Sunday, April 8, 2012

When you least expect it--Your radio CAN help!

Editors Note: The following article is from
Dateline Baja 03:15 UTC……..Okay, I just always wanted to say that!

What follows is not much of a story—it was simply HAMs helping fellow HAMs—and reminds me why I keep the radio turned on.

It's Friday night and I’m working at my computer in the motor home here in Playas de Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico—the grandkids are here raiding my potato chips and M&M stash (I need a better hiding place)—even with all that QRM in the background I am able to hear a scratchy call on the PARC repeater (147.730) across the border in San Diego County.

It went something like this: "This is KJ6KPR...... I need someone to make a call to my propane company as we are up here at Mount Laguna and are out of gas for heating, and it’s freezing up here."

There were a couple of come backs one from N6KI a PARC member who was mobile at the time and a couple of others tried to copy the message to be relayed a couple of times—in any case, I chimed in as well—said I had copied all but wanted a verification on his location which was at: – the Shriners’ camp --approximately 6000 feet up, near Mount Laguna. 

I called the propane company on my VOIP line from here in the Baja and got a night-time answering service; Tracy was at the other end of the line; I explained to him Steve's (KJ6KPR’s) predicament and that I was relaying this message to him via HAM radio. He responded with the usual surprise "Really??" Yes, we are still around and doing what HAMs have always done—helping out when help is needed. Tracy, the night phone OP, said he would have the company call me within 30 min....and I relayed that back to Steve (KJ6KPR).

Of course, by now you are asking yourself WHY he didn’t just call on the phone, himself, RIGHT? Up there at the camp there is no public phone and no land line available at that time of the evening, and his cell phone had no signal up there either. But—he DID have his HT that did, with a marginal signal, get in to the Palomar Amateur Radio Club repeater.

How cold was it, you might be wondering as you sit in your warm home? 

@ 03:15 UTC 44.0 °F 42.0 °F -1.0 °F -100.00in ENE 4.0mph 7.0mph 15%

I get a call back from Kamps Propane. Rick was on the phone; he wanted to know if Steve (KJ6KPR) had an account and the usual info. He said he would call me back after he consulted his files. A short time later the VOIPline rang again and Rick, the propane guy, was unable to locate Steve's (KJ6KPR) account. So another relay or two or three from me on the phone with Rick and on two meters with Steve ensued. Finally Rick said he would head up the hill to replenish Steve’s propane gas.

AT 5:03 UTC Steve (KJ6KPR) calls me (his signal still marginal on the repeater) and reports happily that Rick, the propane guy, arrived and was in the process of filling his tank. He thanked me and all those on the repeater who tried to help out. 

Tom KI6IET—a PARC member, also made contact with the night service, but got cut off.

Thanks to Steve’s (KJ6KPR’s) new HAM radio license and radio, he was able to help himself and his family late on a cold evening—one that would shortly turn into a truly frigid night.


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