Local amateur radio club takes annual field day online

A local amateur radio club had its annual field day virtually this year, with “hams” from across the region showing off their home setups.

Throughout the weekend, operators from the Mount Vernon Amateur Radio Club are taking part in the national field day, where members contact other radio stations from around the world to exchange information.

This is usually done at Pohick Bay Regional Park in Lorton, Virginia, where people could walk up and watch them in action.

“We set up all of these fancy antennas and all of our radios and really make a lot of contact with the public, and we can’t do that this year,” said Heather Tribble, president of the Mount Vernon Amateur Radio Club.

Tribble says it has all shifted online, with hams showing off their radio setups live on their Facebook page.

“We try and showcase our emergency preparedness skills,” Tribble said.

“Show people the fun you can have with amateur radio and other community service aspects of the hobby.”

She says their field day every year shows how amateur radio provides a free public service to communities during a disaster or emergency.

To operate a ham radio, you have to have a license from the Federal Communications Commission, which involves a test.

“If somebody isn’t currently licensed, this would be a great way for them to kind of see what this is all about and get some information about getting licensed and what it takes to do all that as well,” Tribble said.

Every June, more than 40,000 hams throughout the U.S. set up temporary transmitting stations, and more than 35,000 people participated in last year’s activities, according to Tribble.

The annual event has been held since 1933, according to the club, and is one of the most popular events in ham radio.

The virtual field day runs through Sunday.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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