Radio operators Jim Morrison (right) and Ralph Parker participate in the 2019 Field Day hosted by the Comox Valley Amateur Radio Club in Filberg Park. File photo

Comox Valley ham radio club having its Field Day on weekend

Club holding separate demonstrations June 26 and 27 instead of meeting as one group

Technology changes rapidly, but some methods like amateur or “ham” radio persevere because they have capabilities the new media lack.

To let more people in on this secret, the local ham radio club holds its annual Field Day. This year it will take place from 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 26, to 1 p.m., Sunday, June 27 at a few locations, with social distancing provisions in mind.

“We can’t get together as a large group,” says Yvonne Higgs, a board member of the Comox Valley Amateur Radio Club.

The event will give people a chance to learn more about how amateur radio works, as well as why it is important, as Higgs likens it to a “show and tell” for the group.

“What we’re hoping to do is provide the public an overview of how ham radio can be used,” she says.

Higgs says many people do not appreciate how important the tried and true technology is, especially during a crisis. In the event of a serious, widespread emergency — for example, the blackout caused in Quebec during a massive ice storm in January 1998 — power sources can go down, which in turn affect many of the current technology methods people use. Ham radio, with some battery power, can keep people connected in the worst of situations.

“We can contact people all over the world,” she says.

As well, search and rescue teams also rely on amateur radio operations, particularly in mountain searches where cellular technology might not be accessible.

“They don’t have cell phone contact,” Higgs says. “They really have to rely on their handhelds.”

RELATED STORY: Local ham radio club hosting Field Day at Filberg in Comox

Higgs is a relative newcomer, only getting her licence a couple of years ago. Her call sign is VE7YAH. She will be set up on the front porch at her Courtenay home at #171-202 31st St.

Margaret Ferguson (VA7VF) and Jim Morrison (VE7IBI) will be operating a portable setup in the parking lot of the picnic area on Mansfield Drive, behind the Bayside Cafe.

As well, John Bradbury (VE7XFA) will run his own station and the club’s call sign (VE7CVW). He will be at 1351 Anderton Ave. in Comox. Any other ham operators, Higgs says, without the range of equipment needed can come to Bradbury’s and practise their skills to earn points for the club.

The field day event has been a tradition since the 1930s as a way to test field preparedness and emergency communications. Over that time, it has become the largest on-the-air operation each year. Last year, more than 10,000 clubs, groups and individuals across Canada and the U.S. submitted logs.

“It’s the big event for ham radio,” Higgs says.

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