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.

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.