BOISE, Idaho — Ham radio operators from the City of Boise Auxiliary Communications Service in Boise participated in a national amateur radio exercise. Which started from 12:00 noon on Saturday until 2:00 PM on Sunday, June 27 – 28. The event is ARRL Field Day, an annual amateur radio activity organized since 1933 by ARRL, the national association for amateur radio in the United States.
Hams from across North America ordinarily participate in Field Day by establishing temporary ham radio stations in public locations to demonstrate their skill and service. Their use of radio signals, which reach beyond borders, bring people together while providing essential communication in the service of communities. Field Day highlights ham radio’s ability to work reliably under any conditions from almost any location and create an independent, wireless communications network.
The City of Boise maintains an active Amateur Radio station as part of Disaster Preparedness planning, Continuity of Operations (COOP) and also to ensure that radio operation skills are maintained in the event of an emergency.
Due to the pandemic, this year’s event will be markedly different from years past. Continuing public health restrictions and social distancing practices will limit group gatherings for Field Day. Instead, hams from Southwest Idaho will use the radio stations set up in their homes or taken to their backyards and other locations to operate individually. Many hams have portable radio communication capability that includes alternative energy sources such as generators, solar panels, and batteries to power their equipment.
This year's event is also noteworthy given the arrival of a rather active early hurricane season. “Hams have a long history of serving our communities when storms or other disasters damage critical communication infrastructure, including cell towers,” said Buddy Jacob, ham radio operator and City of Boise Radio Communications Manager – call sign K7HBJ. “Ham radio functions completely independently of the internet and phone systems and a station can be set up almost anywhere in minutes. Hams can quickly raise a wire antenna in a tree or on a mast, connect it to a radio and power source, and communicate effectively with others,” Buddy Jacob added.
During Field Day 2019, more than 36,000 hams participated from thousands of locations across North America. According to ARRL, there are more than 750,000 amateur radio licensees in the US, and an estimated 3 million worldwide. “Throughout COVID-19, hams around the world have continued to be on the air practicing their skills, in part as a way to help overcome social isolation and online fatigue,” said ARRL spokesperson Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R.