June 28—The folks behind the Central Kentucky Amateur Radio Society (CKARS) had an all-nighter on Saturday.
The group took part in the National Amateur Radio Field Day exercise — making contact with approximately 2,440 other radio users around the world. CKARS is just one of many clubs that make up the National Amateur Radio Association.
Amateur radio, or amateur radio as its users call it, is a passion for the people at CKARS.
According to Terry Holman, served as president of Field Day on Saturday, as the band uses its call sign “AJ4A” (And Justice For All) throughout Field Day.
“This is a national event for amateur radio in North America and the United States in particular. We’re going to have operators from across the country, and even around the world, who will want to participate; try to make as many contacts as possible over a 24-hour period,” Holman explained of the day’s activities.
Camp Catalpa was overrun with wires and other radio equipment from 2 p.m. Saturday until 2 p.m. the following day. Wire antennas were placed in the trees and tents were erected throughout the campground. In total, Holman said the group set up about six on-air stations to connect with other radio users.
Field Day functions as a practice for participating amateur radio clubs as a test to see how they would perform in an emergency situation. Clubs are rated with a point system for the event. Points are awarded based on criteria such as the number of contacts made, educational activities, and any visits from government officials or emergency service agencies.
Over the weekend, CKARS made thousands of contacts through various means of radio communication.
According to figures from CKARS, 1,075 contacts were made via single sideband, 1,123 via Morse code and 242 via digital radio. The current tally is approximate in nature, as full results will not be available until November or December of this year.
They also crossed international borders.
According to the organizers, CKARS has made contact with other radio users in Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.
CKARS finished first in their class in Kentucky for over a decade and first in the United States overall in the Field Day event of 2021. While Field Day is one of their biggest events, CKARS manages to stay quite busy throughout the year.
“We fix and maintain repeaters. We run a lot of contests. A lot of us chase after paperwork,” Holman said. “There are so many opportunities in amateur radio to do so many different things. We all do different things, but we also share a lot of common interests.”
According to the folks at CKARS, there are more than 775,000 amateur radio operators in the United States, 10,000 of whom call Kentucky their home. The group meets the third Thursday of the month at the Joint Information Center at 558 South Keeneland Drive. Holman encouraged anyone interested in radio to come to CKARS meetings.