PARSONS – On the last weekend of June, local amateur radio operators – called “hams,” gathered at Camp Kidd in Parsons to participate in Field Day, which takes place each year on the last full weekend in June.
The weekend offers the public the chance to meet with and talk to members of the Mountain State Transmitters and learn about amateur radio. Amateur radio groups across the nation celebrate Field Day and the radio bands are full of hams contacting other hams across the United States, teaching about different modes of radio operations and showing their emergency capabilities.
Tucker County Commission President Lowell Moore visited with the group during this year’s Field Day. He said feels lots of people do not know the quality of the group or the reason for Field Day.
“In an emergency situation, amateur radio can be the only communication we have,” Moore said. “I have never been involved in amateur radio but I have always wanted to. Looking around here, I am happy to see so many people taking an interest in ham radio.”
During Field Day, Tom DiBacco demonstrated satellite amateur radio and Morris Kittle demonstrated using CW.
“The whole idea of Field Day is to practice for emergency communications in time of disaster,” Kittle said. “We contact other stations and exchange our call sign, how many transmitters are at the particular site, class and the ARRL section.”
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. For more than 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. More than 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.”
“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.”
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. And with clubs such as the Mountain State Transmitters it’s easy for anybody to get involved right here in Tucker County. The Mountain State Transmitters meet at 1:30 p.m. the first Sunday of each month at the Leading Creek Volunteer Fire Department.