By Charly SHELTON
Last weekend, the Crescenta Valley Radio Club met at Verdugo Park in Glendale to take part in the annual Field Day competition. For 24 hours, a team of approximately 20 volunteers was on ham radios making contacts around the country. Starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday and going until 11 a.m. on Sunday, the team made over 200 contacts with other people on ham radios in all 50 states, Canada and Mexico.
The team set up a solar generator that tracks the sun as it moves across the sky and several different antennae and a station with radios. They called out across the radio waves for anyone who could hear them to exchange their call sign and location information before moving on to the next contact. Mike Lichtman, president of the CVRC, said the event was a success and he is very happy that everyone came out.
“Everything [as far as how the event was run] was great. Propagation, which is the ability of radio waves to travel in the ionosphere, to bounce off it and travel around the earth, propagation was not good this year,” Lichtman said. “For the last month or so it has been sort of bad. That has to do with the number of sunspots and the various radiation from the sun which charges our ionosphere and makes it reflective or not. [The poor conditions] also cause a lot of noise, a lot of thunderstorms in the area. As a matter of fact, [Tuesday] there were thunderstorms all over from Nevada to Nebraska and, when lightning strikes, it [creates] static. We can hear it on the radio even half a continent away. So [it was] not quite as good this year as in the past because of that.”
Despite the poor propagation, the team made a total of 205 voice contacts, called phone contacts, and six were made digitally which sent a digital signal over the air using the PSK 31 transmitter.
“Scores were a little down, and everybody that we talked to was saying that the propagation was a little bad,” Lichtman said. “A lot of times we could hear people but they couldn’t hear us because the propagation was not real good. But we had a lot of fun, a lot of people stopped by and were interested in what we were doing there.”
Though this was a good-natured competition for ham radio enthusiasts, Field Day also functions as an emergency disaster training and practice drill. In the event of a disaster, resulting in no power and no phone service, one of the only things that would still be running are ham radios. Many of the CVRC members are also members of the Glendale Emergency Auxiliary Radio Service – GEARS – that coordinates with the city of Glendale to restore communications during a power loss or disaster event. Not only was it an enjoyable day for the ham operators to get out and practice together in the park, it also served as an annual refresher to ensure smooth operation when it’s needed most.
“It is a rehearsal for a disaster emergency. We can operate off the grid, we can set up and operate radio stations,” Lichtman said.
For more information on CVRC, visit cvrc.club and for information on GEARS, visit gearsglendale.org.