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Ham radio operators plan field day

The Suncoast Amateur Radio Club is holding a field day this weekend to demonstrate skills and prove radio's value in times of emergency.

"It's an exercise and a contest where people can go out in the field and communicate with as many other amateur radio operations as they can," said Marv Borngraber, SARC vice-president. "It also helps you to hone your skills for emergency purposes."

"This is to prove to the (Federal Communications Commission) that amateur radio operators are important to the United States for emergency communications, such as with Hurricane Andrew," said William "Woody" Woods, an SARC board member and an officer with the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service.

"RACES works in conjunction with the Pasco County Disaster Preparedness Office," said Borngraber. In case of an emergency, ham radio volunteers are assigned to shelters throughout the county to keep people updated on the situation.

This will be the seventh time the Suncoast radio group has sponsored the annual 24-hour event since 1988, Borngraber said. "It's not necessary to be a club member" to participate, he said. "We operate voice code, Morse code (sorry, it's not dead), computer packet systems and a satellite station. . . . (Visitors) could even sit down and operate, if they wanted to."

The field day begins today at 2 p.m. and ends at 2 p.m. Sunday at W. H. Jack Mitchell Park, 4025 Little Road, between Plathe Road and State Road 54.

For information about the Suncoast Amateur Radio Club, call Borngraber at (813) 938-7810.