A couple years ago I decided to get an amateur radio license. So, I bought a couple study guides, learned all about radios and their components, antennas, bands, and all that good stuff, and passed the test to get a Technician's license without a problem. Then I bought a radio, and it has patiently sat in my desk for two years waiting for me to program it.
To be honest, there are a lot of other things I'm much more passionate about, and I'm *very* rusty on everything I learned about radios. But...my name is in the FCC database with my call sign KE0BCA, so my interest in amateur radio is public record till at least 2024.
At the farmer's market this June, I ran into Stan Siems, a local gentleman with whom I had talked about ham radio before. He mentioned Ackley's first Amateur Radio Field Day was coming up, and suggested I stop by. So...I did.
The ham radios were operated out of a shed at Prairie Bridges Park. Cranes held up antennas. An American Red Cross emergency vehicle attended. Ham radio operators work with other emergency services during times of crises to bring communications to devastated areas without telephones and electricity.
Field day is held by the ARRL across the nation every year for hams to practice their emergency skills. Field day is a contest of sorts, where each operating location competes for points. The Ackley group collected points by using solar energy, having an emergency vehicle in attendance, having an elected official stop by, and making voice and Morse Code (DX) contacts.
Above left you can see the DX station. Stan Siems is above right. His interest in ham radio began when he was only 12 years old, working for a man who repaired radios and televisions.
Field Day started at noon on Saturday and lasted till noon on Sunday. Since most of the operators are local, they just went home when they were tired. The operator who came from furthest away had driven an hour and planned to spend the night in her car. Someone else was staying in an RV on the campground.
Above you can see some of the operators hard at work at the voice contact station. You can also see the solar panels, used along with a generator, to supply power. The map shows the bands that were open. When I visited, contacts had been made around the United States. The operators were hoping to make some contacts with Europe, since bands were open across the Atlantic.
If you're interested in learning more about amateur radio, visit the ARRL website. You can also read about how ham radio operators helped with disaster relief during Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina, and worked as storm-spotters to warn of the EF-5 tornado that hit Parkersburg, Iowa in 2008.
It was neat to see everyone at work. Ham radio enthusiasts in the area meet on a regular basis on the air and, I believe, as a club. I better get my radio programmed.
Do you have an amateur radio license, or have you met anyone with one?
Have you ever tried to learn Morse Code?