprised of ham radio operators from DeFuniak Springs FL. and the rural areas of Northwest Florida. We are still a growing club and our slate of activities is also growing!

Browse through our web pages to find out more about what we do and what we’ve got planned for the future. BTW, Thank you for stopping by! If you’d like to find out how you can become a licensed ham radio operator, or if you just want to leave a comment, please feel free to drop us a message at wcarc@waltoncountyarc.com. We hope to hear from you!

The WCARC maintains the WF4X repeater on 147.285+ MHz (Tone access 100.0 Hz). This repeater is on a 180 foot tower owned by the Walton County Board of County Commissioners and is located at the Emergency Operations Center in DeFuniak Springs, FL.

KG4IDW maintains repeaters on 147.375+ Mhz. (Tone access 100.0 Hz or *55) and on 443.750+ MHz (Tone access 100.0 Hz).These repeaters are on a 500 foot tower owned by the Walton County Board of County Commissioners located 1 mile NE of DeFuniak Springs, FL.

HAM Radio On the Road (Part 2)

All wearing hats and suits, old men sit on a long bench in the hall of the County Courthouse. Are they here to hear the town gossip or are they waiting for some special event, I do not know. Above their heads is a sign stating, “$5.00 Fine For Spitting On The Floor.” The scuffed-up floor, dusty with dirt and worn from wear is now replaced with tiles. The black tiles measure the floor in square feet. The wall that once was behind the photographed elderly men now is painted a pale sickly blue. A table and three metal-frame chairs line the wall instead of a wooden bench. The old sign is now replaced with signs that say, “Smoke Free Building.” This is the place where important men met and discussed the news of Oxford. The old courthouse smells musty with age today.

The curb sign said, “No Parking,” but now cars park there so the customers can enter the businesses along the square. The Golden Rule announced in the early 1960s that it was a 1 Cent to $1.00 Bargain Store. In its windows were items of interest and mystery. Now the store has become the attraction for sorority and fraternity students from Ole Miss. Candid Campus Photography captures the memories of the University’s parties after football games, Big Sis / Lil’ Sis get-togethers, and fall formals. This is when I enter the picture. As a photographer for this store, I see the smiles, the tears, the frowns, and the pride of the people of Ole Miss. The people of Oxford come in often to have passport photos made or to pick up their one-hour photo orders. I hear stories of girls stood up at parties, and to solve their predicament, they drown themselves in alcohol until they stumble out of Forrester’s or the Gin. Men come in wearing gray suits, requesting a passport photo so that they can go to a foreign country. Mothers come in wondering if we can make a slide from a picture. People are constantly coming in and out of the blue front door. The two big windows that once allowed passersby to look upon odds and ends and peculiar artifacts of mystery now contain a camera box full of film canisters and group photos of Phi Mu, Chi Omega, Tri Delta, and Pi Beta Phi sororities. Sigma Nu, Sigma Chi, Chi Psi, and Alpha Tau Omega fraternities’ group pictures lay upon the green felt in the display case. I’ve walked past those windows too many times. In Dain’s camera viewfinder, he saw two black men in overalls and straw hats sitting on the sidewalk. They are looking up the street towards Lamar.

Alain Desvergnes must have stood in this corner here where I stand today. Behind me is the brick wall of the Hallmark store and my shoulder leans on a wooden door that opens into a possible storage closet under the stairs that lead up to the second level of stores above my head. In front of me is the same cracked sidewalk in his picture of the two black girls standing on the curb. The curb is no longer yellow; the paint has long been washed and worn away by weather. The road looks as if it has not been repaved since his picture because the same crooked crack splits across the road like the Mississippi River.

HAM Radio On the Road

As most towns with squares and city halls, Oxford has changed in its appearance since the photographs of Martin J. Dain and Alain Desvergnes. Pin oak trees stand proud in the Mississippi sunlight, shadowing small leaf patterns on the steps to the Lafayette County Courthouse in the center of the square. A confederate memorial boldly salutes the oncoming cars that enter the square. Working in the past with property developers like Ian Ainslie, I’ve learned that buildings, old and battered, have stood the test of time. Businesses have come and gone. Faces of the past have faded in old photographs while new faces beam with Southern personality. Though history and culture has continued to be handed down in stories and photos, the people of Oxford are always adding new stories and ideas of the past. Through the lens of these professional photographers’ cameras and my own Canon camera, the past and present of Oxford merges into one image: a city with a story to tell.

