Entire local family licensed ham radio operators

One Hettinger family has gained a new skill, with the Ham Radio.

PHOTO—New Hettinger Ham operators with their instructor. (Back Row) Isaac Howard showing his new FCC license, Instructor Dennis Howard, Mother of the boys, Kerri Howard.  (Front Row) Levi, Elijah, and Luke Howard, showing off their new 2-meter handhelds. (Courtesy Photo)
PHOTO—New Hettinger Ham operators with their instructor. (Back Row) Isaac Howard showing his new FCC license, Instructor Dennis Howard, Mother of the boys, Kerri Howard.  (Front Row) Levi, Elijah, and Luke Howard, showing off their new 2-meter handhelds. (Courtesy Photo)

Five members of the Howard family of Hettinger recently received their amateur radio licenses.

The four boys (Isaac, Levi, Luke, and Elijah Howard), along with their mother, Kerri Howard, each earned the Technician Class Ham License at testing sessions in Bismarck and Dickinson. The testing is conducted by volunteer licensed hams.

The boys have been studying ham radio with their grandfather, Dennis Howard, throughout the school year.  He has been a ham for 49 years, being first licensed in 1967.  The test consists of questions on electronics, rules and regulations, and amateur practice.  In addition, Dennis also taught them how to solder, and spent some time learning the International Morse Code.  “Code is no longer required on any ham exams any longer,” he added, though it still is a part of the amateur landscape.

Kerri Howard has been assisting with the boys’ studying for the exam, and she discovered that she was doing well on some practice tests, and decided, with a little encouragement, to take the exam herself.  She passed with flying colors.

Kerri’s husband Wade, is also a licensed ham, as is the boys’ grandmother, Ruth Howard.

So now the whole Howard family, grandpa, grandma, mom, dad, and the four boys, now hold FCC-issued amateur radio licenses.

Dennis said he will be opening some ham classes in the fall for the general public, and welcomes contact to assess when to start and if a public place will be needed.  Otherwise the classes will be held at his home, to maximize the show-and-tell atmosphere of an amateur station and equipment.

Members of the Howard Hettinger Hams, as they are calling themselves this year, will be participating in the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise, June 25-26 at 1002  6th Street North, on the hill.

Since 1933, ham radio operators across North America have established temporary ham radio stations in public locations during field day to showcase the science and skill of amateur radio. This event is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend. It is a hike up the hill to the yellow hut where they will be operating, but it can be driven, if you are so inclined.

For over 100 years, amateur radio—sometimes called ham radio—has allowed people from all walks of life to experiment with electronics and communications techniques, as well as provide a free public service to their communities during a disaster, all without needing a cell phone or the Internet. Field Day demonstrates ham radio’s ability to work reliably under any conditions from almost any location and create an independent communications network. Over 35,000 people from thousands of locations participated in Field Day in 2015.

“It’s easy for anyone to pick up a computer or smartphone, connect to the Internet and communicate, with no knowledge of how the devices function or connect to each other,” said Sean Kutzko, of the American Radio Relay League, the national association for Amateur Radio.

“But if there’s an interruption of service or you’re out of range of a cell tower, you have no way to communicate. Ham radio functions completely independent of the Internet or cell phone infrastructure, can interface with tablets or smartphones, and can be set up almost

anywhere in minutes. That’s the beauty of Amateur Radio during a communications outage.”

“Hams can literally throw a wire in a tree for an antenna, connect it to a battery-powered transmitter and communicate halfway around the world,” Kutzko added. “Hams do this by using a layer of Earth’s atmosphere as a sort of mirror for radio waves. In today’s electronic do-it-yourself (DIY) environment, ham radio remains one of the best ways for people to learn about electronics, physics, meteorology, and numerous other scientific disciplines, and is a huge asset to any community during disasters if the standard communication infrastructure goes down.”

Anyone may become a licensed Amateur Radio operator. There are over 725,000 licensed hams in the United States, as young as 5 and as old as 100. And with clubs such as Howard Hettinger Hams, it’s easy for anybody to get involved right here in Hettinger.

For more information about Field Day, contact Dennis Howard at 701-400-1574 or visit www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio.