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Ham radio operators participate in field day
By JEFFREY SAULTON email@example.com
POSTED: June 27, 2010
WALKER - Making contact with other amateur operators, or ham radio operators, near and far was the goal of a 24-hour field day sponsored by Wood County Emergency Communications
Ken Harris, director of Wood County Emergency Communications, said the American Radio Relay League's Field Day began at 2 p.m. Saturday and ends at 2 p.m. today at the Hendershot Farm off Laurel Creek Road.
He said the purpose of the field day is for local operators to make contact with as many other ham radio operators as possible from across the U.S. and Canada.
"We are operating under emergency conditions," he said. "This is an annual event to test our equipment and to work out any bugs in the system."
Harris said the groups are participating in the field day for a listing in the American Radio Relay League magazine. Last year Wood County Emergency Communications finished in the middle of similar groups using five transmitters with 568 contacts with other operators from the country and around the world.
"A group in New Hampshire had 6,357 contacts and on the other end was a group in Idaho with 181," he said. "While this field day is only for the U.S. and Canada we are allowed to count contacts with operators from around the world."
Harris said the local group has made contacts in every state except Alaska and Hawaii.
"Alaska may be bigger than Texas but they have fewer operators than West Virginia," he said. "Because of that they are hard to reach. One year we were able to reach the International Space Station since it was right over us."
Harris said the space station was over the area Friday night as they were setting up for the field day, but they were not ready and missed the opportunity to contact them.
Amateur radio has a following among the teens in the area. He said at the field day there were several participating and one, Jason Stahl, was taking the test for his technician license.
"We tell them on amateur radio we can talk with people all over the world and some say they can do that on the Internet," he said. "We have to compete with that but it is important to keep this alternative up."
Harris said after the earthquake in Haiti the first contact with the outside world were made through amateur radio.
"They were the ones getting the information out until the big boys got there with their satellite dishes," he said.
Harris said while Wood County Emergency Communications were not involved in a relay from Haiti, there were members monitoring in case they were needed.
"In something like that you keep your mouth shut and ears open," he said. "It was the same way with Hurricane Katrina, radio was the only communication until the big boys got there."
Harris said he was continuing his experiment from last year with solar panels to run his equipment with additional panels and positioning them differently. Other operators were powered by generators but they get points in the field day for incorporating alternative energy sources.
"Last year I had them on a table but this year I put them on the ground and they will be exposed to the sun all day charging the batteries for use over night ," he said. "Next year we hope to have a wind turbine for more points for using alternative energy sources."
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