ALEXANDRIA, VA – Ham radio operators from the Mount Vernon Amateur Radio Club (MVARC) in Alexandria, Virginia will be participating in a national amateur radio exercise from 2 p.m. on Saturday until 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 26 – 27. The event is ARRL Field Day (www.arrl.org/FieldDay), an annual amateur radio activity organized since 1933 by ARRL, the national association for amateur radio in the United States.
For more than 100 years, Amateur Radio — also called ham radio — has allowed people from all walks of life to experiment with electronics and communications techniques, as well as provide a free public service to their communities during a disaster or emergency, all without needing a cell phone or the internet.
Hams from across North America ordinarily participate in Field Day by establishing temporary ham radio stations in public locations to demonstrate their skill and service. Their use of radio signals, which reach beyond borders, bring people together while providing essential communication in the service of communities. Field Day highlights ham radio’s ability to work reliably under any conditions from almost any location and create an independent, wireless communications network.
Some hams from the Mount Vernon area will use the radio stations set up in their homes or taken to their backyards and other locations to operate individually or with their families. Many hams have portable radio communication capability that includes alternative energy sources such as generators, solar panels, and batteries to power their equipment.
This year’s event is also noteworthy given that a particularly active hurricane season is predicted. “Hams serve our communities when storms or other disasters damage critical communication infrastructure, including cell towers,” said MVARC President Philip Mulford (AK4KM). “A ham radio station can be set up almost anywhere in minutes. Hams can quickly raise a wire antenna in a tree or on a mast, connect it to a radio and power source, and communicate effectively with others,” Mulford added.
Tune In for Live Sessions on Facebook
While the event is a way for the club’s operators to practice their technical skills and emergency preparedness, it usually also allows MVARC to showcase to the public what amateur radio can do. In that spirit, the club will be hosting live video sessions throughout the weekend on its Facebook page (facebook.com/MountVernonARC). The public is invited to visit the page and check in on our members as they share their stations, their technical knowledge and make contacts. Members are usually able to connect with other amateur radio stations from most of the 50 states during the exercise and make some international contacts as well.
During Field Day 2020, more than 18,000 hams participated from thousands of locations across North America. According to ARRL, there are more than 750,000 amateur radio licensees in the US, and an estimated 3 million worldwide.
Anyone can become a licensed amateur radio operator. There are more than 725,000 licensed amateurs in the U.S. With many clubs like MVARC in the area, it’s easy for anyone to get involved in Northern Virginia. MVARC also co-hosts free monthly license test sessions for interested community members to join the hobby.
MVARC’s Field Day exercise is scheduled from 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 26 until 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 28. For more information, visit facebook.com/MountVernonARC or mvarc.org.