Field Day, held on the last weekend in June each year, is the ARRL’s annual test of emergency preparedness for radio amateurs.  From Saturday morning till Sunday morning, operators set up temporary stations and operate radios in an attempt to contact as many other stations as possible.   HAM radio operators and clubs set up stations in remote locations in rehearsal for emergency situations where they would provide communications for local civil and emergency organizations.  Using their own equipment, HAM radio operators contact other stations around the country to practice their communication skills.

The Tulare County Amateur Radio Club held it’s event at Tulare’s Zumwalt park, setting up a tent and operating 4 different stations.  Running on emergency power, operators used voice and morse code to contact other stations throughout the USA.   Computers, networked through a wireless router, keep track of contacts,  logging contacted stations for contest score purposes.

After the jump, some pictures from the event in Tulare.

I’ve been a “ham” since 1991, and have attended several Field Day events.  I operate VHF and UHF stations, using FM voice and computer communications systems, and Amateur Television. (yes, I even have my own TV station!)   (My HAM radio pages, here.) A myriad faceted hobby/service, HAM radio operators run the gamut from old style morse code operations, to satellite communications, to bouncing signals off the surface of the Moon!  FM, AM, and Single Side Band voice are just some of the modes used by Amateurs.  The International Space Station operates an Amateur radio station, and most astronauts are “hams”.

In return for the use of valuable bandspace, Amateur Radio operators provide a pool of technically oriented people who can step up and provide life-saving radio communications in times of emergencies.

In many emergency situations – hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes – Amateur Radio is often the only means of communications available for some time.  As the old saying goes… practice makes perfect.