Murrayites keep ham radio alive and thriving
Apr 22, 2019 03:07PM
By Shaun Delliskave
Dan Lundwall manages three radios at an event command post. (Photo courtesy Dan Lundwall)
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
In a time when social media platforms are often criticized more for their divisiveness than praised for their ability to bring people together, several Murray residents are tapping into a different network to forge connections worldwide.
One of Murray’s newest niches, the Murray Amateur Radio Club (MARC), has quickly made inroads within the community and is attracting new interest into one of the oldest forms of technical, social networking. Dan Lundwall (radio handle: N7XDL), who founded the club, hopes others catch on to the fun of ham radios.
“I'm sure everyone knows an older person who is along in years who is a ham radio operator. There has been a surge of new ham radio operators that are filling in the ranks and working hand in hand with the older generation. There have been more new licenses being delivered from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) now than at any time in the past,” Lundwall said.
Lundwall, a former competitive speed skater in the 1970s, first saw a ham radio in action when the only way he could call home from his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Concepcion, Chile, was by radio. The ham radio operator was able to make a telephone patch, and he spoke to his parents via ham radio, and it has interested him ever since.
“When I came home, I realized that you had to learn Morse code to get a license, so that's when I called it quits, as I have a learning disability with memorizing abstract things. It wasn't until the FCC dropped the Morse code requirements that I returned to learn more about ham radio. It took me a year to feel confident enough to take my first technician's license test; I aced it. It's been smooth sailing ever since.”
MARC is a social club where ham radio operators meet and discuss all things ham radio. The club started through Lundwall’s involvement in the Salt Lake County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) group, where he worked to recruit local ham radio operators for assistance.
“I found out that Murray didn't have a club, so I started one. We now have from 12 to 20 people that come out regularly to enjoy learning about ham radio,” Lundwall said. “We've made two types of antennas, learned about emergency communications protocols, visited other clubs, have had guest speakers and a whole lot more.”
For the Great Utah ShakeOut statewide earthquake drill, MARC worked with Murray City Fire Department to provide additional emergency communications for the fire department as they were dispatched to various locations. Murray’s drill assumed that most methods of communication were affected, including the trunked (pooled radio channels) systems that Murray City uses, and as such, in a real emergency, they will be relying on ham radio to fill that gap.
The club also provides coverage of Murray’s Fourth of July 5K race and parade. Murray City's Parks and Recreation Department asked MARC to provide communication to know where the issues are throughout the race, as well as at the parade.
According to Lundwall, “Last year something happened on the parade route, and the director didn't know why there [was a] delay. She ended up doing things like having the kids dance the Hokey Pokey and other dance songs to at least provide entertainment until the parade got caught up. Had she had communications throughout the parade route, she could have done something about the delays.”
Still, Lundwall hopes others see that ham operators are not just needed in a crisis, but they can have fun being an operator as well. “Ever since the Morse code requirement was taken out it was thought that the hobby would die off. It turns out there were more older folks than young folks in the hobby, until now. The future of ham radio looks bright.”
More information about MARC can be found online at www.murrayarc.org.