The park is an ideal setting for amateur radio, Martin Rothfield, a member of the East Bay Amateur Radio Club (EBARC), told me this morning. It’s remote from the static of dense neighborhoods and has other good qualities for wireless communications. This weekend, the club, along with the Northern Alameda County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (NALCO), participated in a worldwide amateur radio Field Day at the park.
During a 24-hour period beginning 11 AM Saturday, members of both groups camped out in tents near Picnic Area No. 2 and, using generator power, worked to contact as many other Field Day participants around the world as their radio waves would reach. With hours still left to go, Rothfield told me that they had achieved contact, for example, with a station in the Falkland Islands, another in the Canary Islands. Ken Fowler, a past President of EBARC, added that they had made contact so far with stations in 47 states.
One of the club tents housed digital radios, where members connected with others via keyboards, much like chatting on the internet, but without wires or cables other than their field antennas. Squawking noises from another tent advertised the use of old-fashioned voice communication using single-sideband technology.
Volunteers in a third tent invited members of the public to come in, sit down, and talk over the radio, to experience what it was all about, and get questions answered.
The Club has been holding these events annually in the park for about 15 years, Fowler told me. More than 50 people had stopped in over the weekend to ask questions and nose about, curious about the tents, the antennas, and the goings on.
For the general club members, Field Day is an opportunity to get out of the house and test both their equipment and their skills in a campground-style settings. Volunteers sleep in the tents overnight and prepare meals at the picnic site.
Radio hams who are NALCO members found themselves very busy over the weekend, according to Lynn Zummo, NALCO president. On Saturday, the Berkeley Fire Department called on NALCO to patrol the hills with an eye to the high fire danger due to the hot weather and strong winds. Between the fire patrol and Field Day, NALCO members had their hands full.
Here’s a short video featuring Fowler, Rothfield and Zummo and showing Field Day volunteers intensely focused on their equipment. The club is at http://ebarc.org and NALCO is at http://nalco-ares-races.org.