Pictured are some of the early ham radio operators participating in the 1965 Field Day exercise at Dr. Paul Terrell’s property south of Hillsboro.
Pictured are some of the early ham radio operators participating in the 1965 Field Day exercise at Dr. Paul Terrell’s property south of Hillsboro.
Courtesy of John Levo
Highland Amateur Radio Association

Those writing the history of amateur radio will note “hams” have been transmitting from “the field” since radio experimentation began in the 1800s. In 1933, the national amateur radio organization, the American Radio Relay League, formally organized an event to teach amateurs how to rapidly deploy communications equipment, to set up temporary radio stations and provide communications in the event of an emergency or natural disaster when normal means of communications are either lost or overloaded.

During these exercises, hams operate from tents or other structures in public parks, farm fields or local governmental emergency operation centers. Normally, these locations are off the grid. Therefore, hams turn to generators, batteries and solar to power their equipment.

Although it’s not known if any early Highland County amateurs participated in those early Field Day exercises, it is known area hams started participating in the annual end of June event in the late 1950s when a group amateurs from Hillsboro High School journeyed to Baldwin Hill near Carmel to participate in the event.

In the early 1960s, a group called the Rocky Fork Emergency Net operated for several years from Peach Mountain in Adams County. Since those days, local hams have held these training exercises at various locations around the county including Fisherman’s Wharf, the County Fairgrounds, Liberty Park and at a location south of Hillsboro near WSRW.

Although to some this might have the appearance of a reason to “play radio,” it has a very serious purpose. Putting aside the fun and social aspects of the event, training amateurs on how to select the best site from where to establish radio communications, the types of equipment and antennas to use and how to communicate effectively with government and social agency officials remain of integral importance during an emergency when hams are requested to establish or backup communications or provide radio support at shelters, hospitals or operation centers.

Additionally, Field Day gives amateurs the opportunity to use equipment, antennas and modes of operation they may not have available at their own home stations. Plus it also gives hams the chance to meet face-to-face with those they talk to over the air.

Members and their families will enjoy the club’s traditional Field Day picnic on Saturday evening.

On Friday evening, June 24, members of the Highland Amateur Radio Association (HARA) will journey to the 2022 Field Day site near New Vienna to start preparing for the event’s official start at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 25. Then they will return to the site late Saturday morning to actually start setting up the tents, stations and antennas.

At 2 p.m., the generator will be fired up and for the next 24 hours, contacts will be made with the hundreds of similar operations from throughout North America. Contacts will be made using voice, CW (Morse Code) and digital transmissions. An attempt to make contact with the International Space Station is also anticipated.

Anyone interested seeing the operation or learning more about amateur radio is invited to visit the Field Day site anytime during the June 24-25 weekend. The event takes place at the Levo Family Century Farm, 810 Levo Road, New Vienna. It is located near the Snow Hill Country Club.

The Highland Amateur Radio Association is an organization of over 140 Federal Communications Commission licensed amateur radio operators who mostly live or work in Highland County. More information about Field Day or Amateur Radio can be found at www.arrl.org. Information about the local participation can be found on the Club’s Facebook page or contacting either highlandara@gmail.com or HARA Information Officer John Levo, (937) 393-4951.