Ham radio enthusiasts have 24 hours over Saturday and Sunday to make as many connections as possible, using no traditional power source. It’s an event that challenges the skills of the amateur operators and showcases the importance of ham radios during natural disasters.
“It’s a contest, but it’s also a test of our capabilities, of what we can do,” said Grover Keith, coordinator for the event.
Local operators will gather outside the Northwest Georgia Public Health facility, 1309 Redmond Road, just before 2 p.m. Saturday. The competition lasts to 2 p.m. Sunday. Visitors are welcome.
The competitors, about seven to 10 ham radio operators, will use that time to reach out to as many other amateur radio users across North America, Keith said.
Operators will log the connection made, its location and the person’s call sign. Connections often take less than a minute before operators have moved on to their next attempt.
Users will send their logbooks to the American Radio Relay League, which will publish the results based on a point system, Keith said.
“We hope to contact hundreds of stations across the United States,” he added.
Ham radio users need only a short wave radio, a transceiver, an antenna and a power source. Field day participants will use alternative power sources such as a generator or solar power. Keith said ham radio operators typically have no traditional power source during a natural disaster.
Operators also need a license to use a ham radio. However, a “GOTA” (get on the air) station will be available to field day visitors who have no license.
Scotty Hancock, director of the Floyd County Emergency Management Agency, said his department makes use of local ham radio users. The Emergency Operations Center has some $2,000 worth of amateur radio equipment in it.
Local ham operators get called to the EOC during bad storms. They contact other ham users in Alabama, some of who are storm spotters.
“You can get on-the-ground reports,” Hancock said. “They have a great network.”