VAN WERT — Members of the Van Wert Amateur Radio Club placed first in their classification during this past summer’s Field Day competition.

The Field Day operation, conducted at the Van Wert Office of Homeland Security Emergency Management, is an annual event that demonstrates the ability of amateur or “ham radio” operators around the country to communicate during emergency operating conditions. Ham radio operators used personal and club owned equipment to contact 1,460 other ham radio stations across the U.S. and Canada during the 24-hour Field Day period. To simulate emergency conditions, the local Hams erected temporary antennas and used emergency generators to power their radios.

“The pandemic added an additional wrinkle to this year’s operation” according to club president Jack Snyder. “At first, we didn’t think we could even have Field Day. But we felt even with the restrictions at the time, it could be done safely. We just considered the precautions we had to take as a part of the ‘less than ideal conditions’ that makes Field Day challenging. Many clubs could not do it this year.”

The local hams used traditional CW or Morse code, voice, and computer-generated digital modes to make the radio contacts during Field Day, which is sponsored by the American Radio Relay League. The Van Wert Amateur Radio Club’s classification is four transmitters operating at an official Emergency Operations Center in cooperation with our local EMA office. Altogether, there were 10,213 entries and 18,886 ham radio operators participated in Field Day this year.

The radio club, working under the call sign of W8FY, have scored two other first place finishes in Field Day competition, both in the early 1960’s. The Van Wert Amateur Radio Club was first organized in 1952 and operates as a non-profit public service group that provides emergency and routine radio communications for the Van Wert and surrounding area. More information about the club and ham radio in general can be obtained by visiting the club’s website w8fy.org or the League’s website arrl.org.