Hamfest’s amateur radio fun coming to Orange Feb. 26

Published 12:28 am Wednesday, February 16, 2022

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“When all else fails, amateur radio is there,” says Mike Manshack, public information coordinator for the American Radio Relay League.

The League is hosting its annual Hamfest fundraiser Feb. 26 at the Orange County Convention & Expo Center from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The event is $8 for anyone over the age of 12 years old.

“We usually have averaged 400 people who like to visit the Hamfest every year and our goal is to interest the youth into joining the amateur radio world,” said Manshack. “It is a hobby but has a very serious side as well.”

In 2003, a space shuttle crashed near Jasper, and the FBI sought the help of amateur radio repeaters to assist during the duration of the tragedy.

According to history.com, the space shuttle, Columbia, crashed 80 seconds after launching due to a piece of foam insulation that broke off from the shuttle’s propellant tank and hit the edge of the shuttle’s left wing.

Cameras focused on the launch sequence revealed the foam collision, but engineers could not pinpoint the location and extent of the damage. Although similar incidents occurred on three prior shuttle launches without causing critical damage, some engineers at the space agency believed the damage to the wing could cause a catastrophic failure.

Their concerns were not addressed in the two weeks that Columbia spent in orbit because NASA management believed that even if major damage had been caused, there was little that could be done to remedy the situation.

Manshack said Feb. 26’s event provides hands-on activities and speakers who cover topics that range from history to current issues.

“The Federal Communications Commission licensed radio operators (Ham Radio) will join in to buy, sell or exchange radio equipment among other items of interest,” Manshack said. “You will find new and used equipment, and there will be volunteer testing for new folks who would like to test for a new license or upgrade one.

“At the event there will be radio operators who have been talking to each other and have a chance to meet to see who they have been talking to. Representatives from American Radio Relay League will be present during forums to inform what is currently happening and speak on the future of ham radio. They will talk about scholarships to ones who apply which is license operator only.”

Tickets for the Grand Prize and door prizes are: $1 each, 6 for $5 or 12 for $10.

The Grand Prizes will be drawn at 1:30 p.m. You need not be present for the Grand Prize drawings. But you must be present for all door prize drawings.

For more information, call Rocky Wilson at 409-988-8906.

— Written by Sierra Kondos, Special to The Leader