Corrected 6:43 am; 6/26
FLAGSTAFF — The Coconino County Amateur Radio Club participated in the Amateur Radio Relay League annual Field Day Event. The event is designed to demonstrate the abilities of amateur radio. Part of the demonstration includes allowing people to operate gear even without a license.
The event also allowed amateur radio operators, also called “Hams,” to demonstrate the usefulness of communications in an emergency situation. All of the units demonstrated were operated on alternative power, such as battery or generators.
Ron KG7OH and other CERT members displayed the equipment received after successful training. They were available for questions on the program and what you should carry when you hike in the woods in northern Arizona.
The Coconino Amateur radio club has an Amateur Radio Emergency System (ARES) team which provides emergency communications in times of distress. They operate in conjunction with CERT or separately depending on the situation. ARES is the ARRL version of what the Federal Communication Commission calls RACES or Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service. Last year Arizona lost all telephone and Internet service when a fiber optic cable was cut and the FBI is investigating the cutting of fiber optic cables in California at least eleven-times. In these instances, amateur radios still work. Amateur radio operators have assisted in emergency communications in virtually every disaster faced by America. Including 911 and the devastation in Katrina.
COCO President, Sandy Meadowcroft, KF4JHC, demonstrated how amateur radios can be used to track a person in an emergency using GPS and a basic amateur hand held unit. She also demonstrated how Ham radio operators can pass emails even when the Internet is down. Glen, KG7YDJ, displayed a small radio and basic car jump starter can be used as an emergency communication system.
Flagstaff Mayor Jerry Nabours even stopped by to get a sample of the many uses of amateur radio.
People also got to see the fun side of amateur radio. Amateur operators constantly work to improve their equipment and communication skills by making contacts as far away as they can. While Morse code is no longer a requirement for a license, many Hams still use it as a viable communication skill today.
While some Ham operators purchase radios and antennas from various outlets, others still build their own. Communications using digital computer programs are popular. There is even amateur radio television.
Joe, W7LUX, set up telescopes so that people could see activities on the sun. Unfortunately we are currently in a solar minimum, so there was not much to see. Joe still answered questions about how solar activity acts on the atmosphere of the earth to provide long distance communication.
The ARRL Field Day runs until 11 a.m. tomorrow and the Coconino Radio Club will start to break down the demonstration. If you are interested in amateur radio, the Coconino Amateur Radio Club meets every 2nd Thursday of the month (Except December) at 7 p.m. at the Sizzler on Route 66 and Fanning Drive in Flagstaff. You can also visit their web site.