Field Day is an annual event for Ham Radio operators across the United States and Canada in which they attempt to contact as many other short wave radio enthusiasts as possible in a 24 hour period.
Sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), Field Day took place last Saturday in Half Moon Bay.
David Richards is the emergency coordinator for the local group of Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) operators. ARES is comprised of local volunteer licensed amateurs who prepare to perform communication services in case of disaster.
"(We are) hams that suppprt the city of Half Moon Bay during emergencies and events like parades and , providing communication support for the events," Richards said. "Field Day is mostly a way of staying in practice, so that if we ever have to operate in an emergency, we're sure that all the equipment works and everybody remembers how to use it."
"In order to operate a ham radio, you need a license from the Federal Communication Commission. There are three levels of license: Technician, General and Extra, each having progressively more operating privileges," Richards said.
According to Richards, one can operate any band that is available with an extra license.
"Call signs are globally unique," Richards added.
The Half Moon Bay group consists of about a dozen operators that took turns on the radios for the 24-hour period. During the event, the group attempts to contact other operators and exchange call signs. If successful, both parties log the other's call sign in a database. That information is later confirmed by the ARRL and tallied in this informal nationwide contest.
Setting up at Venice Beach — one of the group of beaches that together comprise — this group's call sign is WR6HMB 2A SCV. The call sign can be broken down into these components:
- WR6: a 6-state region in the west which includes California and HMB stands for Half Moon Bay.
- 2A: their Class of Station (two transmitters) off the grid, working on generators or battery.
- SCV: the Santa Clara Valley that consists of five counties, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties.
Venice Beach was chosen as the field day location due to its flat area away from the hills. State Parks supported the use of the beach for the event.
The group used 2 different antennas, a directional yagi transmitting at 10, 15 and 20 meters and a huge loop that transmitted at 40 and 80 meters about 30 feet in the air. The antennas were installed the previous evening and took about two hours to set up.
The video contains the actual audio of the operators making contacts around the country.
For more information about the Half Moon Bay chapter of ARES, visit their web page.