Amateur Radio operators often called “hams” will be participating in an event called “Winter Field Day”, sponsored by the Winter Field Day Association (WFDA), which will take place over the January 26‐27 weekend, at the Desert National Wildlife Refuge (north of Las Vegas). (Photo courtesy of Tim Duerson, W9AYK)
This annual event’s purpose is to encourage emergency operating preparedness in a winter weather environment. For Las Vegas hams, the desert environment is unpredictable and will be a good test of equipment as well as the human spirit. The Desert National Wildlife Refuge is over 1.3 million acres encompassing six major mountain ranges and seven distinct life zones and serves as an excellent base of operations for experiencing a typical Nevada desert winter environment…one without food, shelter or other resources.
Local ham radio operators will set up various radio stations and respective antennas in the desert. A tent will be set up to minimize the elements and provide some shelter. Radio operators will also be using a customized mobile communications platform that will host up to four radio stations/operators provided by WA3PAD, Robert Nelson (picture above). Communications will be with amateur radio operators around the world on various high frequency (HF) bands as well as on Ultra High Frequency (UHF) and Very High Frequency (VHF) and satellite. The event will last for 24 hours.
For over 100 years, ham radio has allowed people from all walks of life to experiment with electronics and communications techniques, as well as provide a free public service to their communities during a disaster, all without needing a cell phone or the Internet. An event such as the Winter Field Day demonstrates ham radio’s ability to work reliably under any conditions from almost any location and create an independent communications network.
Anyone may become a licensed Amateur Radio operator. There are over 754,000 licensed hams in the United States, as young as 5 and as old as 100. For more information on ham radio, visit http://www.arrl.org/licensing-education-training.