Helping Hams

Phil Knapp, on the left, and Tom Embree, operate an amateur radio station during a recent Field Day.


Hot Springs Amateur Radio Club, serving area for 66 years, is in search of new home

By Peggy Sanders

HOT SPRINGS – Everyone wants to make a difference. It’s a bonus if they can have fun doing so and Hams, officially known as amateur radio operators, are powerful on both counts. With new technology there are many ways to participate, three of which are mentioned here: keyboard to keyboard, voice and the old stand-by, Morse code. These options open up possibilities to those who are more inclined to use computer-driven communications with their amateur radios. 

Hams are vital in emergencies when other communication systems are down or clogged due to high usage. After the Rapid City flood in 1972 and after 9/11, it was Hams that kept messages going. Locally they used their talents during the Alabaugh fire. During the year they train and practice by assisting with activities such as a Volksmarches and other planned events. 

There are three levels of Hams. Potential Hams study the entry level “Ham Radio License Manual” of 340 pages, before they are tested for the Technician license. Each degree of progress has a study manual and tests are progressively more difficult. General and Extra are the second and third levels.  Among the knowledge that students acquire is radio signals and waves, basic equipment, antenna fundamentals, FCC rules and operating procedures. The Hot Springs Amateur Radio Club has a federally licensed testing team that makes it convenient with scheduled testing done at the Hot Springs Library.

The Hot Springs Amateur Radio Club, chartered on September 28, 1953, has been serving this area for 66 years. All work is done as volunteers as Hams cannot charge for their services. One change is that most amateur radios these days are portable units. Annually the club has a Field Day where they take portable communication equipment, along with generators and anything else they need, and work without public power. This group has used the Hot Springs Library and the Mammoth Site for Field Days at different times, to keep members’ skills, and equipment, in readiness. 

This club has repeaters on Battle Mountain and on Mount Coolidge, which helps communications in Custer State Park. Towers are especially critical in areas in areas where there is no cell phone service. 

Due to some changes in street placement, brought about by the city, the current building will need to be vacated. The Hot Springs Amateur Radio Club is seeking a piece of land, possibly as a donation to their 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. The following is their wish list: the site needs to be accessible by a year-round well-maintained road; electricity access available; in an open, clear area that is not in a valley; no covenants forbidding antennas; room for a new clubhouse and storage,  along with parking. A request of one to two acres would be adequate. The club needs to expand some antennas to as much as 250 feet horizontally to increase their coverage.

The club has 38 members from as far south as Oelrichs and north to Piedmont. Each licensed member has a radio station at home, many have stations in their vehicles and there is a station at the clubhouse. Thirty minutes either before or after a club meeting is spent on training to keep members up to date. 

The Hot Springs Amateur Radio Club meets the first Thursday of the month at 7:30 pm. Check out the website at (the 0 is a zero.) for further information or talk to Phil Knapp, Lon Seaboldt in Hot Springs or Shawn Morgan from Oral.

Fall River County Herald Star

EDGEMONT OFFICE: 410 2nd Avenue   Edgemont, SD 57735-0660 | 605.662.7201
HOT SPRINGS OFFICE: 334 S. Chicago St.  Hot Springs, SD 57747 | 605.745.3930
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