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Local Ham Radio Operators Participate 

in National Field Day Competition

Ham radio operators from Aroostook Amateur Radio Association man their mobile emergency command post at the UMPI Soccer field during last weekend’s national Field Day competition. Dave Berry, KB1EBE (foreground) is operating on the 40 meter band, logging nationwide radio contacts. 

photo/David Deschesne, KB1EBG


By: David Deschesne, KB1EBG
Fort Fairfield Journal, June 27, 2012, p. 1

PRESQUE ISLE—Approximately forty local amateur radio operators (a/k/a “Hams”) from the Aroostook Amateur Radio Association (AARA) participated in the national Field Day competition at the UMPI soccer field last weekend.

During Field Day, amateur radio clubs across the United States attempt to make as many contacts with each other’s stations as they can within a 24-hour period, in order to accrue points in the non-profit competition.

Visitors to the event in Presque Isle were Ted Shapiro, from WAGM-TV and Phil Bosse, from Senator Susan Collins’ office.

Amateur radio goes back to the turn of the twentieth century, being the first wireless world-wide communications. Initially employed in World War I as a novel communication system, it developed into a hobby enjoyed by millions of people and an invaluable asset when traditional forms of communications are disrupted. Over the years amateur radio manufacturers have kept up with technology by developing electronics to provide world-wide communication via satellite, moon bounce, and digital transmission of fax, text, photos and slow scan television. Systems are also available to provide internet access via radio at remote locations.

As with all locations across the country during the competition, The Field Day competitors in Presque Isle powered their rigs with alternate power at the AARA’s mobile emergency command post. This exercise gives Ham operators the opportunity to test their gear in emergency situations in order to help them be prepared to assist local law enforcement and first responders in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.

“Ham radio is a great hobby for the electronic enthusiast,” said AARA club president, Ivan Shapiro, KB1STH. “Some find it fascinating to be able to hook up a radio using just a 12 volt car battery and a length of standard household wiring for an antenna and be able to communicate with someone across the country or on the other side of the earth with a minimal amount of power.”

Most Ham radio equipment operates at less than 100 watts of power with reliable communications—under the right conditions—to many points on the globe. Nearly all Ham radio gear operates on 12 volts, making it ideal for emergency communications.

“While cell phone technology and wireless internet are nice, those fragile systems are usually the first to go down in a hurricane or tornado,” said Shapiro.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the majority of communications into or out of the affected area was with Ham radio, with an effective operating range that is much greater than the local communications systems employed by police, fire and rescue personnel.

The AARA communicated in the Field Day competition using Morse Code, Voice and PSK-31 (digital texting via computer) modes to establish their contacts.

While the AARA does meet once a month at the Emergency Operation Center in Caribou, Shapiro says everyone looks forward to the annual Field Day. “It is good to have an opportunity like Field Day to hone our skills, test our equipment and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow Hams during this friendly competition.”

The AARA also assists local Boy and Girl Scout troops with their communications badges, provides communication checkpoints at the dog sled races in Fort Kent, and provided an educational display at the Francis Malcolm Institute’s Open House last year.

For more information on Ham radio, go to  or e-mail: 



Above photo:  Sam Barrett, W5KF, uses a computer and portable 100 watt amateur radio rig during Field Day at UMPI to communicate using digital text messaging without the aid of cell phone or internet.

photo/David Deschesne, KB1EBG



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