“When all else fails, there is always ham radio.”  A cliche but also very true.  In emergencies, amateur radio operators — “hams” — provide communications between local shelters, assembly sites, and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Manzanita’s local ham radio club, the Nehalem Bay Hamsters, was formed to practice and enhance communication skills. Hamsters meet bimonthly as well as conduct a weekly “call in” net to test communication capabilities. They practice for the possibility of any type of disaster in the Nehalem Bay area and volunteer in the community to help with races, drills and training.

Ham radio operators have at their disposal a wide variety of radio frequencies.  This capability ensures communication both locally, statewide,  and nationwide.  Communication methods ensure that emergency-related messages 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 must 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.

The Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay offers from time to time an opportunity to learn and pass the entry-level ham license test, the Technician Class.  Look under News and Events and check our EVCNB calendar for upcoming classes. Other resources are also available:

Get gear

Once licensed, hams supply their own radios. There are a variety of equipment types 5-watt handhelds, car-mounted radios, or 100-watt tabletops capable of reaching around the world.  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.

Much of the local communication needs are met using handheld radios capable of working both radio-to-radio and through repeaters which greatly extend the effective range of these small radios.

Regardless of the radio used, remember to keep your radio operational and the batteries charged at all times — your radio might be needed at any moment.

Quarterly Hamsters Meeting

The Hamsters meet on the even-numbered months on the third Monday at 6 p.m. at Nehalem Bay Fire & Rescue (36375 Hwy 101 N., Nehalem OR 97131).

Weekly Controlled Net Exercise

The Nehalem Bay Hamsters weekly controlled net amateur radio exercise is held at approximately 6:45 p.m. following the Yellow Radio Net each Thursday (excluding holidays). All licensed amateur radio operators are encouraged to join this net which uses the Manzanita repeater.

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

The Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay offers from time to time an opportunity to learn and pass the entry-level ham license test, the Technician Class.  Look under News and Events and check our EVCNB calendar for upcoming classes. Other resources are also available:

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 Steve Dexter, AA7KJ, Hamsters president, at stevedexter51@gmail.com.
Learn more and access articles, classifieds and equipment and book reviews at eham.net.