Dain in 1961 shot some pictures of Oxford Square for his book Faulkner’s County: Yoknapatawpha. Black girls in sleeveless dresses gather on the corner of Jackson Avenue. It must have been a Sunday afternoon after church, since the people stroll across the street in their dresses and suits and hats. Cars are parked as they do today, in front of stores that face the courthouse. Chevrolet trucks with or without HAM radio on the dashboard, three of the same model, trail each other out of the square. The square was lined with stores such as Bakers Town and Campus Fashions, Bill Crockett dry goods and clothing store, the City Grocery, and Shine Morgan’s Frigidaire. Now the stores have changed owners and names. Southside Gallery took the furniture store’s place in September 1993, and kept the same big windows and gray exterior. Now an orange and yellow fire hydrant on the sidewalk adds color to its gray surroundings. In the Spring of 1992, Adams and Currence became co-owners and transformed the nineteenth century livery stable called the City Grocery into a restaurant and bar with the same name. Its red brick and plaster walls are weather-worn on the outside.

It says on the restaurant door etched on a gold plate, “Git you some before you die!” and “No Bellyachin!” is on the door up to the casual bar on the second floor. The building where people once shopped in Bakers now contains Union Planter’s Bank. It is the largest light gray building on this side of the square. I go inside from time to time to use the ATM. I usually go next door to Square Books to spend the money I just withdrew. Established in 1979, the bookstore first resided above the architecture office on the adjacent side of the square. Yet, in the late 1980s, Square Books took the place of Blaylock’s Drug Store. On the second floor is a coffee shop that is a part of the store. There is biscotti and a variety of coffee flavors for customers to try out. People continue to come and go. A girl is walking her golden retriever. An artsy couple cross the street towards Southside Gallery. These scenes of the present blend with the past as a man stands, hat on head, hands on hips, waiting for his wife to cross the street past the 1957 Buick.

HAM Radio Work Permits

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued an opinion on whether a federal work permit cards used at the The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles as proof of a lawful presence in the USA for a driver’s licence, State ID card.

The cause of this was trigger when a an illegal alien accused of drunk driving killed a Benedictine nun with a HMA Radio. Carlos A. Martinelly-Montano had two earlier drunk driving conventions and was awaiting a deportation hearing. He received a federal work card from the Department of Homeland Security to get a State ID card, He did not have a valid driverís licence.

The opinion, issued by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, concludes that the DMV has authority and discretion to decide the documentation to issue a State ID or licence. Virgina law requires the that their applicants give that they are legally present in the United States before being granted a State driverís licence or Identification card.

Virginia DMV Commissioner, Richard Holcomb, says he is within his legal rights to stop using the federal identification work cards as proof of legal residence. However, If it is proven that a person is not of legal residence, the DMV can not cancel an already issued Virginia drivers licence.

The ACLU is calling the policy hastily adopted because of a terrible accident, they say there is no connection between a federal work permit and this specific accident. Kent Willis, ACLU of Virginia Executive Director says the state of Virgina is looking for a scapegoat because it allowed someone to drive illegally. He says the drivers licences and state issued identification are one of the most important government documents issued to many immigrants. The federal work permit card is used to receive a Social Security card, but not a state issued identification card. An applicant needed both the work card and the Social Security card to get a Virgina Drivers licence.

Types Of HAM Radio

HAM radio devices, apart from being so fun, have also proven quite helpful in a lot of situations, such as various natural disasters and terrorist attacks; they are both capable of sending and receiving radio signals. The most common types of HAM devices are:

  1. Handheld,
  2. Mobile
  3. Base Station.

All of these fit into two groups based on the length of the radio waves:

  1. High Frequency Devices (HF)
  2. Very-High-Frequency Devices (VHF)

For example, HAM radio device operating on 70-meter wavelength will be described as 70m radio or a high-frequency (HF); while a small radio operating on 230 centimeters frequency will be 230 cm radio or a very-high-frequency (VHF) radio.

Handheld HAM Radio

Handheld HAM radio receivers are, as the name suggests, very convenient for carrying around and they are not larger than an average paperback novel and their average weight is 8 ounces or 250 grams.

Handheld HAM radio receivers operate on 5w electrical power, which is mainly powered by batteries. They have small rubber duck antenna attached and their common wavelength is 2m, although some can operate on 6m, 2m, 230cm and even 70m bands.

Mobile HAM Radio

These receivers are designed to operate from a vehicle or residential HAM station. They are powered either by electrical outlets or a vehicle battery, like the cigarette lighter or a power adapter. Most certainly they are much larger and more powerful than handheld receivers. They use power outputs from 50 to 100W and with some antennas they can reach up to 200 miles (320km), while their operating frequency often includes the entire radio specter.

Base station Radio

These are generally quite large and use up to 1500W of power, which can be supplied either from a household power outlet or special 12V batteries. Some sophisticated antennas can transmit and receive signals from a distance of a couple of thousands of kilometers and they cover the entire radio spectrum of frequencies.

What Makes HAM Radio So Popular?

