HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — “This is KF5ALV, Kilo-Fox-Five-Alpha-Lima-Victor calling CQDE and standing by… This is KF5ALV, Kilo-Fox-Five-Alpha-Lima-Victor calling CQDE and standing by.”
Moments after 14-year-old Samantha Bruton spoke the above call sign using the phonetic alphabet through her dad’s ham radio, a reply came back from a ham-radio user in Kansas.
“KF5ALV , KF5ALV, this is AB2GD, Alpha-Bravo-Two-Golf-Delta, reading you loud and clear here in Kansas.”
From 7 a.m. Saturday through the night and up until noon on Sunday, this was the typical sound heard from four different ham radios as members of the Lea County Amateur Radio Club sat and fiddled with their ham radios, making contact with other users all over the country and world, as part of the LCARC third annual field day.
Bruton, who was attempting to make her first contact through a ham radio with the help of her father, Bobby, replied with her call sign, followed by another call sign, “Four-Alpha-New Mexico.”
“That is how we make verification for a contact,” said LCARC member Jim Morrison. “By her saying ‘Four-Alpha-New Mexico,’ she is stating we have four radios working at our site and our location is in New Mexico. Then the person she is talking to will reply back with their location using the same call signal.”
When making contact, ham radio users usually disclose their name, location, signal report, and possible a brief summary of their station (how much power they’re running and the kind of antenna they’re using). After that, the conversation topic is up to the users.
“We talk to people about their jobs, family or politics and sports most of the time,” said Morrison.
Amateur radio, or “ham radio”, is the use of designated radio frequency spectrum for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, training and emergency communication.
“The term ‘amateur’ is used to specify persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest,” Morrison said. “It must also differentiate from commercial broadcasting, public safety or professional two-way radio services.”
For the field day event, members of the LCARC gathered at Camp Jim Murray, just south of the Hobbs Country Club Golf Course.
“The whole concept behind the field day is to demonstrate how to be able to set up in areas like a disaster area,” said LCARG member Lonie Scott. “Out here, you are required to do the set up without using a power supply, and can only use batteries. It is a good practice for folks to be able to grab their stuff and be able to set up.”
In years past, the LCARC held the field day at different locations, ranging from the top of the Guadalupe Mountains to the Knowles Fire Department.
“The guys out here today are basically having a play-day,” Morrison said. “We work in the vicinity of 150 stations, and we enjoy our time out here making new contacts.”
For 14-year-old Samantha Bruton, making a first contact through a ham radio was exciting to say the least. “It’s fun because it’s not as easy as say, using a cell phone or the Internet,” Bruton said. “It is cool that you can talk to people all over the world.”