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Vermilion Range Amateur Radio Club Field Day makes connections around the world

Lead Summary

On June 23 and 24 the Vermilion Range Amateur Radio Club participated in their third annual Field Day event.
Field Day is sponsored by the American Radio Relay League and is a 24-hour event where amateur radio operators practice operating in less than ideal conditions out in the field.
This event serves as both a demonstration and practice if “hams” were called upon to assist with communications during an emergency.
The Vermilion Range Amateur Radio Club was formed in 2016 by a group of Ely area amateur radio operators.
Ironically, 40 years ago, on the same weekend, same days to be exact, the Vermilion Amateur Radio Club (a former club that was from Ely) held their Field Day in Whiteside Park.
The Vermilion Range Amateur Radio Club strives to be available for emergency communications and education.
“This fits right inline with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)”, said Ely ham Dave Schmidt, whose background in engineering, computers, and weather observation led him to amateur radio.
Schmidt added that Amateur Radio is alive and well within the science community whether it’s physics or meteorology.
The National Weather Service (NWS) staffs their office with hams when storms are in the northland because many Skywarn weather spotters are also ham radio operators.
This provides real-time observations to be relayed to the NWS so they can compare their data to actual observations.
Morse Code is not required for an amateur radio license however it is still a very popular mode.
Winton ham Terry Jackson, was a Russian Morse Intercept Operator in the Naval Security Group stationed in Europe during the Cold War.
Today Jackson still uses Morse Code in amateur radio and teaches Morse Code over the internet to those who want to learn.
Lee Obermoeller, an Ely ham, has almost 4,000 contacts around the world using FT8, a digital mode of radio communication that was created by Astrophysicist and Nobel Prize recipient Joseph Taylor.
FT8 sends different tones from a computer across a 15 second transmission which are decoded by other hams on the receiving end.
The hams take turns sending and receiving until exchanges are made and confirmed.
Obermoeller came to Ely from California and was a member of a Community Emergency Response Team that responded to various disasters and emergencies.
While Field Day showcases the ability to communicate without the power grid, internet, and telephone, it also serves as a great educational and social function.
Visitors were encouraged to ask questions and even get on the air for a contact.
Ely resident Bernie Palcher stepped up to the mic and gave the club’s callsign “K0VRC” to a ham out of Alberta. Canada. The Canadian operator came back with his exchange and Palcher gave the club’s exchange. The Canadian operated confirmed with “QSL 73” which means confirm and best wishes.
The club made 271 contacts using Voice, Morse Code, and Digital Modes. Emails were exchanged using radio signals rather than depending on the internet.
Contacts were also made using orbiting satellites to make two-way communication.
Ely Police Officer Christian Deinhammer watched a satellite contact happen between Ely and Toronto as Eagles Nest Township ham Dave Quick transmitted on the uplink frequency and listened on the downlink frequency.
The Vermilion Range Amateur Radio Club meets weekly, offers education, training, and administers the FCC license exams upon request.
Anyone interested in Amateur Radio is more than welcome to come to a meeting or contact the club. For more information check out the club’s website at or call 218-235-0059.

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