Hannibal Amateur Radio Club President Donald Vary and radio operator Elizabeth Stone participate in the 2018 Field Day on June 24 in Hannibal.

This year's Amateur Radio Field Day exercise, "International Grid Chase" took place from 1 p.m. June 23 to 1 p.m. June 24 at the Marion County Ambulance District base in Hannibal.

Donald Vary, president of the Hannibal Amateur Radio Club, reported a total of 675 contacts were made by operators during that 24-hour period.

Hannibal members were joined by members of the Quincy, Ill., Amateur Radio Club for this international Field Day.

A new event this year was a Grid Chase, in which the operators contacted people in as many grids as possible. Each grid represents a specific location, measured by latitude and longitude.

The number of grids contacted by ham operators in Hannibal during Field Day had not been totaled by Sunday afternoon when the Field Day ended.

Vary reported that Hannibal is located in grid EM49. Hannibal's latitude is 3944.15 degrees and its longitude is 9120 degrees.

Each year during Field Day the local ham operators encourage visitors to come and learn about ham radio, and this year "we had about eight visitors, with half interested in becoming amateur radio operators," he said.

Vary invited the public to attend the club's meetings, which are at 7 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month at the Marion County Ambulance District base on U.S. 61. The club has about 52 members.

Quincy residents may attend meetings at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month at the Red Cross building in Quincy.

Vary noted that he also is emergency coordinator for Marion County, and Elizabeth Stone, who attended Field Day, is his assistant. Ham radio operators are not needed often, he said, "but it's good to be prepared. ... There are emergencies that can happen, where you aren't going to have power to operate your cell phone."

Many of the local club members are weather spotters, and their information is sent to the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

Stone reported she has been a ham operator for less than two years and is still learning Morse Code.

Learning Morse Code is not a requirement to be a ham operator, Vary said, but some operators still use it.

Listing reasons to become an amateur radio operator, Vary said, "Kids find it fun and adventurous. We build a lot of our own equipment. We build our own satellites and talk to operators on international space stations."

He added that "The fun of it is the contest we just did and talking to people all over the world. One day I talked to people in England and Norway."

There is no minimum age limit for ham operators, he said. Some join at age 5 and get their license. "They enjoy what ham operators can do," he said. "You can send pictures over the air."

He invited anyone who would like to learn more to contact him at 573-221-8205 or by email at kd0hhn@hotmail.com .

Reach reporter bev Darr at bev.darr@courierpost.com.