Saturday, June 28, 2008

Field Day

The annual amateur radio field day started at 13:00CDT this afternoon. It will run for 24 hours. During that time, many amateurs will make radio contacts with other amateurs world wide if conditions allow, in a simulation of an emergency. The idea is to see how well individuals and radio clubs can work without electrical power from the main grid, instead using batteries or portable generators, or even solar power. The antennas used are also set up as temporary devices. If there was an emergency in a local area amateurs can set up communications to areas unaffected and pass messages out and receive message back in assisting rescue efforts, law enforcement needs, first aid, and many other agencies providing support to citizens affected by the disaster.

Evidence of how effective amateurs are can be found in reports that came out of Katrina, the many on-going fires in California, floods in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, and many, many other instances from the recent past and present. Amateurs have always been ready to assist their local communities in those desperate times. And now we are so much more dependent on computer operated systems of communications. From telephone companies and cell phones to law enforcement and local and state governments, all nearly grind to a halt when those systems fail. Amateurs with their radios and independent power can set up nearly anywhere and get vital info flowing to those needed agencies. And on top of all that, amateurs do it all for free.

So, I'm setting at home right now listening to the traffic on several frequencies. I have a couple of amateur radios since I'm a "Ham." My call sign is KD5MSW. Later today, I'll go out to one of the sites where a one of then clubs has set up and lend a hand at making contacts. I may wind up talking to someone in the next town, or across the state. If conditions are good, I may contact someone in Canada or Mexico, possibly somewhere in England or Europe.

When I go, I'll be sure to take plenty of water and bug spray. I'll stay late and try to stay awake while folks talk across the world all night. Time to grab a bit to eat and get ready. C U on the airwaves.

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