Amateur Radio in Central Mississippi….#We Do Stuff!
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he members of CMSARA are active ham radio operators. We love transmitting and receiving radio waves in many forms. Some of these are across town while others are across the globe. Others are just experimental…trying to figure out the “next big thing” in radio. Those across town or around the greater Jackson area are usually in support of public service events—such as Hurricanes like Katrina—but more often helping non-profit organizations in their events such as bike or running races. This takes a burden off of police and fire agencies and saves public funds.
We may not bark at the moon…but we do bounce radio communications off the moon and talk to the International Space Station when it comes within range. We also experiment with building some of our equipment.
You may be surprised to learn that modern cell phones are modelled after our “repeater systems” which relay our communications across town, throughout the state, around the country, and from continent to continent. But why not just use cell phones to communicate? Perhaps for the same reason hunters don’t just buy meat at the butcher shop or fishermen don’t purchase fish at the fish market. We love the hunt too! And, we’re licensed by the FCC to hunt or fish for exotic radio waves! And cell phones don’t work when a tornado blows area towers down.
CMSARA members also support the Jackson area communities by providing communications for other organizations who raise funds for the public good. We cannot, by law, directly charge for these radio communications. So most of our funds comes from the pockets of members; truly a gift to the public. We work with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) upon request in addition to the National Weather Service. Some of our members are active Storm Chasers and Meteorologists who appear on television. It’s common for our members to be involved and critical sources of information for weather outlets, hospitals, and government entities. Our primary served agency is River Oaks Hospital in Flowood, MS where we maintain a permanent Emergency Operations Center (EOC) station.
Although it may be surprising to the general public, CMSARA members conduct practice state-wide communications operations every single day! In addition, we conduct periodic simulated emergency tests (SETs) to ensure that both our equipment and communication procedures work as expected. When all else fails, we are there to provide communications!
But that’s not all. We are continuously experimenting with innovative radio frequency technologies. Many commercial products that are commonplace today actually began as experimental projects by licensed amateur radio operators. Cell phones are one but wireless internet (WiFi) and remote control appliances are others. Using the contemporary maker-faire analogy, our members are building unmanned aerial quad-copters with amateur radio communications technologies as a payload to assist in public service and emergency communications. We have members who are collaborating with other clubs in pioneering the build-out of “broadband hamnet” where WiFi-style access points are being converted to the ham bands to create video, audio, text, video, and geographic information systems capabilities in the Central Mississippi region. And our members are working with the Magnolia Intertie Inc. to create the first set of linked repeaters around Mississippi. In short, we do stuff!
Our membership comes from all walks of life where hams enjoy learning about each other and their families. There is a camaraderie among CMSARA members that we strive to maintain whether it’s a founding member or the new ham who just joined.
You are welcomed to attend one of our public events or monthly meetings, whether you’re a licensed amateur radio operator or not. The location and directions can be found under the Meetings tab above.
We give tests for the FCC required licenses at these monthly meetings as well as many of our public events. Our members advise—or “elmer”—newcomers. So come on by…we have coffee, water, cookies, and doughnuts! You’ll be surprised at what you see and hear.
We are a Special Service Club acknowledged by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) in Connecticut for our activities. If you’re interested in science, technology, or experimentation: We Do That! Go check out the ARRL’s website for many more details about ham radio by clicking ARRL logo and by watching the movies at the links under our Resources page.