June 21, 2006 – This coming weekend, members of the St. John Amateur Radio Club will join their fellow ham radio operators from around the United States and Canada for the annual 24-hour marathon emergency preparedness exercise called the Field Day for Amateur Radio Enthusiasts.
The public is invited to stop by to see St. John's ham radio operators in action from 10 a.m. Saturday to 2 p.m. Sunday at Bellevue Community Center on Gifft Hill Road.
Member George Cline said Wednesday that the event provides an opportunity for residents who might like to get involved in ham radio to try it out. "They can transmit," he said.
And, he said the organization gets points for visitors who sign the logbook, so those who drop in to the Bellevue Community Center help the St. John Amateur Radio Club accrue points. "It's a contest," Cline said.
According to Cline, the organization is looking for new members. It currently has about eight to 10 active members.
Organization president Paul Jordan said that it's a hobby that participants can enjoy throughout their life. He said some people have developed extensive networks of friends around the globe through ham radio.
For the weekend exercise, the ham radio operators set up their equipment under simulated emergency conditions using battery power, generators, solar power, and portable antennas.
"When everything is knocked out, amateur radio is the link," member Phyliss Benton said Wednesday, referring to the widespread telephone outages that have occurred when hurricanes hit the island.
Jordan said that members "throw a wire up into a coconut tree" and operate as if a storm or earthquake had hit.
At the Field Day, members will attempt to contact ham radio operators around the globe.
Benton said the organization attracts a cross section of community members, including women.
She said that in addition to getting messages out and receiving messages during disasters, the members help with communications at events like the 8 Tuff Miles Race and other community events.
The club's radio call sign is K2SJ.
For more information about the club, call Jordan at 776-6568 or 513-3703.
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