Boone County ham radio enthusiasts will join operators from across the country in an event to promote radio skills beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday through noon Sunday.
Radio amateurs from the Central Missouri Radio Association will gather at Rock Bridge State Park for ARRL Field Day, an annual event hosted by the National Association for Amateur Radio.
Event attendees will use their radios, often called amateur radios, to try to contact as many other operators around the world as possible, said Boone County assistant emergency coordinator Chris Swisher. Amateur radios are assigned 26 of their own bands, or groups of frequencies, along the radio dial.
Swisher said the event isn’t quite a competition, but participants will earn points based on how many frequencies they can contact. Points can also be earned in other ways, such as inviting a chosen one or bouncing a signal off the moon, Swisher said.
The radios will run on generator power, Swisher said. This mimics an emergency situation like a natural disaster, where amateur radios are particularly useful because they can work when phone and internet lines are down and can be set up in minutes.
“It’s an exercise for us to go out and use those skills, hone our gear, make sure everything works and really get things that we can practice in a non-emergency situation that we would actually apply in a emergency,” Swisher said.
People who want to participate can go to Rock Bridge State Park, receive a radio and tune in through a “live” station operated by a licensed operator, Swisher said. The home base for the event will be at the Billy Gilbert Memorial Shelter off Missouri 163.
Swisher said ham radio is “really a varied hobby” that can connect enthusiasts to far-flung places.
“Some people like emergency communications, and some people just like to sit and chat with people they’ve never met before in a faraway land,” Swisher said. “It allows you that kind of landscape where people can learn a new skill and communicate with people who maybe don’t communicate in a standard way.”