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Ham Radio Field Day

(L-R) Chad Richardson, William Merritt, and Randy Rambler making contact with other operators in the US. Photo by PJ Martin

By Allyson Dix

Jobe Publishing, Inc.


The Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) hosted its annual ham radio communications Field Day on June 24th and 25th, which is the single most popular on-the-air event held each year.

The Amateur Radio community comes together around the world on the last weekend each June and everyone is invited to attend and participate in the annual Field Day event.

The Mammoth Cave Amateur Radio Club set up at the American Legion Park at the picnic shelter behind the Glasgow City Pool. Operations began around noon on Saturday for the public.

Field Day is ham radio’s open house and more than 40,000 hams set up temporary transmitting stations to demonstrate the science, skill, and service that ham radio brings to our communities and nation.

Ham radio enthusiasts make attempts to see how many people they can reach in a 24-hour period so the local club is on site all through the night until Sunday morning.

“We invite the public to come by for opportunities if they would like to get on the radio and make contact with another ham operator somewhere in the world,” said ARRL’s Kentucky Section Manager Charlie O’Neal.

“The old adage is when all else fails, amateur radio still works,” O’Neal said.

Amateur Radio is the ultimate fail safe for communications infrastructure. “Our radio systems are simplistic in that they don’t require internet connection to work, they don’t have to have microwave links to work,” O’Neal said, “We just talk radio-to-radio, wire-to-wire.”

In times of disaster, Amateur Radio can hold up and even be utilized to send e-mails thousands of miles away. Additionally, many in the ARRL are very proficient with Morse code (a communications method using a series of dashes, dots, and spaces) and it is a very utilized part of Amateur Radio technology. “You can communicate with Morse code with very little power and a horrible antenna where you wouldn’t be able to communicate by voice,” O’Neal shared.

O’Neal said his interest in radio communications began after his father installed CB radios in their farm trucks when he was 8 years old so they could communicate when his parents were gone to town or taking loads of corn into the mill. Since then, O’Neal’s interest has grown and he’s actively involved with utilizing and testing the newest technologies with ham radios on a regular basis.

For the younger generations today, O’Neal said there are many opportunities for ham radio with digital platforms.

“Kids who are technologically connected and more acclimated to smart phones and new technology have opportunities to engage using digital technology,” O’Neal said. For example, FT8 is a digital platform transmitted on the ham radio frequencies to carry out communications with other individuals using computers, keyboards, and the radios. O’Neal said he’s made contact with 63 countries around the world with FT8.

The ARRL is a national association for Amateur Radio in the United States that represents over 170,000 FCC-licensed Amateurs. The ARRL is the primary source of information about what is going on in ham radio and provides books, news, support, and information for individuals and clubs, educational classes, special events, and other benefits for its members.

The Amateur Radio frequencies are the last remaining place in the usable radio spectrum where individuals can develop and experiment with wireless communications. Ham radio users can not only make and modify their equipment, but also invent new ways to do things.

Despite the development of more complex, modern communications systems, ham radio has been called into action time and time again to provide communications in crises and Amateur Radio users are well known for communications support in times of real disaster or post-disaster situations.

ARRL’s Field Day has been an annual event since 1933 and still remains the most popular event in ham radio.

The handset for using Morse Code for contact. Photo by PJ Martin

Mobile solar panels store up energy that will supply the operators all night and have power left. Photo by PJ Martin




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