Communicating through ham radio: Field Day brings radio enthusiasts together

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It's all part of the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise organized by the American Radio Relay League, the national association for Amateur Radio.

"The commercial communications tend to fail during an acute disaster like that", Rocker said, "Ham radio will always work".

Tim Ramsey, another ham and club member, said he likes Morse because "it's crisp and there's never any static".

Reap said there are also contests around the world to make worldwide connections through ham radio. "It helps the community in time of need even though we have cell phones and all the modern technology". Operators must also give the number of radios at the station as well the power source for those radios. For Field day that information consists of the operators the state and section within that state.

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Ham radio operators say they will be busy through Saturday night and into Sunday afternoon communicating with other ham organizations throughout the country.

"The fastest way to turn a crisis into a total disaster is to lose communications", said Allen Pitts of the ARRL.

Licensed Ham Radio public relations officer Melanie Reap said one of the missions of the club is to provide communication during emergencies and promote interaction with the general public. There are now over 700,000 Amateur Radio licensees in the U.S., and more than 2.5 million around the world.

There was a tent that offered novices a "chance to go on the air" with assistance by a ham, who will help them connect with someone they don't know out in the ether, and perhaps get them interested in the hobby, which can be done with an investment of only several hundred dollars.

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