Broadcasting live from Los Alamos

-A A +A
By Kirsten Laskey

Amateur radio operators will be broadcasting across the country and throughout the world this weekend.

About 20 operators from Los Alamos Amateur Radio Club will be setting up stations, hooking up generators and transmitting their voices on radio waves from North Mesa Picnic Grounds to hone and sharpen their skills.

In 24 hours, the operators will attempt to make as many contacts as possible.

There will be high frequency radios, two transmitter operators on high frequency rounds and a Get on the Air (GOTA) station, which will be open to new radio amateurs to try out.

Even people without a license will be able to try to make contact with another radio operator. While the person operating the radio is required to have license, the person making the connection does not.

The field day will begin at noon Saturday and end at noon Sunday. To keep operators going, there will be a potluck dinner at 6 p.m. Saturday and sourdough pancakes will be served at 7 a.m. Sunday.

The National Association for Amateur Radio sponsors the annual event.

The whole purpose behind it, said Communication Officer for the Los Alamos Amateur Radio Club Bill Boedeker, is to practice setting up for an emergency.

“We practice setting up portable antennas, make sure generators operate, make sure the station is set up in a short amount of time,” he said.

It’s important to be up on these skills because in the event of an emergency, quite often the telephone services for cell phone and landlines goes away, Boedeker said. He added telephones can get so overloaded they can not handle the traffic.

He recalled when the tornadoes raged through Clovis, the telephone lines were knocked down, so the only communication with the state emergency center was through radio, and some amateur radio operators administered this communication.

The public is invited to come out and see the operators in action. “We like to show off our capabilities ee let people know what we can do,” Boedeker said.

The radio operators are referred to as amateurs because they are not paid for their services. All their time and equipment is volunteered, he explained.

An exam must be taken to be issued a license to become an operator. The next exam will be issued July 8.

The local radio club has operated more than 50 years. It currently has 50 dues-paying members. For more information, call Boedeker at 662-4220.