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Radio club debuts new facility

  • Joe Craft and Dave Kleeber demonstrate the operation of ham radios at the recently opened Hill Country Amateur Radio Club’s new communications center in Kerrville earlier this month. BULLETIN PHOTO/Tracy Thayer
    Joe Craft and Dave Kleeber demonstrate the operation of ham radios at the recently opened Hill Country Amateur Radio Club’s new communications center in Kerrville earlier this month. BULLETIN PHOTO/Tracy Thayer

On March 5, The Hill Country Amateur Radio Club celebrated the grand opening of their new communications facility in Kerrville adjacent to the Hill Country Youth Event Center at the River Star Arts and Events Park. Refreshments were served as club members talked with visitors and answered questions about “ham radio.”

The station was dedicated as a memorial to a former Hill Country Amateur Radio Club member, Bill Tynan, who passed away in 2018. Bill was one of the founders of AMSAT, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation and was influential in placing satellites into space for scientific and amateur radio communications purposes.

Tynan’s multi-decade contributions to the advancement of Amateur Radio are legendary and have been nationally recognized. His former call sign, W3XO, has been officially dedicated for use by the HCARC’s radio station as a memorial to him. Bill’s widow, Mattie Tynan, was on hand for the center’s dedication and cut the ribbon to officially open the facility.

During the event, a real-time demonstration of international communications was on-going throughout the open house. The radio system can also be used for communications within a small radius like Kerr County. The system bounces a signal off the atmosphere and can communicate with 156 countries worldwide.

The HCARC also has a trailer set up with a generator to take on site where communications are needed. Amateur Radio Operators (known as “hams”) are viewed as a critical and reliable component in the communications infrastructure “when all else fails.” Ham radios have been used during wildfires, tornadoes, and industrial disasters when communications are not available through regular means. Ham radio operators work hand in hand with emergency management officials throughout the world.

The Kerrville based Hill Country Amateur Radio Club has been in operation for over forty years and averages 100 members. Club President Bill Stegemueller emphasized the value of a centralized facility made possible with the assistance of the Kerr County Commissioners along with a healthy club investment and a lot of volunteer hours. Plans are already in the formative stage to expand the station’s capabilities over time to include additional operating positions and a permanent emergency generator.

“Working together,” said Stegemueller “our member’s skills, resources and enthusiasm will take us to the next level in serving our county and surrounding communities. The Hill County is a magnet for many hams moving into the area. We welcome the opportunity to greet them and integrate their skills in our ongoing activities.” Stegemueller also remarked “We invite any interested Hill Country residents to come see what ham radio is all about and if interested, take advantage of our training classes and fellowship. We encourage interested people to join us during one of our regular meetings held the first Thursday of every month at 7pm in the Union Church building on Memorial Boulevard.”

Throughout the year, Amateur Radio license training classes and testing will be conducted atthe new facility. Training is available to anyone in the community wishing to learn about the many facets of ham radio and, if interested, how to assist with emergency communications when the need arises. The technician training course is $30 and the book used for the course is also $30, available through Amazon. The next training course is slated to begin on April 9 and will run for four Saturdays. For more information on the technician training course contact Dale Gaudier at dale.gaudier@gmail.com .

“This is a lifelong hobby that can interest all ages,” remarked Bill Stegemueller, Club President.

For more information about the cub, contact Bill Stegemueller, President, at 830-796-5799 or bill@stegemueller.com or Clayson Lambert, Treasurer, at 830-285-8580. The club’s website, currently being updated, is kerrhams.org.