A Radio Field Day

Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials monitored dozens of radio amateurs along the US east coast on May 23 in a mock response to a simulated disaster scenario. (Courtesy photo)

MUSCLE SHOALS – Members of the Muscle Shoals Amateur Radio Club (MSARC) will be participating in the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise, June 22-23 at Gattman Park in Muscle Shoals.

Ham radio operators across North America have established temporary ham radio stations in public locations during Field Day to showcase the science and skill of Amateur Radio since 1933. This event is open to the public and everyone is encouraged to attend.

Amateur Radio—also called ham radio—has allowed people from all walks of life to experiment with electronics and communications techniques for over 100 years. It has also allowed them to offer a free public service to their communities during a disaster, all without needing a cell phone or the Internet. Field Day demonstrates amateur radio’s ability to work reliably under any conditions from almost any location and create an independent communications network. More than 35,000 people from thousands of locations participated last year in Field Day 2018 activities.

Ham radio functions completely independent of the Internet or cell phone infrastructure can interface with tablets or smartphones. They also 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 of 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.

About a dozen stations along the east coast participated in a mock response to a simulated disaster scenario in late May - a major hurricane with mass casualties.

During the event, radio amateurs at portable stations from New England to the Carolinas successfully delivered message traffic to W1AW, which coordinated and delivered the information to officials attending a joint Red Cross-FEMA meeting in Baltimore.

Anyone may become a licensed Amateur Radio operator. There are over 725,000 licensed hams in the US, as young as 5 and as old as 100. With clubs such as Muscle Shoals Amateur Radio Club it’s easy for anybody to get involved.

For more information about Field Day, contact Tim Holt at info@msarc.org or visit www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio.