Ham Radio Operators to Hold Public Demonstration
Thousands of ham radio operators will be showing off their emergency capabilities nationwide this weekend.
In the State College area, the Nittany Amateur Radio Club will be demonstrating amateur radio at the Pleasant Gap Firemen's carnival grounds.
The public is invited to come and see ham radio's capabilities on Saturday, June 28, and Sunday, June 29.
This annual event, called "Field Day," is the climax of the weeklong "Amateur Radio Week" sponsored by the ARRL, the national association for amateur radio. Using only emergency power supplies, ham operators will construct emergency stations in parks, shopping malls, schools and backyards around the country.
The group's slogan, "Ham radio works when other systems don't!" is more than just words to the hams, as they prove they can send messages in many forms without the use of phone systems, Internet or any other infrastructure that can be compromised in a crisis.
More than 30,000 amateur radio operators across the country participated in last year's event.
During public demos, people will have a chance to meet and talk with ham radio operators and learn what the amateur radio service is about. Operators will show the newest digital and satellite capabilities, voice communications and even historic Morse code.
"We hope that people will come and see for themselves, this is not your grandfather's radio anymore," says Allen Pitts of ARRL. "The communications networks that ham radio people can quickly create have saved many lives in the past months when other systems failed or were overloaded."
During the past year, the news has been full of reports of ham radio operators providing critical communications in emergencies, including the California wildfires, Oregon and Michigan storms, tornadoes and other events worldwide. In 2005, during Hurricane Katrina, amateur radio was often the only way people could communicate, and hundreds of volunteer "hams" traveled south to save lives and property.
When trouble is brewing, ham radio operators are often the first to provide critical information and communications.
There are 650,000 amateur radio licensees in the U.S., and more than 2.5 million around the world. Through the ARRL's ARES program, ham volunteers provide emergency communications for thousands of state and local emergency response agencies, all for free.