Wireless operators help keep people safe

In a field just off Sand Cut Road Saturday, the Jim Bell Wireless Association 

held its annual Winter Field Day.

This event was held simultaneously all over North America. Operators from the U.S. and Canada assembled in their given locations, set up their equipment, and communicated.

The different radio contacts are logged into their computer system, and these results can be viewed from there.

But if a signal comes in from Europe, South America, or any place on Earth, they don’t turn it down. They will log it in, too.

It’s a friendly competition between groups.

Currently, the Jim Bell Wireless Group has around 15 to 20 members, who join in when they can.

“We go to a training class to become a Storm Spotter,” Tom Crenshaw said.

He demonstrated how the radios they had in the field literally ran off of car batteries.

He explained that when a storm hits, power goes down and so does the internet.

“Digital mode is a method of communication that uses a digital signal,” Crenshaw said.

Joe Taylor, who works at Princeton University, is the one who wrote the software for the program. He also wrote the software that allows communication with the Voyager and other satellites, Crenshaw added.

Not only is Taylor a Nobel Prize winner for detecting Quasars, he’s a Ham Radio operator.

“He developed this software as an offshoot of his work with JPL ( the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA),” George Milligan said.

Milligan is the president of the Jim Bell Wireless Association of Butler County.

Crenshaw explained that there are several digital modes as well as digital voice modes. 

These signals simply travel through a repeater, and are picked up by another receiver in a different location.

Crenshaw spoke about dipoles, insulators and radio waves; sign waves and megahertz.

Butler County EMA (Emergency Management Agency) Director Rosie Till attended the event with her daughter.

She sat down with Crenshaw to get a quick lesson in how the radio operators help the EMA during storms and severe weather.

Together, these two groups coordinate and work together to help keep the people of Butler county safe during times of crisis.

For more information about the Jim Bell Wireless group or to join, please visit www.k4tns.com.