June 24, 2020 524 PM
BIG BEND — Ham radio operators from the Big Bend Amateur Radio Club will be participating in a national amateur radio exercise from Saturday to Sunday, June 27 to 28, with the American Relay Radio League. The event is ARRL Field Day, an annual amateur radio activity organized since 1933 by ARRL, the national association for amateur radio in the United States.
Hams from across North America ordinarily participate in Field Day by establishing temporary ham radio stations in public locations to demonstrate their skill and service. Their use of radio signals, which reach beyond borders, brings people together while providing essential communication in the service communities. Field Day highlights ham radio’s ability to work reliably under any conditions from almost any location and create an independent, wireless communications network.
Due to the pandemic, this year’s event will be markedly different from years past. Continuing public health restrictions and social-distancing practices will limit group gatherings for Field Day. Instead, hams from West Texas will use radio stations set up in their homes or taken to their backyards and other locations to operate individually. Many hams have portable radio communication capability that includes alternative energy sources such as generators, solar panels and batteries to power their equipment.
This year’s event is also noteworthy given the arrival of a rather active early hurricane season. “Hams have a long history of serving our communities when storms or other disasters damage critical communication infrastructure, including cell towers,” said Bob Ward, whose handle is WA5ROE. “Ham radio functions completely independently of the internet and phone systems, and a station can be set up almost anywhere in minutes. Hams can quickly raise a wire antenna in a tree or on a mast, connect it to a radio and power source, and communicate effectively with others,” Ward added.
During Field Day 2019, more than 36,000 hams participated from thousands of locations across North America. According to ARRL, there are more than 750,000 amateur radio licensees in the U.S. and an estimated 3 million worldwide. “Throughout COVID-19, hams around the world have continued to be on the air practicing their skills, in part as a way to help overcome social isolation and online fatigue,” said ARRL spokesperson Bob Inderbitzen, handle NQ1R.
Hams range in age from as young as 9 to older than 100.
Visit www.arrl.org for more information about ARRL Field Day.