Amateur radio operators join others across the country for a field day

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DOVER’s amateur radio operators occupied the grandstand at the Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Their goal was to use their equipment to see how many different contacts they could make with other “amateurs” as part of Amateur Radio Field Day, a 24-hour event that aims to test their ability to communicate in the event of a problem. ’emergency.

“It’s a bit like the Super Bowl for us. We’re running on back-up power, things like that, ”said Jeff Voltz, president of the TUSCO ham radio club operations. “It’s not a contest, but we are counting the points.”

The club earns points for every contact made with a radio operator elsewhere, Voltz said. Bonus points are awarded for posting on social media, writing a press release, posting in the newspaper, the presence of an elected official and the presence of firefighters – for any reason other than a fire. Double points are awarded for the use of Morse code and the arrival of a new person on the radio.

Plans have been made to attempt to contact a satellite.

“We’re here to do new things,” said Voltz, of Newcomerstown. “This is our educational exercise for the day. “

The value of amateur radio was demonstrated when local amateurs maintained communications during the 2005 flood that cut off electricity and telephone service to Zoar and Wilkshire Hills, said Stephen VonKaenel of New Philadelphia.

“It’s a medium that is available when nothing else is available,” club member Gregory Kimble said. He once used his ham radio to make phone calls after a fiber-optic cable was severed, destroying 17 cell phone towers.

“When all else fails, amateur radio works,” Voltz said. “All we need is a battery, a radio and a wire in the air and we can communicate with the world. “

Tuscarawas County Emergency Management Agency Director Alex McCarthy graduated in 2016.

“If we ever had a big communication system failure, then we could potentially work with our ham radio operators to help out in some way,” McCarthy said. “Whenever there’s a crisis, we look at what partners we have and, ‘Hey, is there a way for them to help us? “”

Members of the Tusco Amateur Radio Club tend to be older, Voltz said. But youth is not an obstacle to participation.

At 17, David Johnson of Uhrichsville is the club’s youngest member. He developed an interest in amateur radio after attending a field day at the age of 14. He subsequently obtained his amateur radio license. He networked club members’ computers for the day in the field. He is studying computer systems network technology at the Buckeye Career Center.

Voltz highlights Johnson’s progression from visitor, to operator, to a related career as an example of the opportunities offered by amateur radio.

As a hobby, amateur radio offers operators the opportunity to talk with others around the world.

The most distant contact ever made by Dover club vice-president Brent Gribble was 6,500 miles across Slovenia.

His setup for the day in the field included a generator, tuner, radio, and laptop. His 117-foot-long antenna – the same one he uses at home – hung under the grandstand through the trees.

The staging in the grandstand will give radio operators a sense of how signals travel through the structure, he said.

“To test your emergency capabilities, it’s the idea of ​​a field day,” Gribble said. “They encourage people to move to different places every year. This way you get a feel for your area, as far as you get the best or the worst communications.

Past field locations have included Fort Laurens in Bolivar, Deis Hill in Dover, Tuscora Park in New Philadelphia, and a church in Gnadenhutten.

Field Day is always the fourth full weekend in June. In the United States, it is typically the largest emergency preparedness exercise in the country, involving more than 30,000 operators each year.

Members of the Tusco Amateur Radio Club must participate in the field day until 2 p.m. Sunday.

Contact Nancy at 330-364-8402 or [email protected]

On Twitter: @nmolnarTR

Brent Gribble from Dover put his radio equipment in his truck for Amateur Radio Day on Saturday.  He parked under the grandstand at the Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds.

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