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Amateur radio operators join national Field Day

By Melissa Crowe
June 20, 2012 at 1:20 a.m.

Texas HAM radio operators John Johnston, left, and John Wagner perform an electromagnetic pulse simulation at the Victoria County Emergency Operation Center. The simulation assumes that a pulse knocked out all commercial electronics, save for those properly protected.

IF YOU GO

• WHAT: Ham Radio Field Day

• WHEN: Noon Saturday to noon Sunday

• WHERE: Citizens Healthplex, 800 Briggs Blvd.

Victoria amateur radio operators will join more than 35,000 others across the U.S. and Canada on Saturday for the annual Ham Radio Field Day.

The 24-hour call-and-answer demonstration is the climax of Amateur Radio Week, sponsored by the National Association for Amateur Radio. Using only emergency power supplies, ham operators will construct emergency stations in parks, shopping malls, schools and backyards around the country.

John Johnston, of the Victoria club, said they will use Morse code, voice and digital methods to communicate across the U.S.

"We'll talk to people in New York and Missouri, the West Coast, and Chicago, and everybody will be trying to make contacts with us also," Johnston said. "It's a fun day to make as many different contacts as possible."

The Victoria Amateur Radio Club, which includes W5DSC, the Golden Crescent Amateur Radio Services; K5VCT, the Coleto Creek Amateur Radio Club; W5DWT, the City of Victoria's Mobile Command Vehicle; and the Victoria County Sheriff's Communication Trailer will set up from noon Saturday to noon Sunday behind Citizens Healthplex, 800 Briggs Blvd.

"It's all about building awareness with the community ... that this capability exists," Johnston said. "It's a lot better to see it in practice than actual use."

Part of the goal of having the outdoor exercise is to simulate conditions of an emergency when normal communication systems are offline and only generator power is available.

Their objective is to work as many stations as possible on the amateur bands, and to learn to operate in abnormal situations in less than optimal conditions, according to the national association.

While some radio operators treat Field Day as a contest, most groups use the opportunity to practice their emergency response capabilities and demonstrate their skills to elected officials and community members, according to the national association.

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