Sunday, July 14, 2024

Calling to say hello on Field Day

Staff Writer | June 14, 2024 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — The Bonner County Amateur Radio Club and Bonner County Amateur Radio Emergency Service will be hosting ARRL Amateur Radio Field Day 2024 the fourth full weekend in June.

Ham radio is a popular hobby and is used around the world to assist with emergencies and non-emergencies. Radios are used to coordinate and run events such as concerts, bike races, marathons and parades.

Completely free and open to the public, Field Day is the single-most popular amateur radio operating event of the year in the U.S. and Canada, said Bonner County ARES emergency coordinator Mark Earls. Around 35,000 radio amateurs, as well as their friends and family, head out into the field to make as many contacts as they can in a 24-hour period.

“We essentially take wooded areas, turn them into independent portable communications centers with world-wide communications capabilities for the weekend, and then turn them back into wooded areas on Sunday afternoon,” Earls said. “It’s an amazing transformation.”

The community is invited to stop by the event Saturday and get a chance to communicate with participants from around the world. Earls said everyone is welcome and attendees do not have to be a member of an amateur radio club to participate.

“You do not even have to be a licensed ham,” he said. “In fact, we especially welcome people who aren't licensed, hams licensed since the last Field Day, and licensed hams who haven't been on HF recently.”

Last year, Earls said he had the pleasure of helping get a young man on the air who was able to make contact with his grandmother in another station who was participating in Field Day with her club.

“This is a great opportunity to check out what ham radio is all about, talk with some experienced operators and even help with getting some contacts with other hams around the country,” he said.”

No prior experience with ham radios is necessary and a short lesson will be provided to newcomers.

“Each station has a captain, in charge of that station's operations, and we generally have a radio operator and a logger — using a laptop computer — at each station, so after observing a while, you can begin doing logging,” Earls added. “Simple — just typing into the laptop. Then, if you like, after participating up close, you can slide into the operator’s chair and make contacts yourself.”

Field Day will be held at the House of the Lord Church at 36254 Highway 41 in Oldtown from noon to 4 p.m.

“We look forward to sharing our hobby with you,” Earls said.

For more information, contact Earls by phone at  208-610-6510 or email him at