Field Day is ham radio’s open house. Every June, more than 40,000 hams throughout North America set up temporary transmitting stations in public places to demonstrate ham radio’s science, skill and service to our communities and our nation. It combines public service, emergency preparedness, community outreach, and technical skills all in a single event. Field Day has been an annual event since 1933, and remains the most popular event in ham radio.
Several people have asked what our recommendations are for radios; not only amateur radio equipment, but also scanners and shortwave monitoring. Communications are a vital aspect of our every day lives. Communication will be just as important, or more so, in a disaster or emergent situation. Having reliable equipment relieves the end user of much frustration and could be a life saver.
First, a very brief discussion of radio frequency is in order for those readers who have not made any study of radio previously. Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation which moves at the speed of light from the transmitting antenna. This radiation takes the form of electromagnetic waves. Higher energy waves have a higher frequency (number of waves per second) and a shorter wavelength (distance between each successive wave peak). Lower energy waves have a lower frequency and longer wavelength. Frequency is measured in megahertz (MHz) or millions of waves per second. Different portions of the entire frequency range are grouped together and given shorthand names to aid in their discussion.
The portion of spectrum which interests us for purposes of this article runs from approximately 3 MHz up to 3,000 MHz. This range has been grouped into three sections. High Frequency (HF) runs from 3 MHz to 30 MHz. Very High Frequency (VHF) goes from 30 MHz to 300 MHz, and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) runs from 300 MHz to 3,000 MHz.
HF is primarily used for long-range communication. HF signals are reflected from the ionosphere which allows them to propagate beyond the horizon. HF signals may take several reflections off the ionosphere and off the earth to travel great distances. This kind of atmospheric reflection is referred to as skywave propagation. VHF and UHF are considered line of sight frequencies. VHF and UHF are limited to distances not much greater than the distance to the horizons, assuming no obstructions to the line of sight. In certain atmospheric conditions, VHF signals may be reflected by the atmosphere, allowing for greater range, but this happening at UHF is exceeding rare and neither should be relied upon for communication. Most VHF/UHF signal propagation is direct wave or surface wave propagation, and reflection.
Registration is $7 per person. Tickets are only available at the door.
Activities begin Friday at noon. The grounds open for tents and RVs (no hookups) on Thursday afternoon.
- Free camping
- Prizes, bingo, rabbit hunt
- Ice cream social, Friday night
- VE testing
- Breakfast Saturday morning
- Continental breakfast Sunday morning
- Swap meet/tailgating
Contact: Tracy Lathrop – KD7KBE@msn.com, (509) 393-2579 (please leave a message)
Talk-in: W7TD repeater 146.68 MHz ( – / 156.7 tone)
The Communications Academy will be held at South Seattle College on the weekend of April 14th and 15th. Keynote speakers for 2018 include the Director of Washington Military Department’s Emergency Management Division (EMD) and ham radio author and editor Ward Silver (N0AX). There are six sessions designed for ham radio beginners:
- ) Session #5 Radio basics: How to Choose Your First Radio – Carl Leon, N7KUW
- ) Session #11 Radio basics: I have my Radio – Now How do I Turn It On? – Joel Ware, KD7QKK and Bill Thomassen, N6NBN
- ) Session #15 Radio basics: Radio Safety for Beginners – Jon Newstrom, KL7GT
- ) Session #22 Radio basics: But I am Afraid to Talk into the Microphone – Alan Jones, KD7KUS
- ) Session #27 Radio basics: This is Fun – What’s Next? – Don Marshall, KE7ARH
- ) Session #31 Radio basics: Where Do I Go from Here? – Carl Leon, N7KUW
There are also sessions on the incident command system, ham radio IP networks, Winlink, Hurricanes Harvey and Maria response, and much more.
Communications Academy is a non-profit coalition of volunteer communications teams to provide a high quality, professional-grade training opportunity for the various emergency communications teams around the Pacific Northwest. By providing a once-a-year large-scale venue for training, volunteer communicators are exposed to topics in emergency management, communications techniques and protocols, real-life emergency responses, and other pertinent subjects, which might not otherwise be available to them.
In past years the academy has been able to attract several nationally known speakers for the keynote sessions.
The Communications Academy is open to anyone with an interest in emergency communications, volunteer or professional. The presentations are designed to promote the development of knowledgeable, skilled emergency communicators who will support their local communities during a disaster or emergency response.
The communications team has an amateur radio packet bulletin board system set up for member radio operator use. Operators who want to use the system should contact KW4MP or KC7QHE for help setting up your radio and computers to access the system.
From ARRL.org, Radio Amateur on St. Lucia Relays Reports of Hurricane Devastation on Dominica, a reminder of the usefulness of alternative communications methods during a disaster:
As “potentially catastrophic Hurricane Maria” is headed for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Frans van Santbrink, J69DS, on St. Lucia checked into the VoIP Hurricane Net to relay damage reports he gathered via repeater conversations with hams on Dominica, which was hit by Category 5 Hurricane Maria.
