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Binghamton Amateur Radio Association Celebrates Marconi Day

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Over a dozen amateur radio enthusiasts celebrated International Marconi Day, to honor the 144th birthday of Italian engineer Guglielmo Marconi. Marconi pioneered the first amateur radio and experimented with wireless communication in Binghamton.

Members of the Binghamton Amateur Radio Association, or BARA, connected with Marconi fans around the world through their ham radios. Allen Lutins, former president of BARA and organizer of the event, said it’s the second year that Binghamton is participating in this global celebration.

“All around the world at sites associated with his life and his work, like his home in Italy and his labs and, amateur radio operators are setting up stations to try to talk to each other and make a contest to see how many ham radio owners can be contacted in a 24 hour period.” - Allen Lutins, organizer

The Association established their headquarters at the Marconi Tower on 45 Lewis St in Downtown Binghamton, the sight of Marconi’s first experiments with wireless communication. In 1913, radio messages were exchanged between two towers in Binghamton and two towers in Scranton. Only one tower remains and is recognized as a historic landmark.

“This is the birthplace of a lot of technology. Birthplace of IBM, Link Simulators, which was the first virtual reality ever, so I think it’s just part of the larger picture Binghamton played in high tech.” - Allen Lutins, organizer

The youngest participant, 14-year-old Gannon Dooner said today was an important opportunity to practice his skills and communicate with people across the globe.

“It’s really a lot of fun, the community is a big part of it. There are clubs and everyone into ham radio seems to be very friendly and accepting” - Gannon Dooner

Lutins maintains that ham radios are still important even in the modern digital age. In recent natural disasters, the Amateur Radio Relay League flew radio enthusiasts to areas without power, to help locals communicate when they lost cell phone service.

“Amateur radio operators play a vital role in providing emergency communication when other communications go down. Cell phones only towers have batteries that only operate for 24-48 hours. And when 10,000 people are trying to make cell phone calls at the same time, most of them are not going to get through.” - Allen Lutins, organizer

In addition to hosting classes and information sessions, BARA holds regular meetings every third Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at the Kopernik Observatory in Vestal.