ARRL East Bay Section

PRESS RELEASE: June 28-29 – East Bay Amateur Radio Enthusiasts Demonstrate Their Emergency Communications and Technology Prowess This Weekend

Posted by k6jeb on June 26th, 2008

On-air demonstrations, satellite communications and emergency preparedness activities are on tap for East Bay Amateur Radio operators (or “hams”) as they wrap up their celebration of Amateur Radio Week with the annual Field Day exercise, June 28th-29th, 2008.

2008ridewave1.gifDuring Amateur Radio Week, radio enthusiasts put on demonstrations, give talks to community groups and take part in other activities to raise awareness about Amateur Radio. The week culminates with the annual preparedness exercise called “Field Day,” June 28 and 29. Field Day is sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the national association for Amateur Radio.

Beginning on Friday, June 27th, radio operators set up in local parks, at shopping malls, or even in their own backyards, and get on the air using generators or battery power. Field Day was designed to test operators’ abilities to set up and operate portable stations under emergency conditions such as the loss of electricity, as well as being mobilsed for the present state-wide wildfires all over Northern California. “We want the community to know that in the event of an emergency, we will be ready to assist our local communities,” says Jim Latham, ARRL Section Manager for the East Bay. “Cell phones haven’t replaced ham radio, and we hope we can engage the public to demonstrate we can still provide an important communications service that others can’t.  Natural Disasters such as Katrina and Loma Prieta are reminders that we must always be prepared. At this very minute, northern Californians need only take another breath to be reminded of the hundreds of wildfires burning.  Amateur radio can be a lifeline when other means of communication are simply not possible.”

‘Hams’ in the East Bay regularly provide communications for events like The Grizzly Peak Century bike ride, or area Boy Scout hikes.  These events pass through areas where cell phone service is unavailable.  Having the extra coverage via ham radio has helped on numerous occasions with getting stranded or injured hikers and riders the assistance they need in a timely fashion.  Search and rescue teams are regularly trained by the sheriff’s auxillary.

Field Day is a serious test of skill, but it is also a contest for fun and the largest “on-air” operating event each year. During the weekend, radio operators try to contact as many other Field Day stations as possible. Last year, there were a record 2,331 Field Day entries submitted — 4% more than the previous record of 2,241 in 2004.

People of all ages and abilities are encouraged to get involved.  There are many aspects of the hobby to explore ranging from using shortwave frequencies to communicating with people around the planet, setting up wireless data networks, or even bouncing signals off the moon.

Today there are more than 670,000 Amateur Radio operators in the United States and more than 2.5 million worldwide. To find out more about Amateur Radio or how you can get started, contact Jim Latham at (925) 447-6136, or via email: af6aq@arrl.org. Information is also available from the American Radio Relay League, 225 Main Street, Newington, CT 06111 or by calling 1-800-32-NEW HAM. The URL for the ARRL’s home page on the World Wide Web is www.arrl.org.

Check out the Field Day Station Locator by entering an address or zip code to find a Field Day operation near you.

ATTENTION SCOUTS — Boy Scouts who visit will be able to talk on the radios and thus meet the following requirements for both Emergency Preparedness and Radio Merit Badges. No advance registration is required. There is no cost to participate. Visitors are urged to ‘be prepared’ and bring whatever they will need including food and water.

Emergency Preparedness Merit Badge

[ ] 7. Take part in an emergency service project, either a real one or a practice drill, with a Scouting unit or a community agency.

Radio Merit Badge

[ ] 7a (2) Carry on a 10-minute real or simulated ham radio contact using voice or Morse code; use proper call signs, Q signals, and abbreviations. … Properly log the real or simulated ham radio contact and record the signal report.

[ ] 8 Visit a radio installation approved in advance by your counselor (ham radio station, broadcast station, or public service communications center, for example). Discuss what types of equipment you saw in use, how it was used, what types of licenses required to operate and maintain the equipment, and the purpose of the station.