Starting at noon on Saturday, June 28, the Herriman Amateur Radio Club will operate short-wave radio stations from the Herriman Library parking lot as part of nationwide Field Day activities. The club welcomes visitors who would like to see short-wave communications in action and who might like to learn more about amateur-radio as a hobby or for emergency communications. Visitors can participate and send short messages to other stations in the US and Canada, or possible in another country. Look for signs, antennas, and the Herriman City Emergency Operations Center trailer. Club operations will run until about 8 p.m. Children 12 and under can get a free hot dog and soft drink between noon and 2 p.m.
The American Radio Relay League which represents amateurs in the U.S. encourages radio operators-nicknamed hams-to set up a Field Day station as they would when needed for emergency communications. In this way, individuals and clubs can test equipment and operator skills in challenging environments. HARC members have run Field Day operations from a hillside, a park and from the Butterfield Park pavilion. Radios use standard electrical power and generators. Club members and other local hams have provided communications in Herriman and in the Salt Lake Valley during emergencies such as wildfires, floods, and missing-person searches. Hams offer worldwide communications during large disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons and hurricanes.
"People might wonder why they need a group of so-called amateurs to provide communications," said Gregg McArthur, HARC president. "Cell-phone communications quickly get jammed by overuse in an emergency, and cell-tower stations have back-up power for only about four hours. Internet and phone cables get cut or damaged, and small, inexpensive "family radio service" walkie talkies have only a short range. Police and first-responders radios communicate with each other and city officials. A community should feel fortunate to have a well-trained group of volunteers that can supply communications on short notice." A database of ham-radio licensees lists over 170 in Herriman alone.
Because tens of thousands of ham-radio stations will get "on the air" for Field Day, newly licensed hams can quickly make many contacts, learn more about radio operations, and work with hams who have a lot of experience. And Field Day gives non-hams chances to learn more about radio communications and the operators their community would depend on in an emergency.
"Over the last seven years we have seen a steady increase in the number of ham licenses," said Brian Johanson, a member of the Herriman club. "The hobby offers something for almost anyone interested in electronics, emergency communications, computers, antenna construction, building equipment, communication via satellite, experimental radio, remote control, radio contests, low-power operations, and just chatting with fellow hams around the world. People can obtain a license fairly easily. They can buy a study guide or attend a class at a local radio club, and then take an exam. The test covers basic rules and regulations as well as operating procedures and some technical details." Hams can buy small, yet powerful, handheld transceivers for under $50 and easily communicate across the U.S. and Canada.