Weatherford Democrat

June 25, 2012

Field Day offers radio club a chance to shine

Brian Smith
CNHI

PARKER COUNTY — The Amateur Radio Club of Parker County spent its weekend in a way not many people would agree to: outside.

The club, which has about 60 members on its roster, is taking part with radio clubs around the world in a Field Day which began around 1 p.m. Saturday and ended at noon Sunday in a covered pavilion on the grounds of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Bethel Road, according to club president Tony Guess. While staying outside for 24 hours many not seem a great thing, it’s actually a pretty nice setup from past events.

“We’ve done these events in a pasture out the other side of Highway 51,” Guess said with a smile. “It’s really a lot of fun.”

What club members were glad to see was a lack of thunderstorms and rain in the forecast. For a number of years, adverse weather marred the event. Clubs are competing in a contest with points given based on whether the club is working on emergency power, how many are taking part and other criteria. Guess said the club is using just one generator and will have about three stations up for about 12 operators. Setup for the event began at 9 a.m. Saturday and lasted more than three hours. Some minor details were being worked out even after the official 1 p.m. start time.

To ward off the heat, big fans with misters owned by the Parker County Office of Emergency Management were available. Operators will work in four-hour shifts and food will be ordered in. The Field Day allows the club and county officials to ensure that equipment is working properly in case of emergency. Some county officials regularly come by the event and have themselves placed on the radio.

Guess said the club is grateful to the church for the use of its pavilion; it’s not surprising as many Mormon churches have amateur radio clubs within the church itself. Members encourage the public to come on by, see what the club is all about and have a chance to be put on the radio. They consider it all public awareness of what the club can and does do.

“In the first 72 hours of a disaster, amateur radio is really the only form of communication we’re going to have,” Guess said.  “People need to know this and how they’re going to be able to communicate with others.”

For more information on the club, visit www.w5pc.org.