What happens when a natural disaster or a malicious attack takes down the telecom network? One tried and true option is for amateur radio operators to roll into action.
Their capabilities will on display this weekend at a Lovettsville-area farm as the Loudoun Amateur Radio Group participates in the annual marathon emergency training exercise known as Field Day, sponsored by the American Radio Relay League.
Constant radio communication among amateur radio stations in the U.S. and Canada is required during the 24-hour training exercise, using generator- or battery-powered amateur radio equipment, simulating conditions that would be experienced during a disaster or emergency scenario. It’s the 23rd year for LARG’s participation in the friendly competition and the group often performs in the top tier of ham in Virginia and nationally.
“Ham radio is a great hobby but radio amateurs pitch in when all else fails,” Club President Chris Patton said. “We help in natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and floods, and many were on the air to assist on 9/11. We provide basic communication support when electricity and cell networks are inoperable. Field Day is the annual chance for us to practice our skills, to introduce young people to the world of amateur radio, and to have some friendly competition with other Amateur Radio clubs across America and Canada.”
Starting Saturday afternoon, the club will operate seven stations on discrete over-the-air frequencies, including one via satellite. Organizers plan a Get On The Air station to allow young people to talk with other stations across the country while under the supervision of a trained radio operator.
Field Day activities begin at 2 p.m. June 24 and continue through the night without interruption until 2 p.m. Sunday, June 25.
The LARG Field Day site is at 38668 Sierra Lane, off Rt. 287 south of Lovettsville. Visitors are welcome. Learn more at k4lrg.org.