(TNS) - Jeremy Barfield and Carter Grant stood in the backyard of the Huff House on Saturday afternoon attempting to make contact with radio frequencies during the annual Georgia QSO Party, a gathering of amateur radio enthusiasts, also know as ham radio operators.
It wasn't long after that that the men, members of the Dalton Amateur Radio Club, made contact with the International Space Station.
"It feels achieving," said Grant of Chatsworth. "Everyone doesn't get to reach that far."
The contact lasted a couple minutes, according to Barfield. Grant said they performed what's called a "slow scan."
"That's when a picture is sent and turned into sound," Grant said. "It's really interesting."
Barfield joined the club over a year ago and said he loves it.
"I have a lot of fun making contact from my home radio to people in Europe or even Japan," he said. "I like seeing how far I can reach with 1,000 watts and a wire."
The Dalton members held their party at the Huff House on Selvidge Street in Dalton as a tribute to Willard Strain, a late member who purchased a gazebo for the historic home.
David Stanley, one of the local club's 40-plus members, said their club is a special event station.
"We have a special call sign (W4D) issued to commemorate the Carpet Capital of the World and demonstrate the Huff House," Stanley said.
The objective of a QSO party is for radio amateurs outside of Georgia to make contact with as many stations in all of Georgia's 159 Georgia, according to the Georgia QSO website. A contact is often referred to by the Q code QSO. This is the 58th year for the state QSO party.
Dalton had two radios set up for the contest.
"It depends how seriously you take it as to how many contacts you make," he said. "But you can make hundreds."
Stanley said members participate all over the world.
"Maybe they are at home, in a vehicle, wherever. They can make contact with us and still get Whitfield County."
Stanley explained the contest as a signal report, which tells the person on the opposite end how well they can hear you. Then both parties log into a software program to grade the connection quality.
The parties are held once a year for two days, but Dalton only participates in one day.
"We're just here for fun," Philip Rafey, public information officer for the Dalton Amateur Radio Club, said. "We like to get together socially."
Greg Williams, president of the club, said it has been in existence since the early 1980s. They meet once a month at the Dalton Public Works building.
"We perform services, we're not allowed to make any money doing it," Williams said.
Members help by serving the Whitfield Emergency Management Agency (EMA), the Georgia EMA and Federal EMA.
"They will call 'hams' when there is a loss of communication or cellphone towers aren't working," Williams said. "We can still work, there’s no backbone required for ham radio structure to stay in place."
Williams said when there is any kind of disaster, the Red Cross will call them to handle communications.
"If we have a disaster and all of our communications go down, we'll use radio," Williams said. "Radio will never fail."
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