CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The Cleveland Amateur Radio Club is reaching out this morning to ham radio operators across the United States.
They gathered Saturday at Red Clay State Historical Area to be part of a national "field day" of making contacts and testing equipment. The 24-hour exercise started at 2 p.m. Saturday and ends this afternoon.
The annual field day simulates problems amateur radio operators might face after a natural disaster, such as loss of electricity or telephone service.
"The goal is to contact as many other operations as we can,'' said club President Derek Wooley.
Along with providing communications in disasters, ham radio operators in Bradley, Hamilton and other counties in the region help with public events, Wooley said. That includes Habitat for Humanity's Bike to Build bicycle road race each year, the annual Cherokee Days of Recognition at the park and area search and rescue missions, he said.
The American Radio Relay League encourages clubs to set up in public places to show others what ham radio enthusiasts do, Wooley said. Club members here found themselves setting up tents and equipment Saturday morning next to a wedding.
The Cleveland club is celebrating 50 continuous years of service in 2012, said Jack McCarty, chairman of the local field day committee.
"We are always learning and looking for new ways to do things,'' McCarty said.
New this year, he said, is a computer linkup between each radio station under the club tents. That link allows each radio operator to know where other club members have been on the air to avoid repetitions.
There are some unique homemade devices, too, including a modified "spud gun'' with a pressurized air canister on one end. The pressure launches wires over high trees. The wires go through a fishing reel mounted at the other end of the "gun'' to haul them back in.
Anyone interested in ham radio is invited to monthly meetings at the clubhouse. Meetings are 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the clubhouse, 560 Johnson Blvd.