Herald JournalHerald Journal, Jan. 10, 2005

Ham radio growing hobby for father and son

By Dennis Sherman

Scott Averill of Howard Lake is a machinist by trade, but when a knee injury sidelined him three years ago he started a new hobby in amateur radio to ward off boredom.

Scott already was a citizens band radio enthusiast when he started in ham radio.

Not long after, his 11-year-old son Jacob Averill followed in his foot steps and became licensed in February of 2003.

Scott volunteers his time with Howard Lake’s Cub Scout Pack 494, where Jacob is a member.

The Cub Scouts drew on Scott’s expertise in radio and electronics to learn soldering and wiring skills to make keying machines for Morse Code.

The Scouts were able to use their creations to communicate with each other from across camp after lights out.

Scott and Jacob also use their skills in amateur radio to safeguard the public, as storm watchers.

Scott is quick to point out that they do not “chase” tornados, but go out and skywatch during bad weather.

If a dangerous situation presents itself, they can transmit to relay stations where the National Weather Service can pick up this information quickly.

A typical example of how ham radio works is when Scott sends a signal to a relay station in Willmar, which is bounced to another operator in Madison.

From there, Scott is able to have conversations with other ham radio operators, such as Don Heimerl (operator K0KLN), who is at a distance of about 117 miles.

This may not sound impressive with the availability of telephones, cell phones, e-mail and Internet chat rooms – but Scott points out his equipment is not dependent on electrical power from the utility company, phone wires or cable connections.

Battery back up power makes amateur radio indispensable in emergency situations.

What are his plans for the future with amateur radio? Scott is hoping to become involved in the Military Affiliate Radio Service project or MARS.

MARS is a volunteer service that service members may use to get messages to friends and family from remote locations often weeks before they could by using other means.

For those who wish to learn more about amateur radio, check out the American Radio Relay League at http://www.arrl.org/.

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