Ham radio operators use field day event to hone skills

It's also a contest of sort against other amateur (ham) radio operators.

Winona Ham Radio enthusiasts gathered on Saturday for the annual Field Day at Wincrest Park, and spent a day experimenting with electronics in a communication trailer.

The rapid jaunt of Morse code dots and dashes Nick Yokanovich tapped out on his telegraph sounder carried across the field on the sluggish summer wind like an echo from another time.

Ham radio operators are amateurs with licenses from the Federal Communications Commission. Through the ARRL's Amateur Radio Emergency Services program, ham volunteers provide both emergency communications for thousands of state and local emergency response agencies and non-emergency community services too, all for free. Members of the North Augusta Belvedere Radio Club, which covers Aiken County, are participating in the exercise and taking shifts during the weekend.

Amateur Radio is growing in the US.

He says they provide a back-up network of communications in times of emergencies.

Czaikowski said he's been a ham for 54 years and he sees more people becoming hams than 50 years ago.

Ham radio operators work in conjunction with first responders supplying needed critical information while at the same time offering another avenue of communication with the outside world.

"It's also a way of showcasing our hobby", he said.

"It's going really well", said club president Derek Hawk, "by about midnight we'd made a contact with every state in the USA, and we've made 575 total contacts so far".

Participants began at 2 p.m. Saturday and the exercise will conclude at 2 p.m. Sunday.

  • Audrey Hill