June 27, 2003 – Members of the St. John Amateur Radio Club will join their counterparts around North America on Saturday and Sunday for this year's American Radio Relay League Field Day.
It's the nation's largest annual ham radio event, and the objective is to see who can make the most contacts during a 24-hour period.
"It's like a contest to see how many radio contacts you can make around the United States," St. John ham radio operator Malcolm Preston said.
The V.I. group also will try to contact ham radio operators in Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America. And while the participants are trying to add to their contact list, they're also brushing up on their skills, working under simulated emergency conditions and using generator-and battery-powered radio equipment and portable antennas.
The St. John group, which will be assisted by other licensed ham radio operators from St. Thomas and St. Croix, will set up at the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Office in Susannaberg. In previous years, members have held their field day at other locations around St. John, but Preston said having it at VITEMA's Emergency Command Center gives the members on-site experience.
When hurricanes or other emergencies hit, the ham radio operators work out of the VITEMA office. "In a hurricane, we're often the only ones who can get through," Preston said.
He said that the event will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and will last through Sunday afternoon. How late they work depends on how well signals go through.
The field day also is a good opportunity for people who aren't operators to explore an interest in ham radio. Visitors are welcome to stop by and "operate the radio and see what it's all about," Preston said.
He said the St. John club has about 20 members. As some are currently off island, he expects eight or nine to participate in this weekend's activity.
For more information about ham radio operation or participating in the field day, call Preston at 693-8782.
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