The Cleveland Amateur Radio Club was part of a worldwide field day coordinated nationally by the American Radio Relay League.
The 24-hour communications exercise simulates conditions in the aftermath of a large scale disaster to offer practical experience in setting up radios and antennas and getting on the air without most modern conveniences.
“When regular forms of communication go down during an emergency, HAM radio is still a viable source of communication,” said Cleveland Amateur Radio Club President Derek Wooley.
He said cell phone circuits can easily be overloaded in the event land lines are lost during a disaster. HAM radio operators immediately go into an alert condition start talking to each other on the weather net.
“We get reports from each other from all over the county of the weather conditions and relay it back to the net control station to ensure emergency management is aware of damage,” he said.
HAM radio is not restricted to emergencies. It is a hobby for people who want to communicate with others around the world. While the same thing can be accomplished through text messages or instant messages over the Internet, there has to be an infrastructure in place.
“With HAM radio, you are talking from your station in Tennessee directly to a station in Europe over the airwaves without any kind of infrastructure,” he said.
Radio equipment costs up front, but there are no service fees connected with cell phones or Internet providers. Not all equipment has to be expensive. Wooley was using an antenna he built out of PVC and an old tape measure.
“Who would have thought you could build a $5 antenna out of plastic pipe and a tape measure?” he said.