The airwaves will see a flurry of conversations take place the weekend of June 22-23 as locals participate in the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise.
Delaware Amateur Radio Association (DELARA), a local ham (nickname for amateur radio operators) group, will participate in the event from its base at the American Red Cross facility at 380 Hills-Miller Road in Delaware.
According to Stan Broadway, Ohio section emergency coordinator and a DELARA member, the objective of the annual event is for groups or individual ham operators to make as many contacts as possible with other amateur stations within a 24-hour period. He said the exercise helps station operators sharpen skills, prove their equipment under emergency conditions, and it pits operators against an estimated two to three thousand other amateur operators.
On a proud note, he mentioned that DELARA has connected with over 3,000 other hams in the last several years.
Broadway said DELARA, a group of about 50 amateurs, made an attempt to contact a satellite last year, but the connection never formed. He said it is better to find the problems during practice as opposed to when things are critical.
Broadway said the first job of hams is to act as storm spotters, while the second job involves assisting in augmenting emergency communications if they go down in an event and then helping in other areas, no matter what it might be, during a devastating event here in Delaware County.
During the recent Memorial Day storms, Broadway said DELARA was monitoring the storm activity in and around the Dayton area.
“We just missed one that Monday evening,” he said. “There were warnings for Union and Delaware, but fortunately, nothing came of it.”
According to a June 11 press release from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s office, 21 tornadoes have been confirmed as to having touched down in 10 counties on May 27.
The press release states, “The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Small Business Administration, and Ohio Emergency Management Agency conducted a preliminary damage assessment identifying 942 homes and buildings destroyed or significantly damaged.”
In a previous report from DELARA last year, the three hurricanes of 2017 — Harvey, Irma and Maria — that left nothing but widespread destruction in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, created a black veil over emergency communication. Approximately 130 licensed amateur radio operators in Puerto Rico gathered their equipment to provide weeks of critical emergency communication that saved countless lives during the disaster.
The Ironman 70.3 Ohio that is now held in Delaware every year only use and trust the race communications to the DELARA group.
In another part of the county during Field Day, two long-time high school friends who started out as hams together will establish a couple of stations just outside of Ostrander.
During the mid-1960s, Roy Hook and Craig Nicholson became licensed amateur radio operators while in high school. Going separate ways after high school, they continued to stay in touch via ham radio.
According to Hook, the two have planned for many years to reunite in one location for the Field Day event.
“Craig is on his way down here,” Hook said. “We’ll set up and run the whole weekend.”
Hook said that Field Day showcases the reliably of ham radio working under adverse conditions from almost any location to create an independent communications network. He said the classification the two will work under is for two people only with two transmitters that are not connected to any type of commercial power.
“In our class, we must work independently of commercial power,” he said.
The two old friends will begin their adventure at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 22, near Ostrander at 9451 Mills Road. The event will end 24 hours later on Sunday.
“Anyone that wants to visit is more than welcome,” Hook said.
“In today’s electronic do-it-yourself (DIY) environment, ham radio remains one of the best ways for people to learn about electronics, physics, meteorology, and numerous other scientific disciplines, and is a huge asset to any community during disasters or emergencies if the standard communication infrastructure goes down,” said David Isgur, communications manager for ARRL, from a press release about the Filed Day event.
Anyone may become a licensed amateur radio operator. There are more than 725,000 licensed hams in the United States, as young as 9 and as old as 100. For more information about Field Day or amateur radio, visit www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.