Fort Macon will become radio station for a day

Fort Macon State Park will become a communications outpost for a day during the NC Science Festival by operating a HAM amateur radio station at the fort March 29. Visitors can stop by and learn about a worldwide communications system that developed decades before the Internet was even a vague idea. Volunteer HAM radio operators have a long history of suddenly becoming communications hubs during extreme emergencies.

Fort Macon's special HAM radio postcard with its call signal N4F.
Fort Macon’s HAM radio postcard with call signal N4F.

The NC Science Festival is a statewide series of events that showcase science, technology, engineering and mathematics under the leadership of UNC’s Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. It’ll include hands-on activities, science talks, lab tours, nature experiences, exhibits and performances March 28-April 13. More details are here.

Fort Macon Ranger Paul Terry and Maintenance Mechanic John Schell will operate the station and contact other HAM operators around the globe from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on that Saturday. “We have been talking about doing some type of radio program/event at the park for a while now, and the science fest seemed like a good fit with its focus on science and technology,” Terry said.

The fort was given a special event call sign of N4F for the day, and developed a special QSL card – a type of postcard that HAM operators mail to each other to document making successful radio contact. The operators have made a sub-hobby of collecting these cards.

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