Every year licensed civilian radio operators, known worldwide as HAMS, demonstrate their ability to establish emergency lines of communication. Last weekend about 30 such volunteers from the Lodi Amateur Radio Club gathered to set up multiple antenna systems, solar arrays for power, computers and an assortment of radio transceivers to participate in Field Day.
Since the first ARRL Field Day in 1933, radio amateurs throughout North America have practiced the rapid deployment of radio communications equipment in environments ranging from operations under tents in remote areas to operations inside Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs). Operations using emergency and alternative power sources are highly encouraged, since electricity and other public infrastructures are often among the first to fail during a natural disaster or severe weather.
To determine the effectiveness of the exercise and of each participant’s operations, there is an integrated contesting component, and many clubs also engage in concurrent leisure activities (camping out, cookouts, etc.). Operations typically last a continuous twenty-four hours, requiring scheduled relief operators to keep stations on the air. Additional contest points are awarded for experimenting with unusual modes, making contacts via satellite, and involving youth in the activity.