Skyview Radio Society has 'field day' making new ham radio friends
The Skyview Radio Society “hams” could have repurposed Bruce Springsteen's “Radio Nowhere” as the theme song for their weekend Field Day event.
As the amateur radio operators tried to contact their peers across North America on Saturday and Sunday, they continuously sent the message “CQ Field Day,” or “calling all Field Day participants.” It was the equivalent of Springsteen's refrain, “Is there anybody alive out there?”
Luckily for the Upper Burrell club members, there were plenty of people out there — with three hours to go in the two-day event, they had made about 1,400 contacts with fellow hams in the United States and Canada.
“It is the most popular operating event of the year,” said Bob Bastone of East Deer.
The American Radio Relay League sponsors the event, which encourages as many amateur radio operators as possible to get on the air and practice their skills. The organization estimates 35,000 hams participate.
Bastone and Dan Rabinovitz of Murrysville, another Skyview member, said hams also are encouraged to use temporary radio setups that help mimic emergency situations. When cellular and other forms of communication fail, amateur radios still can work and have been used in disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency's Auxiliary Communications Service participated in the event in Harrisburg and invited the public to observe their capabilities. The agency reports there are about 25,500 licensed hams in the state.
Bastone said he and other club members often man stations at events such as the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge, the Pittsburgh Marathon and the Pittsburgh Great Race. They are able to keep volunteers and medics in contact and alert to possible problems or injuries.
Skyview members worked a variety of radio setups for Field Day. Some used traditional voice radios; some used Morse code; and others ran their radio through a computer and communicated digitally.
Depending on the time of day, atmospheric conditions and available antennas, hams can contact people throughout the world and even reach astronauts in space.
Rabinovitz said afternoon conditions often enable him to send a signal over the North Pole and connect with hams in Scandinavia and Europe.
James Johnson, 12, of Washington Township said his farthest contact from his home radio was Australia. On Sunday, he spoke to people in Canada.
James and his identical twin brother, Joe, are among Skyview's newest members. When their father, Todd Johnson, decided to get back into the hobby late last year, the boys took an interest.
“I like talking to people across the world,” James said.
All three in recent months passed the test on basic ham radio operations that allowed them to get the license required by the Federal Communications Commission to operate on the amateur radio frequencies.
Rabinovitz said Skyview administers tests for basic and more advanced radio operation licenses about every other month; the next testing day is Aug. 16.
Todd Johnson said he's impressed with how encouraging club members have been, especially with his kids.
“It's a dying hobby, and we need young people in it,” he said. “These guys really welcomed us.”
Rabinovitz, who brought his grandson, Ryan Lloyd, 11, to Field Day to expose him to amateur radios, said the hobby is a natural fit for people who like tinkering or are interested in technology.
“Look where the world is going now. Everybody has one of these,” he said, pulling a cellphone from his pocket. “Of course, for this, people pay $100 per month. I can talk to people all over the world for free on the radio.”
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Arnold fireman falls from truck
- Pittsburgh man taken for wild ride on Route 28
- Freeport High School students rise to the challenge
- Highlands extends superintendent’s contract for 3 years
- New Ken raid nets 2 suspects, $4,000 in drugs
- Allegheny Valley board approves contracts for assistants
- Entertainment attractions going strong in Pittsburgh Mills mall
- Alle-Kiski seniors attend Walk the Red Carpet event
- Boscov’s could help sustain decade-old Pittsburgh Mills
- Suspect admits to arson in Harrison
- Mia Z voices no regrets after failing to advance on NBC show