WILMINGTON — Ham radio operators from around the world tried to reach as many North Carolina counties as possible Sunday for the 2014 North Carolina QSO Party.
Jay Barton, a member of the Azalea Coast Amateur Radio Club, worked out of the U.S.S. North Carolina in Wilmington.
Ham operators earned extra points for connecting with the ship. Those with the most points earned awards.
"We've been working a lot of Ohio stations, New England stations, Kansas stations," Barton said.
When Barton and other operators hear from foreign countries, he says language barriers are rarely an issue.
"The Q codes are a universal language so that you can carry on a conversation in exchanging the normal, 'Hello my name is,' 'How are you?' 'Where are you?' 'What's your location?' with three-letter codes," ham operator Allan Pellnat said.
But the party isn't all fun and games for operators—it's also practice for emergency situations.
"It's old technology but it's still the only reliable communication, even satellite telephones the satellites go out because of the weather," Barton said. "We can get through somewhere, somebody, somehow all the time."
When voice operations are fuzzy, there's always Morse code.
"A weak signal on Morse code can be heard, copied, understood clearly when voice is completely unintelligible," Pellnat said.
As a licensed operator Barton said you get invited to the parties but the games could be over during emergencies.
"We're subject to be called up by the government at any time," Barton said.
According to the FCC there are about 19,000 licensed operators in the state and more than 700,000 nationwide.