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Ham radio operators to show off skills on Field Day

Sonny Long

By Sonny Long
June 14, 2013 at 1:14 a.m.

John Johnston, left, demonstrates amateur radio operation to Richard Garcia during Field Day 2012. Three Crossroads groups will be participating in Field Day 2013.

In a disaster, communication is key.

When traditional methods of communication fail, usually because of power outages or downed cellphone towers, amateur radio operators play an essential role.

Amateur radio operators, called "hams," provide backup communications for everything from the American Red Cross to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"There are two qualities of ham radio that make it vital to emergency communications - flexibility and availability," said Harvey Babb, president of the Victoria Amateur Radio Club.

"Hams are flexible in that we, as a group, have practical knowledge in a wide variety of communications technologies and are experienced in their use.

"That flexibility gives us many alternate choices if normal communications modes are taken out by a disaster. We can still communicate with distant locations using our portable ham radios and simple wire antennas.

"If the power is out, we can run our equipment from a generator, a battery, or a solar panel," Babb said.

"Hams are available because our homes are here, and we're ready and willing to help."

On June 22 and 23, Victoria area hams will join with thousands of other amateur radio operators to show their emergency capabilities.

The 2013 Field Day will be at Citizens Healthplex, 9406 N.E. Zac Lentz Parkway.

Field Day is the climax of the weeklong Amateur Radio Week sponsored by the American Radio Relay League, the national association for amateur radio.

More than 35,000 amateur radio operators across the country participated in last year's event.

The group's slogan, "When all else fails, ham radio works," is more than just words to the hams as they prove they can send messages in many forms without the use of telephone systems, the Internet or any other infrastructure that can be compromised in a crisis, according to a news release from the Victoria club.

In the Crossroads area, the Victoria Amateur Radio Club - W5DSC, the Coleto Creek Amateur Radio Club - W5DWT and the Golden Crescent Amateur Radio Service - K5VCT will be taking part in Field Day 2013.

The public is invited to come and meet the radio operators and see ham radio's new capabilities.

Field Day officially begins at noon June 22 and ends at noon June 23.

Visitors can also learn how to get a Federal Communication Commission radio license.

Volunteer examiners from the Victoria Amateur Radio Club will administer amateur radio license exams at 3 p.m. June 22.

Contact Babb at harveyb@tisd.net or 361-676-0356 to prearrange the test.



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