Columbia ham radio operator participates in "Ham Radio Field Day"
COLUMBIA - Ham radio operator Ernest Shaw spent his Saturday on his back porch, sifting through static, looking to intercept messages from thousands across the world.
It is all a part of an event known as “Ham Radio Field Day," an annual event organized by the National Association of Amateur Radio. Ham radio is a hobby that uses RF waves to transmit and receive radio signals.
Shaw, who first started as a ham radio operator 6 years ago, said the purpose of the event is to connect with other amateur operators and to spark an interest in young people.
In typical years, the event encourages operators to set up at local parks for all to see.
“A lot of times, when under normal conditions, you'll have it'll be like a picnic or campout,” Shaw said.
2020 is not a typical year. With the COVID-19 pandemic still causing many to miss social interaction, Shaw believes his hobby is an ideal way to connect with those we are distanced from.
“I think one of the great things about the ham radio hobby is there's a lot of people that you know,” Shaw said. “It's like they've been able to use their ham radio hobby and connect with people they know all over the country and all over the world. And it's really given them something that can keep themselves busy and be a little less isolated during this time.”
Shaw recommends the hobby to anyone who is interested in science and technology. He said learning how to be a ham radio operator is a great gateway into future careers.
“It's really been a great hobby,” he said.
“I really enjoy it. There's lots of great people involved and, and it's a great family friendly thing to do in some of your spare time.”