Local ham radio group holds Field Day
By Paul Gooch
LIVERMORE - Despite the Internet, cell phones, email, and modern communications, every year many regions of Maine and around the country find themselves in the dark. Tornadoes, fires, storms, ice, and even the occasional cutting of fiber-optic cables leave people without the means to communicate. In these cases, the one consistent service that has never failed has been Amateur Radio. These radio operators, often called “hams” provide backup communications for everything from the American Red Cross to FEMA and even for the International Space Station.
On the weekend of June 23-24, hams across the USA held "Field Day" sponsored by the American Radio Relay League, the national association for amateur radio. Using emergency power supplies, ham operators set up emergency stations in parks, shopping malls, schools, and backyards around the country. Their slogan, "When All Else Fails, Ham Radio Works” is more than just words to the hams as they prove they can send messages in many forms without the use of phone systems, Internet, or any other infrastructure that can be compromised in a crisis. More than 35,000 amateur radio operators across the country participated in last year's event.
Locally, The Bass Hill Repeater Group (BHRG), with support from the Franklin County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) and Franklin County Emergency Management Agency, set up their Field Day station at Bill Mann’s camp on Round Pond in Livermore. Hams Radio operators from Farmington, Wilton, Monmouth, and Winthrop joined with thousands of other Amateur Radio operators showing their emergency capabilities this past weekend. BHRG used a gasoline generator and wire antennas strung in the trees to communicate with Morse code and voice. The group also made contacts using PSK 31, a digital mode requiring the radio equipment to be connected to a computer.
Participating in the BHRG effort were Bill and Michelle Mann, Randy & Ruth Gauvin, Tom Marshall, George Szadis, and Paul Gooch. Tom Knight assisted with set-up. Visiting the Field Day site were State Rep. Russell Black, State Senator Tom Saviello, and Franklin County EMA Director Tim Hardy. Director Hardy is also a licensed Ham radio operator and a member of the county ARES team.