BERRYVILLE — The Shenandoah Valley Amateur Radio Club will show off their calling skills at the American Radio Relay League field day this weekend.
“It puts amateur radio in the public eye and shows what our capabilities are,” said Tom Sherwood, president of Field Day. “With that, there’s the fact that it’s really, really fun.”
Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, is a hobby that allows people to talk to people around the world without using the internet or telephone.
The American Radio Relay League Field Days will take place across the country this weekend. The local club drill begins at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Ruritan Pavilion at the Clarke County Ruritan Fairgrounds at 890 West Main St. in Berryville. It will operate for 24 hours at 2 p.m. Sunday. Participants have the opportunity to take breaks during the event.
“I’m one of those who will go as much as possible 24 hours a day,” Sherwood said.
The goal is to contact as many people as possible during the 24 hour period using amateur radio equipment. Each individual or team will set up a portable station on the fairgrounds that will operate on a backup power source. They then begin to reach out to other stations.
According to www.shenvalarc.org, the objective of the event is to demonstrate the ability of the amateur radio community to communicate independently of municipal or commercial infrastructure, including commercial electrical and telephone networks that would likely be inoperative in the event of an emergency. .
“The way I like to say it is that this is an emergency preparedness exercise run without an emergency scenario,” Sherwood said. “It’s run like a competition…It’s meant to hone our skills and communicate in less than optimal conditions.”
On average, the local field day sees around 20 attendees. The event is open to the public to observe and participate.
“Anyone who wants to see what it’s all about and see what we’re capable of can come along, especially those who want to become a ham operator,” Sherwood said.
Members of the Shenandoah Valley Amateur Radio Club will have an information booth set up to answer questions about amateur radio.
The American Radio Relay League Field Day was started in 1933. The local club has participated in the event since its inception in 1948.
Sherwood has made amateur radio a hobby since 1973. He joined the Shenandoah Valley Amateur Radio Club in 2007, shortly after moving to the area. The club has about 75 members.
“It’s a great club,” Sherwood said. “One of the best radio clubs I’ve been to.”
Amateur radio is not as popular as it used to be. Sherwood and other club members would like to see more young people take up the hobby.
“The amateur radio population is aging,” he said. “I love it when we have kids getting permits.”
The club meets at 7:30 p.m. on the first and third Fridays of the month at its clubhouse at 2921 Grace Street in Winchester.
For more information about the club, visit www.shenvalarc.org.
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