by Alex Lloyd Gross
The Penn Wireless Association, a local ham radio club showed off their emergency preparedness skills this weekend, at Tyler State Park, in Bucks County Pa. From 2:00 PM Saturday afternoon until 2:00 PM Sunday afternoon, club members set up tents, antennas and radios. The objective was to make contacts with stations across North America, and beyond. This is what is known as Field Day. For 2021, it was the first year back after COVID kept most clubs from operating in 2020.
The club used generators, or emergency power to get electricity to their radios.. According to Howard Rubin, a coordinator for Field Day, “It’s a way we can talk with other radios stations across the globe and relay messages”. Some of the members operated in tents, while others simply sat in a pavilion the club rented ,and operated there. Then there was Steve Willens, the club’s Vice President. He showed up in a converted paratransit van, set up as a communication bus. It was there, that some members could operate their radio, if they chose to do so.
The object of Field Day is to make as many contacts as possible . There is a lot standing in the way of that. An incorrect antenna , maybe something is not screwed in correctly, or maybe cable is bad. The problem must be identified and fixed. At the Field Day, a computer router was not working properly, requiring people to enter their contacts later. It’s par for the course. In an emergency, members will have to fix the problems and deal with issues that come up.
Radio operators must be licensed by the FCC.. Then they can operate equipment. Getting a license is not hard and club members are happy to help. You do not need to know Morse Code, to get a license. During Field Day, operators used their voice, More Code or other digital modes to contact other stations. As the day wore on, members came and went. Some are in charge of the food, others set up and tear down, and others are station operators .. “Each job is equally important”, Rubin said.
If you are interested in learning more about Ham Radio, contact the Penn Wireless Association here