When emergency strikes, normal communication methods can be taken down with a lack of power, however, with a power generator and a bit of knowledge, ham radio can be used to contact the rest of the world.
During the annual American Radio Relay League, ARRL, Field day the W6JW Santa Clarita Amateur Radio Club had the opportunity to show the public how important a ham radio is through a contest and picnic.
W6JW arrived at the Castaic Lake Water Agency’s office early Saturday morning to set up various radios and antennas to start the field day at 11 a.m. and begin the contest.
“There was so much activity right as the field day started,” said Kristine Wiscarson who helped organize this years field day. “Just so many others on the radio. But as the day goes on it slows down and the real work begins trying to reach people.”
According to ARRL, the contest part of the field is to contact as many other field day stations and to learn to operate a radio in abnormal situations and conditions.
“Every year it’s like 110 degrees, but this year is really nice. Well besides the wind,” Wiscarson said right after a huge gust of wind knocked down one of their antennas and almost blew away one the canopies.
The field day lasts a full 24 hours from Saturday to Sunday, something ARRL claims helps teach the skills needed in operating a ham radio during an emergency situation like the next big earthquake.
“If an earthquake hits power lines can go down and our phones could stop working, you can be left without a way to communicate with the outside world,” Wiscarson explained. “Having a radio allows us to get news about things that are happening around us and we can tell others.”
While probably not the most popular method of talking to others, ham radio is still used throughout the world and beyond.
“Earlier today we were able to connect to someone from Argentina, or trying to contact Argentina,” Wiscarson said about the contest, though her goal was to reach the stars. “I would like to connect to the International Space Station. Though they already said the ISS would not be available for field day this year. They’re just too busy.”
For those looking to learn how to use ham radio, W6JW hosts monthly meetings and is always happy to accept new members, Wiscarson said.
For more information about W6JW, check out their website at https://w6jw.org/.
“I started learning radio to be able to talk to my dad,” Wiscarson said. “I could never reach him over the phone. But I knew he was always in front of his radio. So learning this allowed me to connect to my dad.”