National ham radio field day set

Brad Hicks • Jun 21, 2012 at 12:01 PM

ERWIN — The Unicoi County Amateur Radio Association is inviting the public to take part in the American Radio Relay League’s annual Field Day event to get a little more insight what ham radio is and learn how to become a “ham.”

The national Field Day event, which is sponsored by the ARRL, will be held locally beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday and ending at noon Sunday at the Zane Whitson Welcome Center, located off Exit 46 of Interstate 26. Those who attend will learn about amateur radio’s capabilities and learn how to acquire an FCC radio license.

During the event, amateur radio operators, also known as “hams,” will construct emergency situations in parks, shopping malls, schools and backyards around the country. Through their demonstrations, the amateur radio operators will attempt to show that their slogan, “When all else fails, Ham Radio works,” is more than just words as they show that they can send messages in various forms without the use of phone systems, Internet or any other infrastructure that can be compromised in a crisis.

According to a release on the event, more than 35,000 amateur radio operators across the country participated in last year’s event.

According to the release, there are more than 190 licensed ham radio operators in Unicoi County, more than 650,000 licensees in the U.S., and more than 2.5 million worldwide.

“Through the ARRL’s Amateur Radio Emergency Services program, ham volunteers provide emergency communication for thousands of state and local emergency response agencies, all for free,” the release said.

Those who attend will have the chance to speak with amateur radio operators, and the operators will publicly demonstrate amateur radio’s emergency communications abilities, including displaying the latest digital capabilities, voice communications and Morse code.

“We hope that our neighbors will come and see for themselves that this is not your grandfather’s radio anymore,” the release said. “The communications that ham radio people can quickly create has helped save many lives when other systems failed or were overloaded. And besides that, it’s fun!”

For more information on amateur radio, visit www.emergency-radio.org. For more information on the Unicoi County Field Day event, email the Unicoi County Amateur Radio Association at radiounicoi@gmail.com.

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