The Owensboro Amateur Radio Club is preparing to host its annual Ham Radio Field Day next weekend.

The event is an opportunity for enthusiasts of ham radios to spend a day around their radios and meet other like-minded people.

Jeff Horton, president of OARC, said his love of radio began, like many other radio enthusiasts, in his childhood.

"As a kid, I played with CB radios," Horton said. "That's where a lot of us get our start."

In 2012, Horton said he attended a class on ham radio operation. Horton said through this class he was awarded a technician license. One year later, he received his general license.

Horton said that many of the local club members are also members of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service.

Horton said that ARES provides communications services when regular communications are unavailable, especially during severe weather events like flooding and tornadoes.

"(ARES) is the biggest part of the club to me," Horton said. "As ARES members, we are training ourselves and readying our equipment for when the next disaster comes through."

Horton also said that one of the benefits of ham radio is that their design makes them independent from modern communications systems, such as cellular networks.

"Cellphones are wonderful devices, until they break," Horton said. "When it does break, we go back to literally 1970s, 1950s technology. It still works."

One of the main users of ham radio operators in the United States is the American Red Cross. Horton said that the Red Cross utilizes amateur radio operators to send messages in and out of disaster areas.

Horton said several of the members of OARC are also involved in the Red Cross. When hurricanes struck Puerto Rico in 2017, Horton said several OARC members went to the disaster area to set up communications services.

"You get a radio, you get a battery, you get an antenna, you're on the air," he said.

In accordance with Federal Communications Commission rules, ham radio operators cannot be paid for their services, Horton said.

"Everything we do is completely, 100% volunteer," Horton said.

Horton said the Field Day will take place from noon Saturday to noon Sunday, June 23.

Horton said that at this year's Field Day event, participants will set up in pioneer Village at Yellow Creek Park.

Over the weekend, Horton said the participants will compete against their fellow radio operators.

"If you're interested in amateur radio, by all means come by," Horton said. "There'll be more than enough people there to answer any questions you have."

OARC meets on the third Tuesday of every month at the Owensboro Red Cross. OARC has about 25 members, and dues are $20 per year.

Jack Dobbs, 270-691-7360, jdobbs@messenger-inquirer.com

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