POINT PLEASANT — Anyone interested in learning about amateur radio operation in the tri-county area will have the opportunity this weekend, when the annual “Amateur Radio Field Day” is observed in both Mason and Gallia counties.
Members of the Mason County Amateur Radio Group (MCARG) will participate in the national field day with an event at Fort Randolph, inside Krodel Park in Point Pleasant. It will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, extend throughout the day and all night, until 2 p.m. on Sunday, according to member Matt Gregg.
The Mid-Ohio Valley Amateur Radio Club (MOVARC) will hold its field day event Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will take place at the Mound Hill Cemetery Shelter House, 412 Second Avenue in Gallipolis, according to M. Bruce Riffle of Leon, who is vice president of MOVARC.
Both events have free admission and will feature refreshments.
Experienced amateur (or “ham”) radio operators will be set up at both locations to explain what the world of amateur radio is about. Riffle said it is a good opportunity for individuals, but also for groups such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and 4-H clubs.
He emphasized you don’t have to be a licensed operator to enjoy the field day. Those attending can be “third party” operators, and get the chance to use the equipment and make radio contacts.
Gregg said the event at Fort Randolph will have multiple ways of communication set up for folks to see firsthand. He stated members are hoping they will be able to talk via satellite, as well.
“There are multiple amateur radio satellites in orbit,” Gregg said. “They allow amateur radio operators to communicate from one part of the world to another part of the world.”
He added if the International Space Station has a flyover that is good for the local location, they might try to make contact with it.
“We may not talk to anybody on board, but they have automated systems that we will be able to talk with,” Gregg stated.
Field day also demonstrates ham radio’s ability to work reliably under any conditions from almost any location, and create an independent communications network. It is one feature that will be emphasized this weekend.
“One of the big things that we are pushing here, locally, is the fact that we can provide communication when traditional means, such as cell phones or landline telephones, are out,” Gregg said. “That is one of the reasons why the National Weather Service relies heavily on the amateur radio weather spotters. We have ways of making communications work during those types of emergencies.”
Field day is the single most popular on-the-air event held annually in the U.S. and Canada. Last year, over 35,000 people from thousands of locations participated.
Anyone can become a licensed ham operator. There are over 725,000 licensed operators in the United States from the age of five years to 100 years.
For more information on the Mason County field day event, contact Gregg at 304-919-3068 or visit www.mcarg.info. Contact Riffle at 304-593-9989 for more information regarding the Gallia County event.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.