Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Panama City ARC Field Day 2017

The Panama City ARC had an outstanding Field Day sponsored by the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) at the Bay County Emergency Operations Center in Southport, Florida. They operated using callsign W4B, and their category was 2F. 2F means two transmitters from an Emergency Operations Center. The Panama City Club coordinates with the Bay County Emergency Communications Director Mr. Joby Smith and Gulf Coast State College to use the facilities.

The hams setup up on Saturday Morning June 24th. The antennas included a directional Hex Beam mounted on a portable tower and many end-fed wire antennas. Operations began at 1 PM CDT and lasted 24 hours. The operating modes included CW (Morse Code), SSB (Voice) and PSK31 (Digital). W4B communicated with hundreds of other Field Day stations across North America.

This annual exercise demonstrates a capability of amateur radio to support communications if the normal infrastructure is unavailable due to a natural disaster. Messages were passed from the EOC by radio to the National Traffic System (NTS). The emergency power system at the EOC was tested. Representatives from the Red Cross visited the site. The local television station WJHG did a report on the evening news.

Ham radio is also a technical hobby that hams enjoy. They are able to engineer their own stations for use at home, portable or mobile in vehicles. There are on-the-air amateur radio activities to enjoy throughout the year. Some hams build their own equipment and design their antenna systems. If you may be interested in amateur radio visit the club at 130 N. Church Ave in Panama City. There are weekly meetings at 7 PM. Transmitting on amateur frequencies requires a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The license tests are administered each third Wednesday of the month by volunteers at the Panama City Club.