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On the air everywhere
Ham radio enthusiasts participate in the worldwide Field Day.
ham radio in trailer
Peg Haese (right) demonstrates ham radio to visitors Alex Montalvo (left) and Jose Rosas.

There were two ironies in the local version of the worldwide ham radio Field Day June 22–23.

The Hidden Valleys Amateur Radio Club and the UW–Platteville Amateur Radio Club participated in the annual event of 24 hours of ham radio around the world.

The clubs were not able to participate in all 24 hours, however, because of thunderstorms that came in Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The event is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. until the next day at 1 p.m. — “weather permitting,” said HVARC member Larry Pink.

The other irony is that Field Days took place during a weekend in which a natural disaster was taking place less than an hour to the north, the torrential rains and flooding in northern Grant and southern Crawford counties. A Richland Center-based ham radio club could not set up in its usual location because it was flooded.

The clubs set up their site — a trailer used for disasters, a tent, several antennas and a generator — in the parking lot on Longhorn Drive across from the UW–Platteville engineering building.

“We’ve got a nice site here in the parking lot, where if it rains it isn’t going to be wet or muddy,” said HVARC member Ron Niemann of Blanchardville, whose club used to set up Field Day in the UWP Morrow Hall parking lot. “Every year we try to do something a little bit different.”

Participants used satellite and two radio bands, continental wave and single side band, during the 24-hour event. Pink spoke to a ham radio operator in Louisiana and another in Florida Sunday morning.

The event serves as a disaster drill in addition to promoting ham radio. The equipment was self-contained, powered by a generator, in the event ham radio would be needed for emergency communications in an area without electric power. In previous years, the clubs set up solar panels to generate electricity.

Some members are storm spotters. Area hospitals are also set up to receive ham radio signals. Pink called it “a nice way to pass on non-critical information.

“It’s emergency preparedness. That’s the whole idea for it. … I have a mobile unit in my truck; just about everybody [in the club] does.”

The satellite was a new addition this year. It sends signals on one band and receives on another band during the 20-minute window during which the satellite passed overhead. The satellite can send and receive TV video and digital photos.

More information about the club is available at