Members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine are set to participate in the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise on June 27-28 at Wassamki Springs Campground, 56 Saco Street, Scarborough.
Because of the pandemic, as recent as a month ago, club leadership was unsure if Field Day would even take place this year. They were finding it difficult to find a venue, but with the easing of restrictions on lodging facilities and public places, at the beginning of the month, the possibility to return to Wassamki Springs Campground became more promising. “When we reached out to the Hillock Family, who own the campground, they were glad to have us back, and that’s pretty special because this will be our tenth year doing Field Day at the campground,” said Tim Watson, WSSM President.
This year’s event will be of a much smaller scale than in years past. “We’ll be operating one less full-time station, and use a strict operator schedule to reduce the number of people present at the same time. Similarly, some of the social events, such as our Saturday night cookout and Sunday morning breakfast, won’t take place, and our educational activity will be done via live stream, instead of in-person” Watson explained.
“Field Day is part emergency communications exercise, and part competition, where we accumulate points and test our operating skills against other clubs and individuals around the U.S. and Canada,” added Vice President, Brad Brown, Jr., of North Waterboro, ME.
During the event, participants will try to earn points by meeting specific goals as outlined by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). Some of these include handling and delivering messages, hosting educational activities, and making contacts with other amateurs through various methods, such as voice, telegraphy, satellites, and digital technology.
“This is a fun event that gives us an opportunity to share our passion with the community and to improve our operating skills, all while getting everyone out there and on the air,” says Brown.
Field Day, which has taken place annually since 1933, is designed to test radio operators’ ability to quickly setup and operate portable stations in emergency conditions.
“The entire operation will exclusively use emergency power sources like batteries, or solar energy, in order to simulate how things would be during a catastrophic event,” added Watson. “The public should be aware that in the event of an emergency, we’re ready to assist in any way that we can. While people may have the impression that cell phones and other technologies are good enough, we stand by as a trained pool of experienced radio operators to provide the vital communication services others may not. Hams have provided emergency communications during hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, blackouts, and other disasters, where more complex and fragile communications systems, such as cell networks, have failed or become overloaded.”
The Wireless Society of Southern Maine’s Emergency Communications Team provides communications support to the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency and members also support the National Weather Service’s SKYWARN operations in Gray, ME.
“Since 2014, the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, using call sign WS1SM, has recorded the highest Field Day score in Maine and hopes to do well again this year, despite the limited operation,” says Watson. “The public is welcome to attend the event and if anyone is interested in learning more about the hobby, we’ll be glad to help.”
There are over 725,000 licensed hams in the United States and anyone can become a licensed amateur radio operator. The Wireless Society of Southern Maine is ready to help newcomers get involved and licensed right here in Scarborough. For more information about Field Day, and amateur radio in general, please visit: