Albemarle Amateur Radio Club Hosts Field Day Event
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Ham radio operators spent the last 24 hours practicing to make sure communication is reliable even if the area is facing a crisis. Members in the Albemarle Amateur Radio Club (AARC) have been going strong since 2 p.m. on Saturday as part of National Field Day.
Operators test different types of communication that might happen in a natural disaster or other emergencies.
"Ham radio provides a service that many people don't understand or even are aware of,” said Bob Romanko, committee chairman.
Behind the Earlysville Volunteer Fire Station is a tent with dozens of ham radio operators preparing to save lives.
"Although it's a fun hobby it's very important because we promote and provide emergency communications,” said Ed Berkowitz, the president of AARC.
Underneath the tent, stations set up with multiple different types of communication modes.
"There are a lot of different modes and what I mean by code, is Morse code,” said Romanko. "What we call phone which is actually voice communications, but another one that is growing and is really fascinating is digital communications."
Those modes are essential for alerting authorities if other communication systems fail, and it's even happened in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area.
“About four years ago here in the Charlottesville area a fiber optic cable was cut during construction on the Rio Road area and we provided emergency communications,” said Berkowitz.
Ham radios have a specific set of frequencies to provide communication around the world.
“The cellular radio frequencies are one set of frequencies, we operate on another and by doing that we can bounce our signal off the atmosphere,” said Romanko.
Many people often question the use of these radios, but if all else fails, they won't.
"One question I’m often asked is why is ham radio still relevant in today's environment of cell phones and social media, and the answer is despite all these new technology ham radios are often used,” said Berkowitz.
The Albemarle Amateur Radio Club hosts that event every year in June, but they are always welcoming more people if they would like to learn about it or get licensed.