June 25 2010 12:00 AM

Amateur broadcasters have a Field Day

For the Central Michigan Amateur Radio Club — and thousands of groups like it across the country — Saturday is one of the biggest days of the year.

On Ham Radio Field Day, hams, or amateur radio operators, gather across the country to build temporary radio communication stations and contact each other and other stations worldwide for 24 hours, using only emergency power sources.

“People always say, ‘Isn’t it old-fashioned to still use ham radios?’” said William Cote, Central Michigan Amateur Radio Club’s public information officer. “But during all of these crises that have hit the nation and the world, they have been e x t r e m e l y useful. Many times, amateur radio is the only thing that operates temporarily during a crisis. They found that in Katrina and in Haiti. Oftentimes, they were the only way local officials could communicate.”

At the Central Michigan club’s Field Day, hams will be testing radios for numerous emergency situations, everything from varying frequencies to hanging radio antennae from kites.

A main feature of this year’s Field Day will be the Get On The Air station, in which visitors will contact other stations.

“This year we’re making a real press to get visitors to come over and say something on the air at the GOTA station,” Cote said. “We really want to make this easy for people to have fun and come on the air and do it for a little bit.”

Ham Radio Field Day

2 p.m. Saturday, June 26, to 2 p.m. Sunday, June 27 Gardner Athletic Field, at Jolly Road and South Cedar Street, Lansing Free www.centralmiarc.com