Groups of HAM operators all over the country will be gathering on Saturday to attempt contact with each other in an event known as Field Day.
Field Day is an annual exercise in emergency readiness and involves HAMS from all 50 states and Canada. It is a 24-hour event, lasting from 2 p.m. on Saturday to 2 p.m. on Sunday.
The event is sponsored by the American Radio Relay League, the nation's largest organization of radio amateurs (HAMS).
According to Ken Queen, participant in Saturday's event and Clarksburg native, Field Day is a contest that consists of HAMS making contact with other HAMS in the United States and internationally. This will be the seventh year HAMS from Harrison County and Queen's group of HAMS from Anne Arundel County in Maryland will gather for Field Day at the Big Bear Camplands in Preston County. Queen has made contact with every state except Alaska in the past, and he hopes to be able to touch all 50 states along with some international locations this year.
Those taking part in the event are now improvising antennas, wires and cables to set up temporary remote locations and make as many connections as possible. Generator, solar and battery power sources will all be used to simulate emergencies in which the usual power sources don't work.
Queen says that teams in the event get points for different aspects, like the number of contacts made, the mode used to make contact (Morse code, voice, etc.), the amount of power utilized and the number of people involved. Winners of the competition, which will take place throughout the United States and Canada, will receive recognition in the American Radio Relay Leagues magazine, QST.
"The whole purpose of (Field Day) is to practice in case of an emergency," says Queen, whose call number is K3EQ. "It's fun getting together and talking to people all over the country, but the important thing is being ready."
In the past, HAMS have been called upon to work with groups like the Salvation Army and assist when hurricanes, floods, mudslides, earthquakes, tornadoes and other disasters have eliminated primary communications.
Another group of local HAMS from the Stonewall Jackson Amateur Radio Association and the North Central Radio Contesters in Harrison County will also be participating in Field Day Saturday on Lowndes Hill.
Queen invites anyone interested to attend the event. For more information, contact him at 1-410-437-7142.
Staff writer Danny Forinash can be reached at 626-1446.