He recounted a damage report from Kerry Fevrier, J69YH, in Roseau, Dominica. “Trees down, river has flooded half the village, cars are all over, most houses have lost their roofs or are destroyed, the area between his house and the church is just flattened…in his words, ‘devastation is total,’” van Santbrink told the net.
He also heard from J73CI, who has lost his roof; J73WA on the northern end of the island, who lost his tower and was uncertain how he was going to weather the back end of the storm, and J73MH, who also lost his roof and was “just hunkering down and hoping for the best.”
The National Emergency Net of the FMRE — Mexico’s national Amateur Radio association, has activated on 7.060 MHz (the Net also may operate on 3.690 MHz) to handle any emergency traffic after a late evening earthquake occurred off Mexico’s coast. Radio amateurs not involved in the earthquake disaster should avoid those frequencies.
The potent magnitude 8.2 earthquake off Mexico’s Pacific Coast — the strongest in 100 years — has resulted in multiple fatalities so far, including 23 in Oaxaca, seven in Chiapas, and 2 in Tabasco. Rescue and recovery efforts are under way to free victims trapped in the rubble.
The tremor was felt around Central America. At 0500 UTC, Jose Arturo Molina, YS1MS, reported feeling a strong temblor within a few minutes of the earthquake in Chiapas, which is near Mexico’s border with Guatemala. In Honduras, Antonio Handal, HR2DX, located on the North Coast, also reported feeling the quake.
The Central American Network operates at 7.090 kHz, and Guatemala at 7.075 MHz. No reports have been heard yet from Guatemalan radio amateurs. In Southeastern Mexico, FMRE has a link to the WL2K Network with capacity to cover Mexico and Central America. — Thanks to IARU Region 2 Coordinator Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, for some information
Hurricane Irma, making its way through the Caribbean with the possibility of affecting South Florida by week’s end, has, in the words of the National Hurricane Center (NHC), become “an extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane.” The NHC urged that hurricane preparations be rushed to completion in areas now under hurricane warnings…
The HWN will activate at 1800 UTC (2 PM EDT) on its primary frequency of 14.325 MHz and will remain in continuous operation until further notice, Graves said. Daytime operation will begin at 1100 UTC each day continuing for as long as propagation allows. Operation on 7.268 MHz will start at 2200 UTC and continue overnight. “If propagation dictates, we will operate both frequencies at the same time,” Graves said. The HWN marks its 52nd anniversary this week.
He noted that HWN operation on 7.268 MHz will pause at 1130 UTC, and, if required, resume at approximately 1230 UTC, to allow the Waterway Net to conducts its daily net…
IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinator Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, has compiled a list of emergency frequencies, subject to change, for use in the Caribbean in anticipation of Hurricane Irma.
- Puerto Rico: 3.803, 3.808, 7.188 MHz. Radio amateurs in Puerto Rico also will cooperate with the HWN on 7.268 and 14.325 MHz.
- Cuba: Daylight hours, 7.110 MHz (primary) and 7.120 MHz (secondary); Provincial Net — 7.045, 7.080 MHz, and on other lower frequencies as necessary. Nighttime, 3.740 MHz (primary) and 3.720 MHz (secondary) and on other lower frequencies as necessary.
- Dominican Republic: 3.873 MHz (primary), 3.815 MHz (secondary), 7.182 MHz (primary), 7.255 MHz (secondary); 14.330 MHz (primary), 21.360 MHz (primary), 28.330 MHz (primary).
- Caribbean Emergency and Weather Net (CEWN): 3.815 MHz and 7.162 MHz (when necessary). NOTE: Net will activate continuously starting this evening until the hurricane has passed through…
The FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) reminded licensees this week that FCC rules address operation during emergencies. “These rules allow licensees to provide emergency communications during a period of emergency in a manner or configuration not specified in the station authorization or in the rules governing such stations,” the FCC said.
NC Scout writes of the utility of the six meter amateur radio band, while also encouraging people to acquire better radio gear than the cheapest thing they can get.
These days, nearly exclusively, when someone brings up survivalist communications, the default always resigns to some sort of chinese dual bander with the added justification “because its cheap!” Nevermind the fact that the build quality is junk and the thing will likely fail the person using it sooner rather than later, they keep being bought because the personality cults of the Internet tell them to…only because they’re cheap. But if one thought critically, all those folks having the ability to listen to hi band VHF and UHF might be a bad thing- especially if you’re looking for any sort of security.
Your area may be different, but around here there’s next to no activity on some of the other bands…you know, the ones Baofeng doesn’t make a radio for. Especially interesting for Survivalists is the capability the 6M band offers- with little to no overall traffic, great capability in rural terrain and many older repeaters sitting idle, 6M really needs more consideration for those actually concerned with creating a capable net versus those just cosplaying…