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Amateur Radio Field Day 2018 just around the corner

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

The air waves will be alive June 23-24 with call signs, check-ins and, if need be, emergency calls for help.

The Henry County Amateur Radio Club is getting ready for the annual ARRL Field Day, that special time each year when “hams” from around the world dial in as many contacts as they can.

Amateur Radio Field Days allow members of the public to learn about the science and skill behind ham radios. Henry County radio operators joined more than 35,000 people in Field Day worldwide in 2017.

The Henry County club will string up their antennas behind the Henry County Historical Society Museum, 606 S. 14th St., New Castle, and take part in the Field Day all weekend, June 23-24. 

“We hope to have another great Field Day event this year,” said Henry County Amateur Radio Club President and Activity Director Benjamin Burris (call sign KC9QEW). “The public is welcome to stop by. We will be more than happy to explain what we are doing and even get them on the air.”

The Henry County Amateur Radio Club (HCARC) was founded in 1979 and has been serving Henry County hams and the community in various forms ever since.

HCARC maintains the Henry County Skywarn website (henrycoskywarn.org), Facebook page (www.facebook.com/HenryCoSkywarn) and Twitter accounts (@HenryCoSkywarn).

“These are all updated with information regarding severe weather in Henry County... These pages have gained a lot of views over the last few months,” Burris said.

Burris explained that the HCARC also passes along any National Weather Service reports that meet the severe weather criteria.

Amateur radio works independent of the Internet or cell phone infrastructure. When a cell tower gets overloaded or power lines go down, amateur radio operators can still help people connect with emergency services.

Ham operators can also interface with tablets or smartphones and can be set up almost anywhere in minutes.

“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,” said David Isgur, communications manager for the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the national association for Amateur Radio. “Hams do this by using a layer of Earth’s atmosphere as a sort of mirror for radio waves.”

Isgur said that 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 or emergencies if the standard communication infrastructure goes down.

Besides taking part in the Amateur Radio Field Day, members of HCARC will provide communication June 23 for the New Castle Mini Marathon.

Burris said local hams will be set up along the road course and will send reports about the event up to a net controller, who will be in direct radio contact with police and emergency medical services working the event.

For more information about the 2018 Field Day or other local amateur radio activities, contact Ben Burris at kc9qew@gmail.com or visit www.facebook.com/w9ob.hcarc.