|It's called "field day"
The term "HAM" is a nickname for those who participate in the hobby
called amateur radio. The origin of that term is not known to us.
The term "amateur" these days means "one who is not professional."
Doesn't know much about the subject in question.
That was not its original meaning.
"Amateur" comes to us from Latin. Ama means "you
love.". Amateurs in ancient times were people who loved a subject so much
that they often became the top experts in that field.
Every year in June, HAMs generate disaster. Like
some militia, they head out into the boondocks, set up emergency radio
stations and practice for the next cataclysmic natural or man-made event.
If you pay attention to such things, you will find that
the last communications which come out of any stressed area are amateur
Most people think cell phones have taken over that job, but it's not entirely
true. Direct satellite access communications do indeed work under
some of the worst conditions, but cell phones using retransmit links (what
HAMs call "repeaters") are usually out of service during certain kinds
of disasters, like widespread fire and big windstorms. The relay
station chain often goes down. And, in the case of atmospheric nuclear
attack, what is known as the "EMR pulse" destroys most high-tech electronic
gadgets. Vacuum tube radios -- still in the closets of many amateur
radio operators -- are usually not affected by this sort of thing.
HAMs, on field day, train for disaster work. They
set up battery and generator powered radio stations out in the sticks and
practice the techniques of mass message traffic handling.
That is why the government sets aside certain portions
of the radio spectrum for these people. Floods, fires, windstorms,
blizzards or nuclear attack, these people provide a local, regional and
national emergency communications backup system that doesn't cost the taxpayer
a dime. They do it because they love to do it. They are amateurs
in the original meaning of the term.
On a recent June day, a small group of HAMs from the Portland area
assembled at the home of the Kruse family, high above Henry Hagg Lake,
south of Forest Grove. They brought in their trailers and their tents
and their batteries and their radio gear, put up all sorts of small and
large, metal tube and wire antennas, and communicated with other radio
amateur groups. They talked locally on the VHF bands, to satellites
on the UHF bands, and to a wide chunk of America and beyond on the HF bands.
(Very High Frequency, Ultra High Frequency,
High Frequency) They taught each other the tricks of the trade, had
a fine time, and built a base of working interactive ability that God forbid
we ever have to use again.
But if we do, they will be there.
Learn how to become a Ham by clicking
© 2002 Oregon Magazine Text by KE7DC.
Photos suppled by