Some of the Peace River Legion’s Amateur Radio participants including, left-right, Wayne Charlton, Brad Gravel, Shawn Arsenault, Lorraine Harris, Brian Whelan, Kyloe Dziengelowski, Barb Shoaf, Chad Sloaf and Dave Long. The group went to Figure 8 Lake recently to chat with people from throughout North America and South America via Ham Radio. Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Are you looking for a hobby that will bring people, electronics, and communication together?

Look no further than Peace River’s new Ham Radio course offered at the Peace River Legion. Take the opportunity to talk across town and the world without Internet or cell phones, all while having a fun and educational experience with amateur radio.

“Most people have heard of Amateur or “Ham” radio in their lives and maybe even a few of us remember family members who used to participate in this hobby,” says local Ham Radio enthusiast Chad Shoaf.

“Amateur radio has been around for just over 100 years, from the early days of Marconi to modern day techniques using satellites and computers, it has grown through the ages due to the ability to learn and experiment with technology,” he adds.

Shoaf has been enjoying the hobby for over 25 years, and he figured the resurgence of Ham Radio across the world the last few years was an indicator that he should start a club locally.

“It’s an interesting way to communicate with people all over the world,” says Shoaf.

“It’s not uncommon to talk to someone on another continent using only 100 watts of power and a homemade antenna.”

Shoaf began the radio course in January 2024, but plans to hold an additional course next January for those who may be interested. Shoaf says the course is eight weeks long and will provide education about radio waves, electrical components, propagation, and regulations.

“I set up a ham radio station at the Legion to provide members with something to do,” explains Shoaf.

“A lot of people saw it and showed interest. We advertised on the Legion Facebook page in December, and we registered 15 people by the time we started in early January,” he adds.

Participants of the Amateur Radio course will take an exam at the end to receive a license through Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to be authorized to practice the hobby. A certified examiner will go to the Legion to administer the test to all interested participants.

Shoaf says after the first course there are now 12 new Ham Radio operators in the Peace River area.

“When a person passes the exam, they receive a call sign which identifies who they are and where they are licensed,” says Shoaf.

“Everyone who passed the exam was really excited to get their call signs, it’s kind of like a new identity in a new world.”

Shoaf says with the angst, aggression and other issues in the world right now, he figured this would be a great way to communicate with the rest of the world without regular communication methods.

“It’s great to see people getting into the hobby and really enjoying themselves,” he says, adding it was an easy decision to introduce the course at the Legion.

“Peace River has always had Ham Radio operators in it, but – unfortunately – some have passed away. There didn’t seem to be a way for people who wanted to obtain their license unless they studied on their own.

“I learned Morse Code by light during my time in the Navy and some message formatting and a little about radio wave propagation,” says Shoaf of his background in amateur radio.

“After I left the Navy and obtained my Ham license, I had to convert the flashing lights that I was used to into sound. It was an interesting how my brain switched over from one sense to the other in order to do the same thing.”

Two weekends ago, Shoaf and his students set up their radio equipment for a day at Figure 8 Lake to contact people from throughout North America.

“There’s a new bunch of hams that like to get out and set up their equipment in parks,” he explains.

“We contacted people from all over North America and even South America via 2-way communication. It’s a great way to get away from the image that some people have of old guys doing Morse Code.”

The upcoming course will cost $50, covering books and some handouts. This year, the course was held on Wednesday nights from 7-9 p.m. and the group added extra time through the eight-week course for students to be able to get on the radio.

If you’re interested in learning all about Ham Radio and participating in the hobby, please call the Peace River Legion at (780) 624-1233 and leave a message for Shoaf.

by Emily Plihal Local Journalism Initiative Reporter – South Peace News –

Original Published on Mar 20, 2024 at 04:00