06/25/11 — Ham radio field day puts Wayne practice skills Saturday, today

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Ham radio field day puts Wayne practice skills Saturday, today

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 25, 2011 11:44 PM

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Pete Wene, left, and Bryan Griswald of the Wayne County Amateur Radio Association, take part in association's annual field day that continues today.

Ham radio operators, long known for their ability to operate in times of disaster and emergencies that cripple other forms of communications, were operating equipment ranging from satellite technology to Morse Code in the wooded area in front of Greenwood School over the weekend.

There was no emergency this time, but members of the Wayne County Amateur Radio Association were checking to make sure they would be ready if ever called on.

"Field Day is a American Radio Relay League sponsored event in the United Stated and Canada where we test our skills and abilities to operate under adverse conditions," said club president Pete Wene. "We don't rely on commercial power. We don't rely on fixed antennas. We go to the field. We set up tents. We set up our radios and set up generators. We operate under less-than-optimal conditions. It is just a yearly test.

"When nothing else works with respect to radios or telephones or anything CW (constant wave or Morse Code) is probably s the one form of communication that will always get through mostly worldwide."

The Field Day got under way Saturday at 2 p.m. and was to end at 2 p.m. Sunday.

"I have operated Field Days just about every year since I have become a licensed amateur," said Wene, who was first licensed about 1982 when he was stationed with the Air Force in Korea. "I have been associated with this club in Wayne County since I married my wife in '84. I joined the club when we moved back here and became president shortly thereafter."

Ham radio operators are not used as much to pass along personal and emergency traffic because of cell phones, texting, the Internet and computers, Wene said. However, they remain a vital communication tool, he said.

"It is still viable and it is a good ,wholesome hobby," he said.

People can spend just a couple hundred dollars on used equipment and can make antennas for just a few dollars, he said.

Gerald Bennett, 58, of Goldsboro who got his license in late 2005, said he got into the hobby late.

"I got medically disabled and I needed something to keep my mind occupied and something that wasn't real strenuous that I could do because I have back trouble and heat trouble," he said. "It is just a fun hobby and you meet people from all walks of life. You see most anybody in the hobby.

"I have been doing Field Day every since I got my ticket (license) in '05. I have people I talk with on a regular basis around Raleigh and Goldsboro and Wilson and Rocky Mount. I don't talk to anybody overseas on a regular basis."

For him the biggest attraction is just having someone to talk to "pretty much anywhere I want to, anytime of the day. You can find somebody on the radio 24/7."

For more information about the club and meetings visit the website at www.k4cyp. com.