Nine sites in RI will be open to visitors for the annual amateur “ham” radio Field Day this weekend, Jun 24-25, 2023. Details about each of these sites and contact information for the groups running them are available — arrl.org/field-day-locator — on the web.
Amateur “ham” radio is often the last line of communications in time of disaster. When earthquakes, blizzards, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, or even armed enemy action shut down the ordinary means of communication, knocking out conventional electricity and telephone systems, often radio hams using their personally owned portable equipment, running on batteries, generators or solar power, have been the only way of moving critical information into and out of an affected area. Since 1933, in every peacetime year, the national organization of amateur radio operators, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), has conducted a nationwide exercise to test and demonstrate this emergency response capability. Despite the serious purpose behind it as an emergency drill, tens of thousands of ham operators enjoy the fourth full weekend in June as an opportunity for an annual fun camping expedition where radio clubs set up equipment in places not usually used for such purposes.
Listed by radio callsigns assigned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the nine sites in RI in 2023 will be: WA1USA (RI Emergency Management Agency) and W1DDD (Blackstone Valley Amateur Radio Club) in North Scituate, W1SYE (Newport County Radio Club) in Portsmouth, W1CRI (Charlestown Emergency Operations Center Radio Club) in Charlestown, W1MB (Fidelity Amateur Radio Club) in East Greenwich, W1OP (Providence Radio Association) in Warwick, W1AQ (Associated Radio Amateurs of Southern New England) in Pawtucket, KC1CUE (Coventry Emergency Management Agency) in Coventry, KK1PMA (Providence Emergency Management Agency Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service) in Providence.
The W1DDD site operated by the Blackstone Valley Amateur Radio Club (BVARC) that we featured in 2015 will be operating in 2023, setting up a radio transmitting and receiving demonstration station using tents and trailers on the grounds of the Scituate Senior Center, 1315 Chopmist Hill Rd, Scituate, the former location of the Chopmist Hill Inn. At W1DDD in North Scituate, according to BVARC Public Information Officer Ronald Blais (whose personal callsign is KB1RYT), “The two-day event provides visitors the opportunity to discover the skill, science and service provided by amateur radio, including emergency communications. Two radio stations will be set up on the grounds, including a GOTA (Get on the Air) station, where visitors will be afforded the chance to operate radios and make contacts with other hams worldwide. The stations will be on the air continuously from Saturday 2pm to Sunday 2pm.”
The W1SYE site operated by the Newport County Radio Club (NCRC) at Glen Park, off Gilbert Barker Lane, in Portsmouth, is also particularly set up to welcome visitors.
All listed stations are open to the public and youth are especially encouraged: amateur “ham” radio has often been the catalyst for young people and teenagers to pursue a tinkering or technical inclination that as adults led them to careers in engineering or science. Even children as young as six years old have managed to learn enough to pass the government licensing examinations covering basic radio theory and operating rules, earning their “ham” licenses from the FCC.
In 2019, we provided substantial background about amateur “ham” radio, including information about how to become licensed.