CORNWALL, Ontario – Ed Halliwell can still remember, with vivid detail, how crowded the airwaves got when an amateur radio operator from New Zealand was heard bouncing his signals across the sky.
Halliwell was at an outdoor Seaway Valley Amateur Radio Club event and his radio set was barely putting out any juice, but he could still hear the voice of a man on the other side of the planet.
And so could nearly everyone else in North America with a HAM radio set of their own.
“Everyone in North America was trying to talk to this guy,” Halliwell joked. “We just didn’t have enough power for him to hear us. But we could hear him.”
The world of amateur radio is full of stories like that. Halliwell and the dozens of others who are members of the Seaway Valley Amateur Radio Club are looking to broaden their reach by adding other like-minded individuals to their ranks.
The club is hosting some information/education sessions beginning in November and into the new year.
“The club has been around for a long time. Fifty years,” he said.
In that time it has carved out a niche as not only a place for amateur radio enthusiasts to gather, but is also now a strong community partner.
The club is part of the CANWARN Storm Spotter group – a collection of individuals who keep in touch with Environment Canada during major weather events to report local conditions in real-time.
The club is also a part of the city’s emergency preparedness plan and has offered communication services during events like the annual Raisin River Canoe Race.
During Ice Storm ’98, many amateurs provided communication services for municipalities throughout Eastern Ontario and Quebec.
A background in electronics or computers is not a requirement as many radio amateurs come from a wide variety of occupations and backgrounds. There are also many aspects to the hobby, for example, some like to experiment and build new equipment to bounce radio signals off the Moon, while others simply enjoy conversing with other amateurs around the world.