Amateur radio clubs welcome public for field day events this weekend

Staff Reports Posted 23 June 2017 at 10:10 am

File photos by Tom Rivers: George Lloyd of Brockport, left, takes a turn at the radio during the Field Day event last June for the Orleans County Amateur Radio Club, which holds its event at the Orleans County Emergency Management Office in Albion. The operators will give visitors a chance to be on the air during Field Days.

Two amateur radio clubs will be showing the public how they communicate around the world this weekend

The Orleans County Amateur Radio Club will hold its field day event at the Orleans County Emergency Management Office on 14064 West County House Rd. in Albion. Ham operators will give non-hams a chance to get on the air with the help of a licensed operator.

Another group of ham radio operators, the Community Amateur Radio Club, will be at the Oak Orchard Lighthouse at Point Breeze this weekend trying to make contacts with other ham operators around the world.

Since 1933, ham radio operators across North America have established temporary ham radio stations in public locations during Field Day to showcase the science and skill of Amateur Radio. This event is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend.

For over 100 years, Amateur Radio — sometimes called ham radio — has allowed people from all walks of life to experiment with electronics and communications techniques, as well as provide a free public service to their communities during a disaster, all without needing a cell phone or the Internet.

Field Day demonstrates ham radio’s ability to work reliably under any conditions from almost any location and create an independent communications network. Over 35,000 people from thousands of locations participated in Field Day in 2016.

“It’s easy for anyone to pick up a computer or smartphone, connect to the Internet and communicate, with no knowledge of how the devices function or connect to each other,” said Sean Kutzko of the American Radio Relay League, the national association for Amateur Radio. “But if there’s an interruption of service or you’re out of range of a cell tower, you have no way to communicate. Ham radio functions completely independent of the Internet or cell phone infrastructure, can interface with tablets or smartphones, and can be set up almost anywhere in minutes. That’s the beauty of Amateur Radio during a communications outage.”

Amateur radio operators will be at the Oak Orchard Lighthouse this weekend, trying to connect with other ham operators throughout the United States and many other countries.

Anyone may become a licensed Amateur Radio operator. There are over 725,000 licensed hams in the United States, as young as 5 and as old as 100.

“Hams can literally throw a wire in a tree for an antenna, connect it to a battery-powered transmitter and communicate halfway around the world,” Kutzko added. “Hams do this by using a layer of Earth’s atmosphere as a sort of mirror for radio waves. In today’s electronic do-it-yourself (DIY) environment, ham radio remains one of the best ways for people to learn about electronics, physics, meteorology, and numerous other scientific disciplines, and is a huge asset to any community during disasters if the standard communication infrastructure goes down.”

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