Island amateur radio operators (hams) are sharpening their skills for one of the most anticipated events on their annual calendar.
Ham Radio Field Day, organized by the Maritime Lighthouse Amateur Radio Group in conjunction with the Canadian Red Cross, will be held June 22-23 at Red Cross headquarters in Charlottetown.
This year’s site was chosen because of the excellent radio reception possible from the U.S. and Canada.
Local radio enthusiasts will join the thousands of others in Canada and the U.S. to set up temporary stations simulating emergency conditions. The goal is to make as many radio contacts as possible with other Field Day stations from coast to coast. Stations will be set up in parking lots, campgrounds, fields and other locations around North America.
In natural disasters, modern technology like mobile phones, email and other types of communication can fail. Amateur radio does not rely on cellular towers or fibre optic cables and can get through in times of crisis because signals are sent from station to station directly through the air using radio waves.
Part of the intent of the Field Day exercise is to raise public awareness of the value that ham radio continues to have for communities.
In Charlottetown, participants will set up their stations on Saturday, June 22. Then, at 3 p.m. they will begin a continuous 24-hour marathon of radio communications.
The hams will use several modes, including Morse code and voice. P.E.I. hams will also be looking for a contact with astronauts on board the International Space Station and will also try to make contacts using satellite relay.
The organizing committee is encouraging the public to stop by and see all of this in action and the Red Cross Headquarters at 29 Paramount Dr. in Charlottetown.
Some facts about ham radio operators:
- More than 35,000 amateur radio operators participated in last year’s event
- There are 250 amateur radio licences in P.E.I., more than 50,000 in Canada, 750,000 in the U.S. and more than 2.5 million worldwide
- The field day is always held on the fourth weekend in June in Canada and the U.S.
- Hams throughout North America set up temporary transmitting stations in public places
For more information, visit arrl.org/field-day