Members of the Franklin Amateur Radio Club were among the estimated 35,000 “ham” radio operators around the world who took part in the annual American Radio Relay League’s Field Day on Saturday, June 25.
Begun in 1933, amateur radio operators throughout North America have practiced the rapid deployment of radio communications equipment in environments ranging from operations under tents, in remote areas, to operations inside emergency operations centers. The Franklin club operated from Tassee Shelter on the Greenway.
The local club members contacted other hams throughout the day although atmospheric conditions limited long distance contacts. The furthest contact made was with a station in Ontario.
This is the largest single emergency preparedness exercise in the United States for amateur radio. Emergency power as well as commercial power is utilized to power the assorted radio equipment.
Alternative power sources are encouraged since electricity and other public infrastructures are often among the first to fail during a natural disaster or severe weather.
Amateur radio operators come from all walks of life of all ages, sexes, income levels and nationalities. They say hello to the world in many languages and many ways. But whether they prefer Morse code on an old brass telegraph key, voice communication on a hand-held radio, or computerized messages transmitted via satellite, they all have an interest in what’s happening in the world, and they use radio to reach out.
Some Hams are attracted by the ability to communicate across the country, around the globe, or even with astronauts on space missions. Others may like to build and experiment with electronics. Computer hobbyists enjoy using amateur radio’s digital communications opportunities. Those with a competitive streak enjoy “DX contests,” where the object is to see how many hams in distant locations they can contact. Some like the convenience of a technology that gives them portable communication. Mostly Hams use it to open the door to new friendships over the air or through participation in one of more than 2000 Amateur Radio clubs throughout the country.
The Franklin Club maintains a repeater on Cowee Bald and other amateur radio groups maintain a repeater on Wine Springs Bald. Using small handheld radios, there are virtually no places in Macon, Swain and most of Cherokee counties where a Ham cannot contact one of these repeaters to talk with other Hams. Cell phones have limited range and there are places in Western North Carolina where cell service is not available. The beauty of amateur radio is that a Ham can reach one of these repeaters using a pocket sized two way radio, fixed station radio or a mobile radio.
For more information on amateur radio or the Franklin Amateur Radio Club go to http://franklin-arc.com/.