Amateur Radio Club holding Field Day this weekend

  • Club members set up an antenna at the Franklin County Amateur Radio Club’s 2017 Field Day. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/19/2019 6:27:49 PM

GREENFIELD — Along with 30,000 other amateur radio clubs around the country, the Franklin County Amateur Radio Club will be on the air and giving first-time radio operators a chance to try broadcasting for Amateur Radio Field Day this weekend.

The club will be set up at Poet’s Seat Tower from 2 p.m. on Saturday to 2 p.m. on Sunday. People who have never tried amateur radio — “ham radio,” practitioners call it — are encouraged to visit.

Ham radio is unique in that it does not rely on infrastructure as other communication systems like phone and internet do. This makes it ideal for disaster situations where electricity and phones may not work, said Franklin County Amateur Radio Club President Aaron Addison. The Franklin County club also helps with local events like the Bridge of Flowers Road Race and the Deerfield Dirt Road Randonneé, races that go through areas with no cellphone service.

Clubs around the country use Amateur Radio Field Day as an exercise in setting up a working communication network in case of an emergency. But the event is also meant to attract new people to the hobby. At Poet’s Seat, the club will have a “Get on the Air” station, where a licensed operator will walk first-timers through using the radio.

A ham radio’s signal can reach well into outer space. Combined with the relatively lax regulation of the airwaves, it means that amateur operators in Greenfield can talk with researchers in Antarctica or on the International Space Station, Addison said.

“You can talk to an astronaut about what it’s like to be in space, or where they’re from and what they’re looking forward to doing when they come back down to Earth,” Addison said. “I, just the other day, had a brief message with someone off the coast of Chile, using a radio that only puts out five watts of power.” For comparison, a standard light bulb is 100 watts, he added. “To me, that’s amazing.”

Addison emphasized how low the barrier to entry is. Operators must be licensed, but Addison teaches a class at Greenfield Community College to help people with the licensing test. The class costs $15, and he’s had students as young as 11 years old get certified.

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ex 261.


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