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Find out what the buzz is all about Saturday at the south end of San Juan Island

Hot dogs, hamburgers and ham-radios -- oh my!

On Saturday, San Juan County's Amateur Radio Society will host a Field Day Barbecue and demonstration at the historic U. S. Navy Radio Compass Station, better known as the Cattle Point Interpretive Area, on Cattle Point Road.

The event gets underway at 10 a.m. and is part of an annual exercise by the American Radio Relay League to test the ability of amateur radio operators to operate outdoors with portable equipment and to make contact with their counterparts all over the United States.

All licensed hams, all those interested in radio, and anyone else, for that matter, are welcome to attend. Hot dogs and hamburgers will be provided, but traditional potluck customs will prevail for everything else. So you're encouraged to bring your own plates, utensils, chairs and a dish to share.

Amateur and professional radiomen, and women, have played an important role in the San Juans for nearly 100 years. In the late 1920's, for example, radio operators at the Cattle Point compass station, in conjunction with other stations in the region, could pinpoint the location of a ship in the Strait of Juan Fuca 24 hours a day, even in the thickest fog, by monitoring signals relayed by Morse Code at that time.

The efforts of those radio operators in helping to provide safe navigation will be honored at Saturday's event.

Equipment will be set up beginning at 10 a.m., and local "hams" will be on-air by 11 a.m., and will continue to receive and send signals until 2 p.m. You may be surprised at just how far the local hams can reach.

(SJC Amateur Radio Society, which has an official presence in providing emergency communications for the county, meets on the second Friday of each month at the Friday Harbor Fire Station headquarters). For more info contact Nancy Lindenberg, KD7IRD, at 378-6855.

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