There are various reasons why HAM radio is so popular and why they have more than 2,000,000 users worldwide! First of all, once you invest in your equipment and license, you can communicate to whomever you want, wherever they are and without any time limits – free of charge; unlike the mobile phones where you either need to buy credits or you pay a monthly subscription and you get limited amount of minutes for conversation and messaging, valid mainly in your own country or within your network. The only thing that is going to be charged from you when you are using a HAM radio is the electrical power that your device spends.

Apart from cost convenience, HAM users have a strong community which holds them together. They often talk to each other on forums exploring new possibilities of radio, they have meetings and seminars and are most welcoming of the new HAM radio enthusiasts; they’re always willing to help the newbies.

HAM CloseupHAM radio has its social purpose, too. In situations when all other communications fail, radio is working. This can happen during some natural disasters or even during terrorist attacks. On 9/11 when communications failed, many HAM operators volunteered to spread the important information all over the country and world; they were also very helpful during hurricanes and floods all over the US and wider.

Being part of this community makes you special in a way. You are able to share your own voice and ideas with people, to help in times of crisis and you can experiment and explore. Being able to send messages to the Moon and back, using a Morse code and communicate with somebody from the other side of the world who speaks a different language than yours, gives you a special kind of power, in a way.

My Definition of HAM Radio

Communication nowadays has many different shapes. We use telephones, faxes, cell phones, the internet and many other means which might be considered outdated like letters or radio communication. However, there are more than 2,000,000 HAM radio enthusiasts around the world, and 600,000 of them are located in the United States.

HAM radio is a mean of communication which is performed via radio waves and it is quite similar to any radio station. All you need to have in order to become a HAM radio operator are headphones or speakers, microphone and a HAM radio device which varies in size, power and price, of course; the basic equipment however, can be found for less than $200.

Unlike CB radio, HAM radio stations can communicate with each other via satellites, so the radio signal can bounce of from a satellite to another HAM device, and radio waves can even be bounced of from the Moon or Aurora Borealis to other HAM devices! Some people use HAM radio to communicate with international space stations. (?!)

Modern HAM radio devices can have a computer or a tablet interface and therefore send data or images or even a Morse code, which is still very popular and interesting.

HAM radio station can be set up anywhere: indoors and outdoors. What is even more convenient, you can take your equipment with you wherever you go, but in order to be able to use it, you will need two things:

First of all, you will need to have some basic knowledge of radio technology and operating principles and the second thing you will need is a FCC license that will allow you to operate on Amateur Radio Bands.

Once you get your license you will be able to communicate on all frequencies from 1.8 Megahertz, which is just above the broadcast radio frequencies, up to 275 Gigahertz. Various frequencies are used for various purposes. Mainly, the higher the frequency, the easier it is to send the messages to bigger distances. You will also be able to use some of the lower frequencies (535-1605 kHz) that are reserved for amateur radio bands. Other frequencies are most commonly reserved for government, military and commercial radio, but they are also used by taxi companies and for market flees and other professional communication.

The amateur radio emerged back in the 19th century but its real expansion happened at the beginning of the 20th century. Back at the time, all wireless communications were going through landline telegraphs and it was used for various reasons. For example, the government used it, ships used it, the military used it and among all, amateurs used it and the licenses were not implemented. Many amateurs were competing with the commercial radios for the most powerful frequencies. Two amateurs, talking to each other from one side of town to other, could easily jam all other operations and nobody was very fond of them, so they’ve earned the pejorative name – HAM. Interestingly, the amateurs of that time didn’t really realize that the name had a negative connotation, so they adopted the term by which they are still called today.

CB and HAM Radio – The Differences

Many are convinced that CB radio and HAM radio is the same thing; actually there is a significant difference between the two, although both can be described as two-way radio.

The main difference is in different licenses. For, in order to get a license for a HAM radio, you need to take various tests about radio and electric technology, and you would also need to take a Morse code test. On the other hand, if you want to use a CB radio, you will need a C13 license and for that you only have to fill in a form.

Another thing regarding licensing is that HAM license can only be issued to individuals, while the C13 license can also be issued to organizations and companies.

It can be said that HAM and CB complement each other in a certain way:

  • While CB is intended for local use only, HAM on the other hand, has neither distance nor time limitation.
  • HAM doesn’t allow business and commercial messages, while CB allows both but has a 5-minute time limit.
  • HAM is widely used for chit-chat while CB strongly forbids messaging without a good purpose.
  • CB has power limitation of 4W and 20 miles limit of distance coverage, while HAM can go up to 1500W and has no limit in distance coverage.
  • CB is ideal for small business, delivery, pickups or taxis. It is also very handy for hikers, climbers, boaters and cyclists, because channel 9 is reserved only for emergency. This means that wherever you are, you can call for help if you have a simple 4W walky-talky.
  • On the other hand, HAM is used for disasters and other situations where all other communications have failed. In fact it has proved quite useful during the 9/11 crisis and even during hurricane disasters to pass the crucial information to the right place faster.