In the hills above Central Park amateur radio operators took part in a 24 hour competition.
The competition, held from 11:00 a.m. Saturday June 26 to 11:00 a.m. Sunday June 27, pitted amateur radio operators against each other for Amateur Radio Field Day at the Castaic Lake Water Agency above the park.
The HAMs, which are the type of radios these operators use, are not normal radios. They are very large with lots of buttons and big knobs, used to dial into frequencies, and have antennas which raise over 20 feet in the air.
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The 24 hour field day is a contest held by the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) to see which groups can contact other radio operators and log the contacts from people around southern California, the country and around the world. The group with the most contacts wins the contest.
The contest isn’t all fun and games. It demonstrates a very real need for amateur radio operators. In the event of a serious emergency, cell phones and traditional methods of communication could be knocked out.
The HAMs would take over communications, setting up impromptu antennas with generators to reestablish communication.
Members of the Santa Clarita Amateur Radio Club W6JW have noticed less amateur operators in recent years.
As more teenagers and younger children become fixated with computers and video game consoles, amateur radio doesn’t seem very high tech.
During the ’60s and ’70s if someone was interested in the high tech you would get an amateur radio set. After taking a test and with some basic equipment you could be communicating with people across the globe.
With the advent of the internet and cell phones, interest in amateur radio keeps declining. The Santa Clarita Amateur Radio Club hopes to keep interest in amateur radio by holding Field Days.
Members of W6JW also go to schools to show kids what can be done with amateur radio. From talking to people across the country to astronauts in the International Space Station, amateur radio offers fascinating opportunities that the internet can’t offer.
To see more pictures from the event, click here.