This weekend marks the Field Day for amateur radio operators all around the world, and the Southern Alberta Amateur Radio Club (SAARC) is no exception.
Beginning Saturday, June 26th, SAARC will communicate with thousands of other amateur, or “ham” radio operators around North America. The event will continue until Sunday at noon.
“Field Day is a gathering of people to set up emergency radio stations. We have thousands and thousands of people all over North America who participate in that,” said Thomas Buchanan, Vice President and Communications Director for SAARC. “Typically what you do is you set up a transmitter and an antenna, and you log all of the communications that you have with people. This year we’re setting up two stations, actually.”
The two stations will be set up at the Dungarvan Creek Bed and Breakfast, just south of Twin Butte on highway 6. The location also features a radio museum in the basement of the Bed and Breakfast, which Buchanan said will blow the minds of those who tour it.
“The radio museum is absolutely chock-a-block full of all of the old radios that you could think of. Everything from the smallest crystal set from 1910 all the way up to modern radios, and we’re not just talking about radios,” said Buchanan. “We’re talking about jukeboxes, he’s got record players, he’s got television sets, and it all works.”
While the members of SAARC will be meeting on Friday, June 25th to being set up, the event truly begins at noon on Saturday when the two stations begin transmitting and receiving communications. The event will run until noon on Sunday.
“We’re also doing a barbecue for everybody on Saturday night. We are a public event, so that means we’re not restricted in terms of the number of people. We can go up to 150 people according to AHS rules, because it is a public event, which makes it a lot better for us in that respect,” said Buchanan.
Alongside the station operation, there will be a flea market running at the same time, offering what Buchanan referred to as “all sorts of obscure junk from their shacks.” “We’re just going to have a grand time,” said Buchanan. He’s been with the club for the past seven years, though the SAARC has been meeting since 1932.
The SAARC has about 45 current members across southern Alberta, some of which have participated in real emergency radio communications, and others as young as eight or nine years old. All of which, said Buchanan, are anxious to get out and participate in Field Day after the 2020 event had to be cancelled due to COVID-19.
“Things are also getting better because we’re moving out of the low part of the sunspot cycle,” said Buchanan. “That’s how radio propagation is done, after all, via the earth’s ionosphere.”
Despite being what Buchanan called “probably the most exclusive hobby in the world,” with only 70,000 members across the entire country and 2.5 million enthusiasts worldwide, those in the SAARC are very hopeful to see the general public come out and take part in this event.
“Join us on Field Day. You will enjoy it, and everybody is welcome. Come see some of the antique radios, and come see people actually operating our emergency radio systems. You’ll be quite surprised, all you preppers out there. Come on out, see us, we’ll be more than happy to entertain you,” said Buchanan.
Anna Smith, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prairie Post East