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Ham radio field day this weekend

By Staff | Jun 24, 2020

We tend to take all the gadgets we have to communicate with each other for granted. We are always one big storm away from losing that ability when a cellphone tower falls with the wind or all electricity goes out.

This weekend, the area’s amateur radio operators will hold their annual field day, which serves as a dry run in the event they are called upon to relay information to the public or emergency personnel.

The 24-hour nationwide event, to be held at the North Fort Myers Community Park, will officially run from 2 p.m. Saturday to 2 p.m. Sunday, under the local auspices of the Fort Myers Amateur Radio Club.

Field Day demonstrates ham radio’s ability to work reliably under any condition from almost any location and create an independent communications network with a minimum of equipment.

Joe Ryan, organizer of the event for the FMARC, said the main idea is for them to practice.

“We set up temporary antenna, use a generator or battery power and be ready in case,” Ryan said. “Many of our members are volunteers with Emergency Operations here. We do communications from the shelters.”

These operators will set up in the concession area near the football field to make contact with other operators throughout the country and the world.

The event is open to the public. This year minor changes are being implemented to comply with CDC guidelines because of COVID-19.

“We’re going to try to minimize the time of setup. That’s when a lot of people are together hoisting up the antenna and with more wire antennas,” Ryan said. “We have to do the spacing and the masks, so it will be different this year.”

Ryan said the goal is for them to reach every section of the United States, which they have only done once before. Typically, they reach 48 or 49 of the nation’s 50 states

For more than 100 years, amateur radio has provided a free public service to their communities during a disaster, all without needing a cellular phone or the Internet.

Since 1933, operators across North America have established temporary ham radio stations in public locations during Field Day to showcase their skill. More than 35,000 people from thousands of locations participated in Field Day last year.

Ham radio can function completely independent of the Internet or cellular phone infrastructure, can interface with tablets or smartphones, and can be set up almost anywhere in minutes. This concept has been effectively applied in many emergency situations and their aftermaths.

Locally, ham radio has served as the only form of communication following events such as hurricanes Irma, Charlie and Michael. There are more than 762,000 licensed operators in the country.

The North Fort Myers Community Park is at 2000 N. Recreation Way,

For more information, visit fmarc.net, arrl.org or contact Wells at pio@fmarc.net.