KENNEBUNK -- Members of the New England Radio Discussion Society will participate in the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise Saturday, June 23 at 2 p.m. through Sunday, June 24 at 2 p.m. on the south yard of The New School in Kennebunk. Since 1933, amateur radio operators across North America have established temporary amateur radio stations in public locations during Field Day to showcase the science and skill of Amateur Radio. ?The public is welcome.
Society members will demonstrate effective emergency procedures and technical proficiency in an outdoor setting resembling a quickly erected emergency operations site. Licensed club members will use voice, Morse code and digital data links to contact other stations while employing innovative techniques for power-generation in the field.
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, and to provide a free public service to their communities during a disaster - all without needing a cell phone or the Internet. Field Day demonstrates amateur radio’s ability to work reliably under adverse conditions from almost any location and create an independent communications network. Over 35,000 people from thousands of locations participated in Field Day in 2017.
“Field Day is a chance to test our radio communication skills,” explains club founder Alex Mendelsohn. “Over the years, hams have established communications during floods, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, and other disasters, whether local, regional, or national in scope. As Congress has noted, when other means of communications fail, ham radio gets through."
“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 David Isgur, communications manager for 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 functions completely independent of the Internet or cell phone infrastructure, 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,” Isgur 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, and numerous other scientific disciplines, and is a huge asset to any community during disasters or emergencies if the standard communication infrastructure goes down.”
Anyone may become a licensed Amateur Radio operator. There are more than 725,000 licensed amateurs in the United States, as young as 9 and as old as 100. And with clubs such as the New England Radio Discussion Society, it’s easy for anybody to get involved in southern Maine. For more information about Field Day, club meetings or amateur radio, contact Alex Mendelsohn: 207-967-8812 or visit www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio.