ST. GEORGE – Amateur shortwave operators gathered at Dixie Technical College over the weekend to participate in the annual Field Day competition to see which group could make the most connections across North America on a 24 hour period.
From Saturday at noon until Sunday at noon, members of the Dixie Amateur Radio Club of St. George gathered in a room at the Dixie Tech Emergency Response Training Center where a number of stations from amateur radio were busy. Each station was connected to outdoor antennas that the radio operators had erected before the official start of the competition.
âWe are reaching out to stations across the United States and Canada,â said Ric Wayman, former president of the local amateur radio club and supervisor of this year’s Field Day event.
Field Day was started in 1933 by the American Radio Relay League and had 169 participants at the time. Decades later, the annual event is expected to involve up to 40,000 people across North America. The Dixie Amateur Radio Club has been involved since 1985.
âI was there,â Wayman said. “This is our 36e consecutive year.
There is no major prize at the end of the contest beyond bragging rights for next year, Wayman said, adding that the goal of the event is primarily to have fun and educate participants on the use of radio, as some of them are newcomers.
âWe are happy to share this hobby with anyone,â said Dave Merrill, the current president of the Dixie Amateur Radio Club. Although the club has 120 members, he said there are many amateur radio operators throughout the county.
During the competition, the radioclub contacted 49 states and eight Canadian provinces. The only failed state was Louisiana. In addition, contacts were made with Australia and New Zealand along the way.
At the end of the competition, the club got 2,146 points before any possible bonuses, Wayman said at the end of the event. In the past, one group has scored over 300,000 points, he said, but this is largely due to their management of around 30 radio stations and a multitude of contacts. The local radio club ran three stations for this year’s competition.
The results of the competition will not be known until December, according to the American Radio Relay League website.
Being an amateur radio operator is a lot of fun, Wayman said, adding that anyone can get in, no matter their age or background.
One of the club members attending Field Day on Saturday night was 14-year-old Ryan Seegmiller. He and members of his family got into the hobby after purchasing a jeep that had a ham radio already installed.
âI love to talk to people,â Seegmiller said.
The most distant contact he said he had made on radio so far was with another amateur radio operator in Australia.
âYou can do it for fun. You can do it at the end of the world, like in an emergency, âhe said. “It’s a lot of fun anyway.”
Wayman said the motto of the amateur radio club is: amateur radio when all else fails.
In recent years, there have been radio advertisements acknowledging the help that amateur radio operations can provide in times of disaster.
The Town of St. George has also recognized the local contribution of amateur radio operators. Last week, Mayor Michele Randall read a proclamation declaring June 21-27 “Amateur Radio Week.”
âWe really appreciate Mayor Randall and what she has done for amateur radio in the community,â Wayman said.
Local amateur radio operators have helped the city meet communication needs for over 20 years and have regularly contributed to annual events like the St. George Marathon, he said. The local club also helps the city and county with disasters near their homes and maintains a presence at the Washington County Emergency Services office.
Ed. note: Ric Wayman is weekend editor for St. George News.
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