Ham radio enthusiasts worked the airwaves throughout the night, and will continue to reach out across America today.
Radio airwaves across the country were blazing Saturday as a group of Douglas County residents braved sweltering heat at the Wells Overlook County Park, responding to other ham operators reaching out for contacts.
Huddled over the radio microphones, operators repeated their call letters while fishing for more people to add to their lists, compiled on laptop computers. The amateur radio enthusiasts are joining several hundred thousand other radio operators in the United States and Canada for the American Radio Relay League's annual field day.
``I would not be surprised if there are 300,000 hams who participate in field day in one way or another,'' said James Canaday, one of about 45 members of the Douglas Amateur Radio Club.
The competition kicked off at 1 p.m. Saturday and continued throughout the night. The operators will log their last contacts at 1 p.m. today, when the competition ends.
The levels of experience at the county park ranged from a radio enthusiast who hasn't received his operator's certificate to others who have been involved in the hobby since childhood.
As in years past, Dave Fayman and Bob Rainbolt sat at a table in Rainbolt's recreational vehicle, logging in Morse code contacts. The rapid-fire beeps on the speaker told the men to whom they were talking and from where the message was coming, including one message from the former Czechoslovakia -- a long shot, based on the 5 watts of power they were broadcasting.
Fayman has been translating Morse code for 57 years. The men laughed as he quickly flipped the paddle on the code sender, sending a humorous message that remained unknown to anyone who doesn't know the code.
Jeff Langley talks to his father every day, but doesn't rely on the telephone or e-mail. Like other amateur radio operators, he finds that his mobile radio unit in his car allows him to keep in touch with family members.
``My dad's been a ham for about 40 years, and I grew up around it,'' said Langley, whose father, Bob, lives in Pomona.
``Probably the biggest advantage of the hobby is being able to communicate with my dad on my way to work,'' he said. ``There's no long distance calls or bills this way.''
The first field day was 65 years ago, and the event demonstrates the ability to operate under simulated emergency conditions.
-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.