Radio operators work Field Day

Alex Lloyd Gross-Photo- Delaware Valley Mark Hinkle, from Penn Wireless checks on generators as hams work from the pavilion in the background

By Alex Lloyd Gross

Ham Radio enthusiasts across North America look forward to the last full weekend in June every year. It’s a ritual called Field Day. Instead of playing with balls and running track,  these people play with radios.  According to the American Radio Relay League, the objective is to set up radios using emergency power and make contacts across the globe.  While operating under emergency power is not a requirement, it is recommended for Field Day. Radio clubs , and individuals will set up shop and do their thing. Contacting other hams across town or across the country.

Locally, one such club is Penn Wireless Organization. Located in Bucks County, Pa., this club set up shop at Tyler State Park, in Newtown Pa. It was the perfect place to be seen and get curious bystanders asking questions about the massive antennas that were set up. As members operated from tents or a pavilion, getting contacts was no easy feat. They must be able to hear the incoming call clearly, and hope that the other person hears them with the same clarity.

Ham radio is also called “Amateur Radio”, but there is nothing amateur about it.   The people that set up Field Day sites across North America must know  what they are doing. They are “Amateurs”, only in the fact that they are not paid for what they do. While technical know how is a definite plus,  It is not required . To talk on the radio, one must have a valid FCC license which requires a small basic understanding of radios and electronics to start out. If you pass that test, you are granted a Technician license.  More knowledge is required to advance to a higher class.

Field Day runs during a 24 hour period, Then members must take down their equipment. Some clubs have teams that operate only and other teams that set up and take down. Still others are assigned galley or other duties.