The Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club hosted the 2013 ARRL Southwestern Division Convention in September at the Marriott Hotel in Buellton. The conference brought together amateur radio enthusiasts from all of Southern California and Arizona to share and learn from the experts on specific topics of concern.
The conference stressed two areas of interest: emergency preparedness and attracting young students to the art of Amateur Radio.
An excellent emergency preparedness forum was presented by Roy Dugger, KF6QEJ, from the Santa Maria Fire Department. Bev Matheson, KJ6RSX, of Fontana extolled her unprecedented success in bringing amateur radio to the elementary schools. She has 27 young fourth- and fifth-grade students building a radio station, studying and passing their Technician Class licensing test to be “HAMS,” with more than 30 other students waiting to enroll. Through radio contacts in other countries, Matheson teaches geography, language skills, communication skills, writing skills and even math when the students learn about radio waves.
Levi Maaia, K6LCM, who teaches at Anacapa School in Santa Barbara showed a PowerPoint presentation of his class, building, assembling and packaging a transmitter, television camera, weather instruments and tracking devices into an 8-pound “load,” launched with a balloon that rose over 100,000 feet and was retrieved 50 miles away.
The conference was organized by Santa Barbara local Al Soenke, WA6VNN, president of the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club (SBARC). The outstanding speakers were enlisted by Rod Fritz, WB9KMO. Kate Hutton, K6HTN, of Cal Tech and Andy Seybold, W6AM, who works with Washington to equitably coordinate the assignment of bands and frequencies between commercial and amateur radio were among the best of the best. Gordon West, WB6NOA, entertained the group during the banquet as the evening Master of Ceremonies.
The Marriott Hotel in Buellton proved to be a perfect venue for the vendors, the speakers/presenters and the hotel guests. The hotel provided numerous conference rooms, all on one floor, and excellent catering facilities.
Dorothy Oksner, KJ6UGL, and Rick Whitaker, KG6VLB, handled the registration and accepted the complements from the several hundred guests who went away with new skills and new enthusiasm for Amateur Radio.
The conference stressed that in an emergency our public servants — fire, police and EMTs — will not be able to provide immediate assistance to everyone. When cellphone repeaters and landlines are down, it is HAM radio that has always provided communication. This has been tested time and again with examples being Hurricane Katrina, the 9/11 attack, Hurricane Sandy, Fukashima and our local fires.
SBARC (sbarc.org) is a nonprofit public benefit corporation first organized in 1920 to promote education for persons interested in telecommunications, to disseminate information about scientific discoveries and progress in the field, and to train communicators for public service and emergency communications. SBARC also encourages and sponsors experiments in electronics and promotes the highest standards of practice and ethics in the conduct of communications.