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Ham radio operators hold annual field day

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Ham radio operators have turned local parks, emergency operations centers, and even a hospital into makeshift radio stations this weekend. KPCC’s Susan Valot says it’s part of the American Radio Relay League’s annual “field day,” which wraps up today.

Tents, portable radio towers, and loads of equipment – if you drive by one of the amateur radio locations this weekend, you’ll definitely know it. The ham radio operators use emergency power to relay messages to each other over the “field day” weekend. The competition involves contacting as many other amateur radio operators in other states and countries as you can in a 24-hour period.

The competitors can’t use phones, the Internet, or any other forms of communication that get wiped out during earthquakes, fires, or other disasters. And this year, some lucky amateur radio people might get the chance to make contact with an astronaut on the International Space Station.

More than 30,000 people are expected to take part in the “field day” nationwide. You can find some of the Southern California competitors at Los Lomas Community Park in Irvine, Huntington Beach Hospital, and Northrop Grumman in Manhattan Beach.