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Local Amateur Radio operators to take part in national Field Day this weekend
Two local teams of two persons each have one ham radio operator call other stations while the other keeps the contact log in this photo from the 2019 Amateur Radio Field Day. The individuals are, from left background to right front:  John Smoyer III, call
Two local teams of two persons each have one ham radio operator call other stations while the other keeps the contact log in this photo from the 2019 Amateur Radio Field Day. The individuals are, from left background to right front: John Smoyer III, call sign KJ4YEK; Bob Wells, KI4YRY; Betty Oliver, KD4QIC; and Eddie Oliver, KD4BWW.

Amateur Radio operators from the Statesboro Amateur Radio Society, or STARS, and the Southeast Amateur Radio Association, or SARA, will set up their gear Saturday morning in order to participate in the 24-hour national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise, which concludes Sunday afternoon.

The staging area will be the grounds of the Bulloch County Horseman’s Association Arena on Mill Creek Road.  STARS and SARA members invite the public to visit as they demonstrate how Amateur Radio can provide emergency communications in disasters and also seek to interest other people in the hobby.

Saturday morning, the ham radio operators will erect a portable antenna tower, string some basic wire antennas such as might be used for emergency communications support, and start up a portable generator to supply on-site power to their radios.

“It is, after all, to practice emergency communications, so we’ll be practicing with emergency power,” said Statesboro Amateur Radio Society President Mark Aulick, radio call sign KF4MLT.

Then, in the 24-hour period from 2 p.m. Saturday, June 26, to 2 p.m. Sunday, June 27, ham radio enthusiasts will make two-way contact with as many other stations across the United States and Canada as possible, logging each successful call. Probably eight to 15 licensed local ham operators will take part, operating two stations but also providing a third as a “Get on the Air” station reserved for use mostly by interested but unlicensed visitors.

Licensed operators can assist these visitors to get on the air and contact stations across America and potentially around the word.

“We love to have people come out there. …,” Aulick said. “Anybody is welcome.”

The local organizations have specifically invited Bulloch County Sheriff Noel Brown, at least one Statesboro City Council member and youth from a local Explorer troop, Aulick noted.

 

88-year tradition

Amateur Radio has now been around for more than 100 years, advancing with the technology to let people from all walks of life learn about and experiment with electronics and communications. Ham operators also provide a free public service with communications capabilities in disasters and emergencies. The national Field Day tradition itself is 88 years old, dating from the first such exercise in 1933.

The American Radio Relay League, or ARRL, the largest association of ham radio operators in the nation, continues to coordinate the Field Day.

In a press release, ARRL Communications Manager David Isgur contrasted Amateur Radio with today’s everyday use of smartphones and computers for communication, which offer ease of use for people with little or no knowledge of how they work.

“But if there’s an interruption of service or you’re out of range of a cell tower, you have no way to communicate,” he said. “Ham  radio functions completely independent  of the internet or cell phone 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.”

Amateur Radio now offers a number of digital modes of operation, such as EchoLink, which operates over the internet, Aulick noted. But for Field Day, operations here will be mainly by voice transmission over traditional high frequency, or HF, bands, also known as shortwave.

The ARRL reports that there are more than 725,000 licensed hams in the United States, ranging from 8 to 100 years old. More than 35,000 people participated in Field Day 2020 activities from thousands of locations, according to the ARRL.

A Field Day event was held here last year but with participation limited because of the pandemic.

During last week’s City Council meeting, Mayor Jonathan McCollar issued a proclamation naming June 21-27 as Amateur Radio Week in Statesboro and recognizing the field day event. For more information about Field Day or Amateur Radio, contact Aulick at kf4mlt@arrl.net or visit www.arrl.org.

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