Amateur Radio Club Makes Contacts from Across the Globe:

When Daniel Simpson and Father David Probst turn on a special device in each of their houses, they can converse with people across the world at the touch of a button. The communications aren’t sent through Facebook or email; in fact they’re not sent via computers at all. The messages are sent by amateur radio, and connect Simpson and Probst to a network of users all across the globe. “I don’t have [the number] for the country, but I know that there are roughly 80 in Baldwin County, and if you do counties that touch Baldwin County, so Putnam, Hancock, Washington, Wilkinson and Jones, it’s right at 300 in those counties,” said Simpson, vice president of the Milledgeville Amateur Radio Club. “We represent a very large population for a hobby.” Since the club’s inception in 1961, the MARC has brought together amateur radio enthusiasts, also known as ‘hams’, from Milledgeville and across Middle Georgia. Begun as an offshoot of a student club at Georgia Military College after its original members graduated college, the club has served as a resource for amateur operators for nearly 65 years (a founding member of that group, Charles Pennington of Sandersville, remains a club member to this day). Although the hobby is often seen as dying or outdated, new technologies and modes of communication have created a new generation of amateur enthusiasts. “There are so many different things in this hobby for people to do, and that’s the thing that’s really neat about it,” said Probst. “Daniel and I do some of the same stuff, but everybody in the club isn’t interested in the same thing. We have some members that enter contests, some members that are interested in digital modes, meaning things you can do with your computer through a radio, and people can also talk via satellites. We don’t have any in our club, but there are people who will bounce a signal off the moon just because they can.” For a hobby that can trace its roots back as early as the late 19th century, amateur radio has grown to incorporate a vast number of voice, text, image and data transfer technologies by operators across the globe. Ham radios can be operated from nearly any point across the globe and, together with a portable power source, do not rely on any centralized cell towers or infrastructure. This ability allows operators to send and receive communications in times of crisis and natural disaster, giving hams a unique role as the go-to messengers for wherever internet and phone lines are knocked out.

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