In emergencies, amateur radio operators — “hams” — provide communications between shelters, assembly sites, Map Your Neighborhood captains and the Emergency Operations Center.

The local ham radio club, the Nehalem Bay Hamsters, was formed to practice their skills and learn more. Hamsters meet monthly and put on a weekly “net call in” exercise to test communication capabilities. Hamsters practice for the possibility of a disaster in the Nehalem Bay area and volunteer in the community to help with races, drills and training.

Amateur radio is part of the Tillamook County emergency plan. Hamsters coordinate with Tillamook Emergency Amateur Radio Service (TEARS) and Seaside Tsunami Amateur Radio Society (STARS) so they can interact in an emergency.

Ham radios use a variety of frequencies, sometimes referred to by their wavelength. A frequency plan systematizes the airwaves in each local area, state and nationwide. Communication protocols ensure that emergency-related messages can get through on the same frequency as someone chatting socially.

Each device that ham radio operators talk on is a station. People can talk directly from station-to-station (“simplex”) or through a repeater that adds power and broader coverage (“duplex”).

An Oregon Coast Repeater Group and an Oregon State Repeater Group both keep repeaters in good working order for all of us. You can buy a desk- or pocket-edition Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) repeater directory to carry or keep in your GoBag.

Get licensed

Ham radio operators pass a written exam and are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission. You can “hop on” by obtaining a Technician license, gain more expertise and frequency coverage with a General license, or be a real pro with an Extra license.

To prepare for and take the Technician-level (beginning level) amateur radio operator license exam, visit clatsophamclass.com or contact Roxann at hamclass@charter.net, and check our EVCNB calendar for upcoming trainings. Other resources are also available:

Get gear

Once licensed, hams obtain equipment. There are a variety of equipment types, from 5 watt handhelds, to mobile units with 12 volt batteries, to 50-100 watt tabletops that can “bounce” off the ionosphere. And there are many types of antennas, from the rubber duck to a simple whip, mobile mounts atop your car, and long wires with tuners that serve as temporary/emergency antennas with a long reach. Recommended ham radios maybe purchased at Nehalem Bay Fire and Rescue District Station 13.

When programming your UHF/VHF radio, check in with Bill Peek at wpeek@nehalemtel.net. He has a frequency chart, and may have software and a cable to program all the local channel parameters.

Remember to keep your radio batteries charged at all times — your radio might be needed at any moment.

Monthly Hamsters Meeting

The Hamsters meet on the third Monday of each month at 6 p.m. at Nehalem Bay Fire & Rescue (36375 Hwy 101 N., Nehalem OR 97131).
There are also dozens of ham radio groups in Oregon that are fun to visit when you travel.

Weekly Controlled Net Exercise

The Nehalem Bay Hamsters weekly controlled net amateur radio exercise is held at 6 p.m. each Thursday (excluding holidays). All licensed amateur radio operators are encouraged to join this net, which uses the Angora Peak repeater. The roll call for Nehalem Bay Hamsters, visitors and guests is followed by a second roll call on the Manzanita repeater or a simplex frequency.

Local repeaters:

  • Angora Peak, UHF 440.175, PL tone 100Hz, standard offset +5MHz
  • Manzanita, UHF 444.425, PL tone 107.2 Hz, standard offset +5 Mhz

To prepare for and take the Technician-level (beginning level) amateur radio operator license exam, visit clatsophamclass.com or contact Roxann at hamclass@charter.net, and check our EVCNB calendar for upcoming trainings. Other resources are also available:

Additional training is available through Oregon ACES. Visit the Oregon ACES website for more information.

Oregon has a combined Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) certification program designed to assure competent managers of emergency communication. For more information, visit Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

Ham volunteers are also encouraged to take Incident Command System Training offered by National Incident Response (NIMS).

To learn of other upcoming training opportunities, please visit our EVCNB calendar.

For more information or to get involved, contact Ann Morgan, Hamsters president, at amorgan1918@yahoo.com.
Learn more and access articles, classifieds and equipment and book reviews at eham.net.