Ham Radio Field Day June 24, 25 at Wells Mills Park

Jun 19, 2017

It’s safe to imagine that at least once every cell phone owner has experienced panic when the device’s battery has dipped below a comfortable charge percentage or when out of range of a cell tower. There’s a remedy for that, and it doesn’t require a to-go battery charger or a car that automatically charges electronics whether you have the appropriate wires or not. Here’s a hint: The technology has been around for more than a century.

If you don’t know the answer, then you’re not one of the 725,000 licensed amateur radio operators in the country. That can be cured this weekend as the Old Barney Amateur Radio Club participates in the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise at Wells Mills County Park in Waretown at temporary ham radio stations. The two-day event, June 24 and June 25, is an opportunity for the public to learn more about the science, skills and service behind amateur, or ham, radio.

“It’s easy for anyone to pick up a computer, or a smartphone, connect to the internet and communicate,” said Sean Kutzo of the American Radio Relay League, the national organization for hams. “But if there’s an interruption of service or you’re out of range of a cell tower, you have no other way to communicate.”

Not true of ham radio operations, which function autonomously of the internet or cell phone networks but can still interface with smartphones or tablets and be set up anywhere within minutes, he said.

“That’s the beauty of amateur radio during a communications outage,” Kutzo said. Locally, the Old Barney Radio Club helped with the American Red Cross communications across Ocean County during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Field Day, which has been an annual event since 1933, is open to the general public and provides a first-hand experience of the electronics and communications capabilities as well as looking at how amateur radio functions during a crisis. For more information, contact Bob Schenk, president of the Old Barney Radio Club, at n2oo@comcast.net.  —G.G.S.

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