Ham Slugs taking part in Emergency Communications Field Day, June 23-24

Campus hosts amateur radio operators ("hams") on the East Field for public demonstration of emergency communications capabilities

The 2011 Field Day site at the Lower East Field is seen in this aerial view. (Photo by Dan Dawson)

Faculty and students from the Baskin School of Engineering will take part in the annual Emergency Communications Field Day, a national exercise for amateur radio operators (often called "hams") on Saturday and Sunday, June 23-24. A Field Day site will be set up on the edge of the Lower East Field on the UCSC campus.

The general public is invited to visit the site on Saturday, June 23. Visitors are welcome from dawn to dusk, and radio operations will begin at around 11 a.m.

Thousands of amateur radio operators around the country will be demonstrating their emergency communications capabilities for the public during Field Day. Locally, in addition to the East Field site at UCSC, the Santa Cruz County Amateur Radio Club and the Santa Cruz County Amateur Radio Service (A.R.E.S.) will be establishing their emergency field communications center at the CAL FIRE training facility next to the Ben Lomond Youth Conservation Camp in Ben Lomond.

Ham radio operators provide essential communications during wildfires, earthquakes and other emergencies. During Field Day, amateur radio operators will set up and establish field communications capabilities as an exercise to prepare for times of natural disasters and emergencies.

In 2002, several UCSC engineering students in a radio frequency class taught by Stephen Petersen, a lecturer in computer engineering, became interested in amateur radio. In particular, they were intrigued by the role amateur radio played in advancing the science of radio-based communications and by the sophisticated products currently available. As a group, the students passed the FCC licensing exams in June 2002, just in time to participate in Field Day. Since then, the UCSC Ham Slugs have participated in Field Day every year at the East Field site. The specific focus of the Ham Slugs is training and educating newly licensed students in the art and science of ham radio and emergency communication.

Visitors to the Field Day sites will have opportunities to use high-frequency radio communications and talk to people across the United States and around the world; use a hand-held walkie-talkie to chat with other stations from around the bay; use a computer to communicate via packet radio; or chat with the International Space Station via two-way radio.

For more information about Field Day, contact William Conklin at (831) 426-9090 or AF6OH@arrl.org, or Suellene Petersen at (831) 335-2662 or K6CPA@arrl.org.