Throughout most of the day and into the night on Dec. 26, 2015, Ellis County Amateur Radio club members who are part of the Ellis County Amateur Radio Emergency Service,, used their communications skills to keep track of tornado activity that came through the county.

Hams were strategically placed while storm spotting. They moved where the storm(s) moved, keeping a safe distance. The information gathered was then passed on to NOAA weather personnel who rely on ham radio operators to report accurate and timely information. Had Internet and cell phones failed, ham radios would still have been functional.

Guest speakers for the Jan. 21, 2016 meeting were Dave Grieg N3BUO and Gary Pannell WA5FWC. They gave a presentation on antennas, DX logging and programming.

Dxing is where ham radio enthusiasts work stations outside their own country.

“It’s one thing to talk to South Africa and get a QSL card. (These cards are fun to collect from all over the world and act as written confirmation that there was a contact made.) If I want to send one back that costs $2 to send overseas, which can get quite expensive,” Pannell said. “If you use a logging system, you can reach a lot more countries with three different modes of communication.”

Gary uses a program called N1MM for contesting as well as DXKeeper. DXKeeper is a free, comprehensive amateur logging software that records and manages contacts commonly known as QSOs.

“If you really want to be a Dxer, I suggest you work CW (Morse Code),” Pannell went on to say. “It’s so easy to work and opens the world up.”

In other news, some of the members recently completed ICS (Incident Command System) 400: Advanced ICS for Complex Incidents. They were Keith Beck, Dale Lester, Tom Pegues and Sharon Wrobel.

The Ellis County Amateur Radio Club will have its regularly scheduled monthly meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Training Center (County Farm), located at 2272 Farm-to-Market 878 in Waxahachie. The presentation will feature the club’s “Old Timers.” We invite you to come and honor these 50-plus years amateur radio operators who gave of themselves to be available in times of disasters and ask questions. Refreshments will be served and the public is welcome.

Until next time, 73 y’all!