Submitted by San Juan County Amateur Radio Society
Members of the San Juan County Amateur Radio Society will participate in the National Amateur Radio Field Day exercise from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, June 23 at the Lopez Farmers Market. Since 1933, ham radio operators across North America have established temporary ham radio stations in public locations during field day to showcase the science, skill and service of amateur radio. There are activities for kids and the opportunity to send an email or make a contact using the radio.
For over 100 years, amateur radio – often 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 2017.
“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.”
For instance, amateur radio volunteers were activated when the CenturyLink fiber cable failed on the islands.
“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 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 San Juan County Amateur Radio Society, it’s easy for anybody to get involved in the San Juans.
For more information about field day, visit www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio.