BBARC ‘Field Day’ starts Saturday
BBARC ‘Field Day’ starts Saturday
By Denton Ramsey / Staff Writer
On Saturday afternoon beginning at 1 p.m., “Field Day 2005” will officially begin for ham radio local amateur radio operators.
This weekend, local residents will have the opportunity to meet and talk with ham radio operators and get some first-hand knowledge of what “radio service” is all about.
The Big Bend Amateur Radio Club, also known as BBARC, will hold a demonstration of emergency communications abilities at the Double Diamond Ranch Pavilion, located eight miles south of Alpine along Hwy. 118, from 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 25, until 1 p.m. on Sunday.
BBARC will also have a station operating from their Emergency Operations Center, or EOC, which is located adjacent to the Alpine Police Department in the Old City Hall building.
The annual event, called “field day,” is the climax of “Amateur Radio Week” which is sponsored by the ARRL, the national association for amateur radio.
Ham radio operators have been providing critical communications in emergencies world-wide over the years, and when there is trouble they are often the first to provide critical information to the pubic.
Ham operators construct emergency stations in parks, malls and backyards across the country to test their skills under all situations using only generators, batteries or solar power.
The club’s slogan, “Ham radio works when other systems don’t,” is more than just simple words for hams as they prove they can send messages in many forms without help from phone lines, the internet, or any other infrastructure that can be compromised in a crisis situation.
Last year, more than 30,000 amateur radio operators across the country participated in the event.
“We hope that people will come and see for themselves this is not your grandfather’s radio anymore,” said Keith West, W5KRW, president of the BBARC. “It may be called ‘amateur radio’ because we are unpaid, but like ‘amateur volunteer firefighters’ that does not mean we’re backwards.”
Demonstration of AM, FM, sideband, digital, code and satellite communications will be used at many locations by the ham radio operators.
Several clubs will also be experimenting with TV signals and ultra high frequency equipment.
Many electrical engineers have gone on to develop the marvels of today’s communications due to the above-mentioned type of practical experience as an amateur radio operator.
Twenty-one area hams participated in last year’s event as they made almost 2,400 contacts with other stations during the 24 hours of the event.
Currently, there are approximately 670,000 amateur radio operators in the United States and more than 2.5 million around the world.
Through the ARRL, hams provide emergency communications for the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizens’ Corps, Red Cross, Salvation Army, FEMA as well as many state and local agencies.
The public is invited to attend this weekend’s event to meet and talk with the hams.
“We expect to have about 21 or more hams again this year,” Bob Ward, WA5ROE, Big Bend ARC member said. “One of the big changes this year from last year is that last year we were in the category of 2A, which meant we were running on two emergency power systems. This year we will be running off three emergency power systems. Contact wise, we expect to have just as many as last year.”
For more information on amateur radio, contact a Big Bend area ham or visit the organization’s website at www.arrl.org/newham.