Members of the Amateur Radio Society of Odisha got together at an uninhabited island within the Chilika lake to test their operational skill and technology to help the public during natural calamities such as cyclonic storms.The team had chosen this island as it is inaccessible by conventional telecommunication network. During their two-day camp at the island that ended on Sunday evening, eight licensed private HAM radio operators of Odisha experimented transmission of messages to the outside world through radio signals.‘Used solar power’ It was an attempt to simulate real-life situation during any natural calamity when all conventional modes of communication cease to exist. “To simulate such a situation, we remained cut-off from the outside world for two days and used solar power to operate our HAM radios. A bamboo pole was used as an antenna tower,” said Gurudatta Panda, one of the participants. Amateur radio operators can link up with other HAM enthusiasts through ‘short wave’ radio frequency.Contacted 130 operators During the event, these operators, despite their lack of infrastructure, managed to contact around 130 Amateur radio operators around the world. Around 90 of these were from different parts of India while others were from countries including Denmark, Russia, Indonesia, Thailand and Australia. On Sunday morning they made contacts with HAM enthusiasts of neighbouring countries except Pakistan.According to ARSO members, the importance of HAM radios during natural calamities has not diminished in this era of advanced communication. According to them, during the Titli cyclone, Gajapati district was completely cut-off from the outside world for a few hours. During that time HAM radio with the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force became the main means of communication of the district administration with the outside world.A big help ARSO members feel that an increase in the number of Amateur radio enthusiasts in the State can be a major help to society in a cyclone and flood-prone State like Odisha. On Sunday, Puri district administration representatives arrived at the island to watch the experiments being conducted by the Amateur radio activists.“There are youths with technical education in electronics and telecommunication in all parts of Odisha who can take up Amateur radio as a hobby and help society at the time of need. In future, we may have HAM radio operators in all blocks of the State,” said Priti Ranjan Mekap, another participant.Apart from Mr. Panda and Mr. Mekap, other enthusiasts who participated in this event were Samir Ranjan Panda, Umakant Swain, Chandrasekhar Patnaik, Sunil Biswal, Tusharkant Mishra and Rajesh Kumar.