Peninsula hams practice emergency communication skills

<I>Observer file photo</I><BR>Ham radio operators play key roles in keeping communication lines open during major emergencies. Peninsula hams will hold their primary annual practice exercise later this month. Above, local hams connected with the outside world during an event two years ago.

PACIFIC COUNTY - The Pacific County Amateur Radio Club (PCARC) will participate in the radio amateur's annual Field Day operating event contest beginning 11 a.m. Saturday, June 23, and continuing until 11 a.m. Sunday, June 24.

Field Day is where Amateur Radio operators practice emergency communication skills by operating without commercial electricity. The goal is to make as many radio contacts throughout the Western Hemisphere in the two-day period. The event will take place at the Nahcotta Mooring Basin of the Port of Peninsula and the adjacent Morehead Park.

The public is invited to drop in and see ham radio in operation. Those interested can even try their hand at operating and we get extra points if someone 18 or under makes a radio contact. The new Pacific County Command vehicle will be showcased unless it's required to support county operations.

"This vehicle includes amateur radio and we will use it to help us gain points in the contest," local hams say. It will operate as a "Get-On-The-Air" station where the public can participate under the guidance of a coach. Youth participation using this station is encouraged.

Field Day is the largest on-the-air radio operation during the year. Last year, contest logs were submitted by 2,200 clubs, groups and individuals across the U.S., Canada. More than 32,000 people participated in the northern and southern hemispheres. All told, they made over 1.2 million radio contacts.

Pacific County Amateur Radio operators will work around the clock to set up field radio communication stations, get on the air, and contact thousands of other operators as part of participation in the American Radio Relay League's Field Day.

It's also a chance to fine-tune emergency communication skills.

"We use generators and battery power, and we set up antennas in the field. The idea is to put together a self-sufficient, working station quickly and begin making contacts. We will be making voice, digital and Morse code contacts," organizers say.

Last year the club made 913 total radio contacts, including 462 contacts using Morse code and 35 using our special "Get-On-The-Air" station.

"We contacted nearly all states and provinces of Canada and Mexico and the Virgin Islands," according to organizers. "These results gave us second place in our class and region in this international contest. Field Day demonstrated the capability of radio amateurs of Pacific County to contact nearly every state and province in an emergency. This year our Morse code station and our voice station will have improved antennas and radio equipment and we are hopeful for an even better showing. The public is invited to bring their kids and let them make a distant radio contact."

The club meets the first Sunday of each month at 9 a.m., at the Harbor Lights Restaurant in Ilwaco. Anyone interested in ham radio is encouraged to attend and visit the Field Day site at the Port of Peninsula at Nahcotta.

For more information contact: Bob Cline, field day chairman at 665-4496 or Dick Lemke, club president at 665-2438.

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