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Amateur radio club holding annual field day this weekend at Sukanen Museum

Club members will spend 24 continuous hours speaking with people across the world — and maybe into space — using analogue and digital technology.
Amateur radio club 1
This is an example of the gear that members of The Moose Jaw Amateur Radio Club use during their activities. The club has an active radio station set up at the Western Development Museum. Photo courtesy Moose Jaw Amateur Radio Club

The Moose Jaw Amateur Radio Club will be at the Sukanen Museum this weekend for its annual field day, where members will spend 24 hours speaking with people worldwide.

The field day is a contest among members, where they take their equipment from home, set it up in a public place and demonstrate the aspects of amateur radio through digital and voice formats, explained vice-president Frank Lloyd. 

Members receive points for such actions as setting up in public or using emergency power to operate. They then communicate with whoever is on the airwaves from noon Saturday to noon Sunday. 

The club will erect a temporary antenna tower, determine the power source it wants to use, connect the radios, turn them into an operating station, spend a day on the airwaves and then tear down everything.

Since some operators are also members of the Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village and Museum, their — older format — equipment and radios are already on site. 

As part of the points system, there will be three radio stations, with one station for voice and one for digital. About five members have licences to operate the equipment — the federal government regulates the activity and airwaves — which allows them to run continuously overnight. 

“… this weekend, it’s a way to get out and do some face-to-face and go from there,” Lloyd said. “And it’s a way of promoting ourselves to the public and it’s a way of showing us off.”

The Sukanen Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 25, while it is open on Sunday, June 26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Normal Sunday hours are shorter, but the museum is holding an inaugural outdoor flea market and swap meet that day. 

Amateur radio — or ham radio — is a popular hobby and service that brings together people, electronics and communication. People use ham radio to talk across town, around the world, or into space, without needing the internet, cell phones, communications networks or cell towers. Members have their own power, from batteries to generators to solar-powered systems. 

It’s fun, social, and educational and can be a lifeline during times of need, such as during disasters. Amateur radio is closely connected with supporting emergency management operations whenever an incident occurs because operators don’t rely on cell towers that become overwhelmed in emergencies.

Amateur radio has changed over the decades, since in the old days, people built and made their own sets using tubes, resistors and capacitors, said Lloyd. Today, modern radio sets are “basically overstuffed computers that do the same job,” but slightly differently. While operators still build and fix gear today, the technology has evolved with the times.

Asking whether analogue or digital radio is better is like asking whether people prefer Ford or Chevy, he continued. He will use whatever works — he has “a smattering of everything” — while his tastes in equipment are eclectic since he appreciates old and new gear. 

“This is a mixed world of lots of things that work and lots of things to experiment with,” Lloyd added. This is an experimenter’s world as well … . It’s just multifaceted.” 

Visit mjarc.ca for more information about the club.

Visit www.sukanenshipmuseum.ca for more information about the museum.