For more than 100 years, amateur radio — often referred to as 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.
“Cell phones, especially, are likely to go down in a big disaster — that’s been proven time and time again,” local resident Dave Theophilus told the Tribune in 2017. “They either go down because the equipment fails or because they’re overloaded. If you lose the power, the wireless internet goes down.”
That’s where amateur radio comes in.
“We can operate off of generators with simple antennas and we’re in business,” he said.
During the massive flooding in March of this year, members of the local Pioneer Amateur Radio Club (PARC) helped provide communication between various recovery sites in Fremont and the Emergency Operations Center.
This weekend, members of PARC will be participating in the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise on Saturday and Sunday at the Izaak Walton Fin and Feather Lodge in Fremont.
Since 1933, ham radio operators across North America have established temporary ham radio stations in public locations during Field Day to showcase the science and skill of Amateur Radio.
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The event is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday and from 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday. Club members will be available to answer questions.
Field Day demonstrates ham radio’s ability to work reliably under any conditions from almost any location and create an independent communications network.
According to Sean Kutzko of the American Radio Relay League, the Field Day event is a great way for those interested in ham radio to participate in the hobby that promotes a variety of scientific disciplines, and can be an important tool in the face of disaster and emergency situations.
“In today’s electronic do-it-yourself 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 if the standard communication infrastructure goes down,” he said in released information.
More than 35,000 people from thousands of locations participated in Field Day in 2018.