Local amateur radio club joins counterparts across North America for annual field day

Steve Fazekas fondly remembers the day he entered the ham radio world at age 13 while trying to earn a merit badge for his Eagle Scout project.

So when he stepped out to take part in the Skyview Radio Society’s annual 24-hour field day in Upper Burrell, the 65-year-old decided to set up his portable radio system in the same location where his lifelong enthusiasm for two- way the radio was launched.

“I was working on a radio merit badge for my Eagle Scout project and a neighbor was a member here,” Fazekas said. “Instead of just looking for the badge, he suggested I get my radio operator’s license, so that’s what I decided to do.”

Fazekas believes he was relegated to the far reaches of the club’s sprawling campus along Turkey Ridge Road “to keep the child out of the way”.

And even though he had tried his hand at radio before, that first day on the pitch sending and receiving Morse code messages at the club became a turning point that hooked him for life.

“That’s what started for me,” he said. “When you go on the radio and broadcast your signal, you never know who will answer you. I think it’s fascinating to be able to connect with people all over the planet.

Skyview’s field day coincides with the American Radio Relay League’s summer field day, which is held in the United States and Canada.

For 24 straight hours, radio amateurs set up temporary stations to try to contact as many operators as possible using a variety of methods, including Morse code, voice communication and digital signals.

They also test radio equipment, antennas, and power systems and operate systems to simulate adverse conditions.

Bastone said amateur radio also plays a public service role.

“We run a lot of the equipment we use today on batteries because that’s what will be available in an emergency and the power goes out,” said Bob Bastone, the radio operator. from Skyiew.

Many ham radio enthusiasts are also trained observers and reporters for Skywarn, which is a nationwide system that assists the National Weather Service, he said.

“When storms disrupt regular communications in an area, amateur radio operators can step in and help keep information flowing,” Bastone said. “So some of the things we work on during the field day are focused on emergency preparedness.”

More information about amateur radio can be found on the Skyview website, which also has membership details.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368, tlarussa@triblive.com or via Twitter .