Ham ra­dio op­er­a­tors set Centreville Field Day

Record Observer - - News -

CENTREVILLE — A group of am­a­teur ra­dio op­er­a­tors re­turns to the Centreville area on June 24-25 to test their emer­gency pre­pared­ness and op­er­at­ing skills as part of the Amer­i­can Ra­dio Re­lay League’s an­nual Field Day event.

Field Day is one of the most pop­u­lar an­nual ac­tiv­i­ties for am­a­teur ra­dio op­er­a­tors, also known as “hams.” The event reg­u­larly at­tracts in­di­vid­ual and group par­tic­i­pants op­er­at­ing from nearly ev­ery type of lo­ca­tion imag­in­able — from public parks to re­mote moun­tain­tops. Last year, more than 35,000 peo­ple par­tic­i­pated in Field Day op­er­a­tions across the U.S.

Us­ing the call­sign W3KDR, the Centreville group will at­tempt to con­tact as many other Field Day par­tic­i­pants as pos­si­ble in 24 hours us­ing voice, Morse Code, dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and special am­a­teur ra­dio satel­lites. All equip­ment will be pow­ered by gen­er­a­tors and bat­ter­ies to test their re­li­a­bil­ity un­der emer­gency con­di­tions.

Field Day also of­fers an ideal op­por­tu­nity for the public to learn more about the fas­ci­nat­ing world of am­a­teur ra­dio, which is en­joyed by nearly 744,000 gov­ern­ment-li­censed op­er­a­tors of all ages in the U.S., and more than 2.5 mil­lion more around the world. More than sim­ply a hobby for peo­ple who like to talk, am­a­teur ra­dio is widely rec­og­nized for its con­tri­bu­tions to­ward global un­der­stand­ing, ed­u­ca­tion, and emer­gency ser vice, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing dis­as­ters.

Am­a­teur ra­dio also of­fers a re­li­able means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion that cell phones, the In­ter­net, and other sys­tems can­not, which is why the hobby is rec­og­nized by the U.S. De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity as a vi­tal, vol­un­teer con­tri­bu­tion to pre­pared­ness.

Gov­ern­ment and emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel across Mar yland fre­quently look to the area’s am­a­teur ra­dio com­mu­nity for sup­port fol­low­ing ma­jor weather events and other emer­gen­cies. In ad­di­tion, area hams pro­vide com­mu­ni­ca­tions sup­port for ma­jor events such as the an­nual Marine Corps Marathon, and fa­cil­i­tate con­tacts be­tween school groups and the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion.

What’s more, many com­mu­ni­ca­tions and elec­tron­ics prod­ucts and sys­tems now con­sid­ered an in­te­gral part of daily life orig­i­nated in the “ham shacks” of ra­dio en­thu­si­asts around the world. Am­a­teur ra­dio also reg­u­larly con­nects school groups with as­tro­nauts aboard the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion, and keeps Armed Ser­vices per­son­nel around the world in touch with loved ones back home.

Al­though emer­gency pre­pared­ness and public aware­ness are the hall­marks of Field Day, the event also fosters a spirit of friendly com­pe­ti­tion among its par­tic­i­pants. The Centreville group has reg­u­larly fin­ished among the top en­trants both re­gion­ally and na­tion­wide in the cat­e­gory of sin­gle trans­mit­ter, emer­gency power since they be­gan op­er­at­ing Field Day from Queen Anne’s County in 1998.

Visi­tors are cor­dially in­vited to drop by the Centreville Field Day site dur­ing the 24-hour op­er­at­ing pe­riod, which be­gins at 2 p.m. on Satur­day, June 24. For di­rec­tions or more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Kerry King­ham at 703/242-9724, or by email at WA4BQM@arrl.net. More in­for­ma­tion about am­a­teur ra­dio is avail­able at www.arrl.org.

A Queen Anne’s Am­a­teur Ra­dio “ham” op­er­a­tor is shown in ac­tion dur­ing Field Day 2014.

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