For over 100 years, Amateur Radio - sometimes called ham radio - has allowed people from all walks of life to experiment with electronics and communications techniques, as well as provide a free public service to their communities during a disaster, all without needing a cell phone or the Internet. Field Day demonstrates ham radio’s ability to work reliably under any conditions from almost any location and create an independent communications network. Radio Amateurs use and integrate into existing infrastructures when they are available, say email or messaging when there is none in a local area. The Puerto Rico hurricane recovery efforts used amateur radio to provide critical infrastructure just recently. Over 35,000 people from thousands of locations participated in Field Day in 2017. The local club provides local “storm spotting” data using Skywarn reporting to the National Weather bureau in White Lake.
“It’s easy for anyone to pick up a computer or smartphone, connect to the Internet and communicate, with no knowledge of how the devices function or connect to each other,” said Dave Isgur of the American Radio Relay League, the national association for Amateur Radio. “But if there’s an interruption of service or you’re out of range of a cell tower, you have no way to communicate. Ham radio can function completely independent of the Internet or cell phone infrastructure, it can interface with tablets or smartphones, and can be set up almost anywhere in minutes. That’s the beauty of Amateur Radio during a communications outage.”
“Hams can literally throw a wire in a tree for an antenna, connect it to a battery -powered transmitter and communicate halfway around the world,” Kutzko added. “Hams do this by using a layer of Earth’s atmosphere as a sort of mirror for radio waves. In today’s electronic do-it- yourself (DIY) environment, ham radio remains one of the best ways for people to learn about electronics, physics, meteorology, networking, and numerous other scientific disciplines, and is a huge asset to any community during disasters if the standard communication infrastructure goes down.”
Anyone may become a licensed Amateur Radio operator. There are over 725,000 licensed hams in the United States, as young as 5 and as old as 100. And with clubs such as the local SARA group, it’s easy for anybody to get involved right here. For more information about Field Day, contact Don Warner,  599-0729 or visit www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio. More local information can be found at: www.w8qqq.org/events.html