By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
The Washington Area Amateur Radio Club (WAARC) will hold its annual winter field day from 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 to 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27 at the Washington County Fairgrounds extension office.
WAARC president Mark Lukins said the field day will give amateur radio operators the chance to drill with their equipment. He said the goal for the radio operators is to make as many contacts as they can in the 24-hour period. He said the event is open to the public and citizens are encouraged to come to the event and see what the club is about and how it operates. Lukins said the club?s communications trailer also will be at the event for people to see. The communication trailer is able to operate without outside sources of electricity.
?They can come out and see what we are doing,? Lukins said. ?In fact, we give them a chance to get on the air if they want.?
He said the club holds two drills a year, in January and June.
A large part of the amateur radio hobby has always been public service.
It is a tradition for amateur radio operators to be able to transmit in an environment where there is no electrical grid. The operators regularly engage in preparedness activities to practice transmitting and relaying messages in the National Traffic System. The WAARC has also helped with communication in such things as races, parades and the fair.
Lukins said points are awarded during the event for operating off-grid and for the number of people contacted with both voice and Morse code.
?Amateur radio was developed for emergency communications and it is a way for us to hone our skills,? Lukins said. ?We practice setting up everything, running our equipment, and being able to operate efficiently on the air no matter what the conditions are or where we set up at. This is one exercise that we can kind of hone our skills with.?
He also said this is also a manner in which the club can showcase its activities to the public.
He said the club is not always in the public eye and this allows the public to see what happens.
It also gives people with a budding interest in amateur radio the chance to learn more about getting started.
People interested in the WAARC can contact the members through the club?s website at www.waarc.net, call Lukins at (319) 855-4007, or attend a meeting at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at the Washington Public Library.