This story was originally published at 7:36 am on June 18th. It has been updated.
Members of the Newport County Radio Club will be practicing “communications resiliency” by participating in the national amateur radio Field Day exercise, June 22–23 at Glen Park, Portsmouth.
Since 1933, amateur (or “ham”) radio operators across North America have established temporary ham radio stations in public locations during Field Day to showcase the science and skill of amateur radio.
This event is scheduled from 2 pm to 10 pm on Saturday, June 22nd and from 9 am to 2 pm on Sunday, June 23rd and is open to the public.
Field Day is a showcase for how amateur radio works reliably under any conditions from almost any location to create an independent communications network. “Ham” radio functions completely independent of the Internet or cell phone infrastructure, can interface with tablets or smartphones and can be set up almost anywhere in minutes. “That’s the beauty of amateur radio during a communications outage,” says David Isgur, communications manager for the ARRL, the national association for amateur radio, which represents members across the country.”
“In today’s electronic do-it-yourself (DIY) environment, ham radio remains one of the best ways for people to learn about electronics, physics, meteorology, and many other scientific disciplines. It’s a huge asset to any community during disasters or emergencies when the standard communication infrastructure goes down,” Isgur adds.
Anyone may become a licensed amateur radio operator. There are more than 725,000 licensed hams in the United States, as young as 9 and as old as 100. And with clubs such as Newport County Radio Club — that has licensed over 150 residents in 10 years — it’s easy for anybody to get involved.
The City of Newport released the following press release on June 19th about the event;
Hurricane season began June 1st and with residents increasingly reliant on cellular and WiFi networks, Newport’s Emergency Management Team wants to find out just how prepared Newport is to withstand a widespread communications outage by asking the question: What happens when the cell towers go down?
On Saturday, June 29, 2019, members of the Newport Fire and Police Departments will be teaming up with volunteers from the Newport County Radio Club and BSA Scout Troop 3 to test the effectiveness of using a low power FRS (Family Radio Service) radio network to relay emergency notifications.
The exercise is part of the City’s ongoing emergency management training and aims to engage directly with the community to simulate what could one day become a real world scenario.
Playing a central role in the effort will be the volunteer members of the Newport County Radio Club, which since 1945 has been educating the community and training “ham” radio operators throughout Newport County.
During the exercise on June 29 from noon to 2 p.m., radio operators from the Newport County Radio Club will staff a 2-meter VHF station at Firehouse 1, where incoming transmissions from across the City will be received from a network of ham relay operators strategically positioned across the city.
Anyone interested in participating with their own handheld radios (FRS Channel 3) or boaters on VHF Channel 6, are invited to take part. Citizens will be asked to identify themselves by first name and street number before providing their location and feedback regarding the quality of their respective radio signal.
Troops from Newport’s Scout Troop 3 have already volunteered to participate in the drill, and a limited number of radios will be made available to those who would like to join in.
To learn more about the project, and to learn how you can take part, please visit the City’s website at www.CityofNewport.com/RadioReady.