Area ham radio operators will be participating in a national amateur radio exercise June 26 – 27 in the big shelter house at Baker Park in New Castle. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

The event is the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) Field Day, an annual amateur radio activity organized since 1933 by ARRL, the national association for amateur radio in the United States.

Hams from across North America ordinarily participate in Field Day by establishing temporary ham radio stations in public locations to demonstrate their skill and service. Their use of radio signals, which reach beyond borders, bring people together while providing essential communication in the service of communities. Field Day highlights ham radio’s ability to work reliably under any conditions from almost any location and create an independent, wireless communications network.

Many hams have portable radio communication capability that includes alternative energy sources such as generators, solar panels, and batteries to power their equipment. This year’s event is also noteworthy given that a particularly active hurricane season is predicted.

“Hams have a long history of serving their communities when storms or other disasters damage critical communication infrastructure, including cell towers,” according to the ARRL “Ham radio functions completely independently of the Internet and phone systems and a station can be set up almost anywhere in minutes. Hams can quickly raise a wire antenna in a tree or on a mast, connect it to a radio and power source, and communicate effectively with others.”

Steve Benson, call sign KD9ILY, Vice President of the Henry Count Amateur Radio Club, said the exercise will start about noon Saturday and run until about 1 p.m. Sunday.

“We’re going to have two radios for operators,” Benson said. “And we’re going to have a GOTA (guest on the air) station. So, if a non-ham shows up and would like to try getting on the air, we’ll have somebody there to help them do that. They can come and participate, see what ham radio is about and actually talk on the radio.”

Any hams who want to participate, Benson said, can go to www.W9OB.org, the club web site, and sign up for a time slot.

“We will have a display with some handouts about ham radio,” Benson said, so people can find out how to get a license and get involved.

During Field Day 2020, more than 18,000 hams participated from thousands of locations across North America. According to ARRL, there are more than 750,000 amateur radio licensees in the US, and an estimated 3 million worldwide. Among the tenets of the Amateur Radio Service is developing and practicing skills in radio technology and radio communications, and even contributing to international goodwill.

Hams range in age from as young as 9 to older than 100. A self-study license guide is available from ARRL: The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual (www.arrl.org/shop/Ham-Radio-License -Manual).

The Henry County Amateur Radio Club meets at 6:30 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of each month at American Legion Post 137, 419 New York Ave., New Caste. Everyone, hams and those interested in getting involved, is welcome to attend.