Brodric Thrash, four, from Bristol, smiled wearing a pair of headphones that were way too big for him during the Amateur Radio Field Day exercise at Fidler Pond on Saturday.
He could hear dots and dashes of old-fashioned Morse code in the headphones while his father participated in a day of amateur radio.
Several members of the Goshen Amateur Radio Club have configured their amateur radios to operate remotely for 24 hours as part of the field day at Fidler Pond. The members were among more than 35,000 radio amateurs who gathered with their clubs, groups or friends to operate from distant locations, said David Menges, member of the Goshen radio club.
Field Day demonstrates the ability of the amateur radio operator to operate reliably in field conditions from almost any location and to create an independent communication network, Menges added.
“The field day part of the competition is to contact as many other stations as possible and learn to use our radio equipment in abnormal situations and under less than optimal conditions,” Menges said. “We will not take a position, it is more for fun than for competitiveness. We practice our emergency response skills and it’s just fun for us to spend 24 hours together.
Dewey Thrash from Bristol said he became a licensed amateur radio operator just before his son was born and decided to take Brodric to the event in the hopes of having another future radio operator in the family.
The 4-year-old said he heard beeps in the headphones.
His father explained that the sounds were a series of codes using Morse code and were issued by an amateur radio operator in Vermont in response to codes sent by Jim Walter of Dunlap during the field exercise.
At a nearby amateur radio setup on a picnic table, Doug Birky of White Pigeon, Mich., Spoke into a microphone and announced a series of numbers and letters to identify himself and the group to other participants in the amateur radio.
Amateur radio operators can talk to each other directly or their signals are relayed and repeated through the International Space Station or other satellites so that they can talk to each other, Birky explained.
There were five 100-watt transmitters installed by members of the Goshen club during the event and powered by two generators. Several antennas around the perimeter of the picnic shelter pushed local signals into the atmosphere.
The Goshen Club was organized in 1905 to promote the science of radio communications through education and public service. In 1995, the club began meeting in the Hohman Activities Building on the Greencroft campus in Goshen and erected a 120-foot tower. A state-of-the-art station is maintained in the building for global shortwave contacts and local communications, Menges said.
The club meets monthly and covers technical topics, such as reports and videos on expeditions with the aim of making contacts in weird and obscure places to build homemade equipment. The club helps serve community events including the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Parade, the Goshen High School Miles for Music and the National Weather Service SKYWARN program. The club is a member of the American Radio Relay League, a national organization of more than 650,000 members, Menges said.
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