Amateur radio club competing in Mike Weir Park’s Field Day

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A 24-hour challenge to make as many contacts using amateur radio as possible is taking place this weekend in Bright’s Grove.

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A 24-hour challenge to make as many contacts using amateur radio as possible is taking place this weekend in Bright’s Grove.

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Members of the Lambton County Radio Club set up shop in Mike Weir Park for Amateur Radio Day from 2:00 p.m. Saturday to 2:00 p.m. Sunday, where the 30 to 40 club members simulate a disaster situation and use unconventional power sources, like generators and solar, to demonstrate the versatility and reliability of communications technology when other types fail, said club president Charles Chivers.

The club formed in 1982 competes with others across North America on field day – an event that dates back to 1933 – to score points for bragging rights, he said.

Networking, engaging elected officials and using alternative energy sources are some of the ways to rack up points, Chivers explained.

But the Lambton group, which represents a fraction of the estimated 200 radio amateurs in the county, is generally more relaxed about the case than other clubs, he said.

“A lot of groups are very committed to collecting all the contacts you can, where others, like us … are more of a social group,” he said. “We use it as a picnic.”

People are encouraged to stop by and check things out, he said, noting that the event also serves as something of a recruitment drive.

This is the club’s first time at Mike Weir Park, he said.

For the past few years, they have made their field day staging grounds at Krall Park in Enniskillen Township, he said.

“We’re the Lambton County Radio Club, but a lot of it is made up of guys from Sarnia,” he said, adding that they plan to branch out to other locations in the years to come.

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There are plans to also have the city’s old mobile command post on site, he said, noting that the club has information on what type of radios a replacement is fitted with.

Amateur radio operators in Lambton are officially part of the emergency communications plan for the province, county and city, he said. Members volunteer their time as trained Environment Canada storm spotters in severe weather.

There is no recent history of the club responding to emergencies, he said, but operators have been called to the United States.

“When things hit the fan and your cell phones go down, no one can communicate, except maybe ham radio,” he said.

Club officials said there were more than 75,000 licensed amateur radio operators in Canada and more than 45,000 people in North America participated in last year’s field day.

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