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Amateur radio operators take to the field
STARS invites public to drop by this weekend
ham

Statesboro Amateur Radio Society, or STARS, members and other area ham radio operators will be participating in the 24-hour national Amateur Radio Field Day this weekend and invite visitors to join them and even take a turn at the mic.

Officially, the Field Day will be on the air from 2 p.m. local time Saturday to 2 p.m. Sunday, June 22-23. Beginning Saturday morning, STARS members and other licensed amateur operators will set up their radio equipment, emergency power sources and temporary antennas at the Bulloch County Horseman’s Association Arena on Mill Creek Road.

“Not only the Statesboro Amateur Radio Society is going to be there but the Southeastern Amateur Radio Association from Twin City and Swainsboro will also be participating with us this year,” said Mark Aulick, STARS’ vice president and Field Day activities chair.

So he expects at least a dozen licensed operators for the local event, he said.

Field Day is sponsored annually in June by the American Radio Relay League, or ARRL, the national association for amateur radio. Last year, more than 35,000 people in thousands of locations participated, according to ARRL press release information.

As Aulick, amateur radio call sign KF4MLT, explained, the radio hobbyists will be calling as many other ham stations across North America as possible in the 24-hour period. Field Day is not primarily a competition – there are no prizes – but is instead meant to showcase amateur radio and its role in emergency preparedness and current technology.

However, the ARRL reports information about the contacts made by local clubs as a sort of score card.

“It’s not technically a contest, but you score points for the number of contacts you make, the types of contacts you make, any publicity that you get,” Aulick said. “There’s a lot of other things you score points for, because primarily it is a showcase for amateur radio.”

 

Open to non-hams

Youth and adults who are not licensed ham operators can take a turn making radio contacts under the supervision of a licensee, and this is encouraged during Field Day.

“We will have a station set up where unlicensed people can actually operate and make contacts,” Aulick said.

After logging contacts through the night, the local group may wrap up actual field operations before 2 a.m. Sunday, he said.

 

Emergency readiness

Another purpose of the Field Day is to simulate and practice emergency operations. Amateur radio has been in existence more than 100 years. But its own technology has evolved so that ham radio still fulfills a disaster response role, especially when today’s ever-present communications devices – such as smartphones that rely on cell towers – fail, ARRL Communications Manager David Isgur noted in the press release Aulick provided.

"If there's an interruption of service, or you're out of range of a cell tower, you have no way to communicate,” Isgur said. “Ham radio functions completely independent of the internet or cellphone infrastructure, can interface with tablets or smartphones, and can be set up almost anywhere in minutes. That's the beauty of Amateur Radio during a communications outage."

For more information about Field Day or amateur radio, contact Mark Aulick or visit www.arrl.org.