- Associated Press - Saturday, October 22, 2016

MARICOPA, Ariz. (AP) - Amateur radio operators from around Arizona are gathered in the town of Maricopa this weekend, celebrating a time before internet and cellphones.

The American Radio Relay League’s state convention was in its second and final day Saturday of presentations, tower climbing and the launch of a high-altitude balloon that will help with future radio communications, reported the Casa Grande Dispatch (https://bit.ly/2eo5YeO).

The event, known as Copafest, brings amateur ham radio operators from all over the state.

Participants can see vendor exhibits with manufacturers of radio, electronics and other technology.

Organizers with the Maricopa Amateur Radio Association, which is hosting, say ham radio is still popular for several reasons. Many enjoy being able to hear different languages by trying to communicate across the globe.

“People get into it for different reasons. Some are highly technical people, and some are preparing for the end of the world,” said association spokesman Steve Miller. “I am into software-defined radio, instead of a typical radio with knobs and buttons, I have a little black box I can hook up to a computer and translate languages.”

The Arizona Near Space Research planned to send up the high-altitude balloon Saturday.

“We’ll use the ham radios to track the balloon and recover the payload when it returns to Earth,” Miller explained. “If everything goes right, we’ll watch it all on the big screen at UltraStar.”

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Information from: Casa Grande Dispatch.


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