Nationwide ham radio event to take place at OMSP

Published 2:53 pm Wednesday, June 23, 2021

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

PELHAM – The Shelby County Amateur Radio Club is participating in a nationwide amateur radio exercise called ARRL Field Day on June 26-27 at Oak Mountain State Park.

The exercise is designed as a way to establish temporary ham radio stations across the country to demonstrate the importance of their skill and service in bringing people together through the use of communication.

Operators of ham radios use call signs when connecting to others. Club member Darricke Rayl operates under the sign KK4DSR, and Randy Walton uses KZ4A.

One of the most notable examples of the ham radios usefulness, is its effectiveness during storms like hurricanes.

“Hams have a long history of serving our communities when disasters damage critical communication infrastructure, including cell towers and internet,” Rayl said. “Ham radio functions independently from the internet or cell phone systems, and a station can be set almost anywhere in minutes. Hams can quickly raise a wire antenna, connect it to a radio and communicate effectively with others.”

This is an event that can draw up to as many as 18,000 ham radio operators, like in the previous year’s exercise.

Rayl said that one of the biggest advantages of demonstrating this power comes from simulating disasters where traditional communication methods are down.

“It can be good practice for us in preparation for an emergency that we hope would never happen,” Rayl said. “That’s the point though, you don’t want to be caught blind.”

The organization plans to have a GOTA (Get on the Air) demonstration that will be an opportunity for ham operators who are not active, people who recently got their license or people who have never used a ham radio to get on the air and make a contact.

Rayl said that there would also be participation from hams in Shelby County and surrounding areas operating in their homes or backyards.

The event is free to attend with park admission. More information is available on the Shelby County Amateur Radio Club Facebook page.