2016-07-20 / Local News

Ham radio operators from all over the world make contact with SC Peach Festival

By SCOTT POWELL
Ledger Staff Writer


A parade float is transported by Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler’s wife Kim on Saturday to the Peach Festival site where he hosted a 24-hour ham radio special event station. Radio operators checked into the station from across the Southeast and as far away as Mexico. A parade float is transported by Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler’s wife Kim on Saturday to the Peach Festival site where he hosted a 24-hour ham radio special event station. Radio operators checked into the station from across the Southeast and as far away as Mexico. Amateur radio operators contacted the South Carolina Peach Festival from as far away as Mexico and North Dakota on Saturday for a special event station hosted by the coroner’s office.

Coroner Dennis Fowler, a licensed amateur radio operator, had the ham radio station set up inside a $180,000 emergency communications trailer on display at the festival site on the county administration grounds. The trailer is deployed for major emergencies statewide. It was purchased in 2014 through a grant from the the state health department’s Upstate Health Coalition. It is an asset of the Cherokee County Coroner’s Office.

Communication logs showed 107 ham radio operators made radio contact Saturday with the amateur call sign “W4W” over a 24-hour period during the Peach Festival. Radio contacts were made on different band frequencies with operators from Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Fowler was the net control operator Saturday evening for the 6600 net on the Mount Mitchell ham radio repeater on Clingman’s Peak, located 18 miles northeast of Asheville. The net was called by the coroner at the Peach Festival from inside the communications trailer.

“The repeater has the highest elevation east of the Mississippi at 6,600 feet above sea level, thus the reason it is called 6600 net,” Fowler said. “Each Saturday night an operator directs the net asking ham radio operators who are monitoring to check in with their call sign, name and location. All who checked in were listed as contact stations.”

The coroner’s office communications trailer is equipped with 10 satellite telephone lines; Internet access via Satellite for wi-fi distribution; and UHF, VHF, and 800 MHz communications equipment allowing the capability of communicating with any agency in the state and amateur or ham radio.

Amateur radio operators can send messages in many forms without use of phone systems, the Internet, or other communications which can be disrupted in an emergency.

“It was exciting to host the special event station, W4W, from the South Carolina Peach Festival,” Fowler said. “Ham radio operators all over the world were part of the festival. Many people just stuck their heads in the door to say hello and to see all of the technology of our communications trailer.”

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