OAKHURST — The most popular amateur radio event in the United States and Canada is the American Radio Relay League’s (ARRL) Annual Field Day being held nationally this year in both countries during the fourth weekend in June.
Date & Time: From Saturday, June 24, at 11:00 a.m. until noon on Sunday, June 25.
This year, the local Mountain Amateur Radio Club will hold their Field Day event continuously from 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 24, until noon on Sunday, June 25, in the parking lot of the Oakhurst Masonic Lodge at 40216 Hwy 49 across the street from the California Highway Patrol Office in Oakhurst. Club members work in shifts throughout the 24-hour period.
The Field Day event and refreshments are free to the public who are encouraged to drop by and experience a “Get on the Air” opportunity that weekend.
Terry Burley, president of the local Mountain Amateur Radio Club, said “from its beginnings in the 1930’s as an event to test the field preparedness and emergency communications abilities of a growing amateur radio community, Field Day has evolved into the largest on-the-air operation during the year.”
Quoting 2022 Field Day results reported in QST, a magazine for ARRL members, event entries were submitted by almost 5,000 clubs, groups and individuals from across the U.S. and Canada last year. “These logs showed participation by nearly 30,000 individuals and more than 1.2 million contacts made during the brief 24-hour event,” Burley added.
Field Day is officially an “operating event” and not a contest. In recent years, however, Field Day events mostly emphasize contesting, points earned and standings among stations in each operating class. “Today, our purpose is to contact as many stations in the nation as possible to win points for the local club,” Burley continued.
During the Field Day event in Oakhurst, local ham club members will be practicing their radio skills using emergency back-up power, temporary antenna setups, base radios, mobile radios, and handhelds.
Bernice Kelley, activities coordinator for the Mountain Amateur Radio Club, said “each of these radios has its own abilities and challenges. We invite the public to join in the fun! And, we can help you to make your very first radio contact.”
According to the ARRL Field Day portal, the object of the event is to work as many stations as possible on 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meter HF (high frequency) bands, as well as all bands 50 MHz (megahertz) and above, and in doing so to learn to operate in abnormal situations in less than optimal conditions. A premium is placed on developing skills to meet the challenges of emergency preparedness as well as to acquaint the general public with the capabilities of amateur radio.
According to Burley, participating in a Field Day event “gives us a chance to practice, show our unique skill sets, invite the public to share our love for the sport and make as many contacts as possible in a narrow window of time (24 hours).” Burley said it would normally take weeks to make the number of contacts his group makes during the Field Day event.
The ARRL is the largest membership association of amateur radio enthusiasts in the United States. It represents the interests of amateur radio operators before federal regulatory bodies, provides technical advice and assistance to amateur radio enthusiasts, supports a number of educational programs and sponsors emergency communications service throughout the country.
The Mountain Amateur Radio Club was formed in 1981 and totals about 50 members today. Ham operators are not limited by age and you don’t have to be a ham to join the club. “The club will help new members learn what they need to obtain their FCC license which is also regularly administered by the club,” said Burley.
The club meets monthly at the Sierra Senior Center in Oakhurst, gathers socially every Thursday morning for coffee, etc., at a local restaurant and engages with members in a 2-meter networking session every morning at 7 a.m.
The club is thankful to Oakhurst Masonic Lodge Master John Signes and the Oakhurst Masons for the use of their facility for this year’s Field Day event.
For more information about the local ham club and its community services activities, call Burley at 408-310-9648.
Oakhurst Masonic Lodge
Oakhurst, CA 93644
What is a Ham?
By Bernice Kelley, Activities Coordinator, Mountain Amateur Radio Club.
Technically, a ham is a licensed amateur radio operator. This could be pretty much anyone – you, your neighbor, a best friend, or your son’s football coach. All you have to do is apply for a license with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), study and take the entry level test, get your hands on the right radio and the possibilities become endless!
So, what do we use ham radios for?
- We can visit people around the world
- Connect with old friends and make new ones
- Relay messages
- Contact someone somewhere who doesn’t have cellular or Internet services
- Use during a time of disaster
- Contact someone in a remote location
- Or, maybe, you’d like to talk with someone from a cultural area you’re interested in. Just reach out and connect with someone!
Hams can help with the logistics of communications, both emergency and messaging, during events such as a marathon or 100-mile bike riding event. They offer their services to Cal Fire during the fire season by patrolling rural areas for accidental fires caused by lit firecrackers or camp fires that weren’t quite out when they were left behind and still smoldering.
Best of all hams just like to have fun!
We join nets (networking groups), practice emergency services, discuss pertinent information like trying to discern the model of a car or tractor, check in on friends and neighbors or send out traffic and weather alerts. There is a networking group out there for pretty much anything a ham radio operator dreams of doing.
Want to become a ham radio operator? Check out this great video!