Beginning on January 1 and running through December 31 of 2016, the Amateur Radio Relay League will sponsor the special event National Parks On the Air (Facebook). This event does not begin until January 1, so amateur radio operators have time to register.
Since the 100th anniversay of the ARRL ended in 2014, amateur radio operators have pushed for another year-long event . The ARRL responded to the requests with this year-long event coordinated with the National Parks Service to celebrate their 100th anniversary. There are several awards and certificates available for this event, but HAM operators must register through the ARRL special web site.
Ham operators conduct several events throughout the year to earn certificates and awards. One is called contesting where an operator attempts to contact as many other Ham radio operators around the world as they can in a specified time. Ham operators set up in remote locations and send special cards, called QSL cards, to Ham operators who contact them.
A recent example is the 2015 Route 66 On The Air event. They even made a stop and broadcast in Williams and Flagstaff.
Ham radio operators will “activate” radio units in various parks, such as the Grand Canyon. “Chasers” will try to contact these Activators all year long to collect certificates. Regular paper logs will not be accepted for the event. Amateur radio operators will have to register in the ARRL Log of the World
The history of amateur radio extends to the days when radio transmissions began. Most contacts were made through morse code (called CW or continous wave in Ham radio) transmissions. Today there are a plethora of different radios and contact methods. You are encouraged to learn and use CW, but it is no longer required to obtain a license from the Federal Communications Commission.
Those “activators” will also demonstrate the capablity of Ham radio for uninitiated visitors to the park. They will answer questions and advise people on how they can become licensed Ham radio operators.
If you are interested in learning more about the Amateur Radio Service, how to obtain a license and participate in this event, you can check out the ARRL web site.